Tom and I married in February of 1985. As we approach year 32 of marriage, we are indeed celebrating the vastness of 32 years of marriage and 35 years together with our dating years. This is no small feat.
Marriage ebbs and flows.
We’ve had some amazing times of feeling connected to each other and starry-eyed candlelight dinners. A favorite memory from the early days in our marriage is coming home to our little apartment in Berlin, Germany.
I walked in through the front door. All the lights were out but I could see flickering light coming from our living room. The house was quiet except for the faint sound of soft music. I assumed Tom must have put our then 3-year-old daughter to bed. I walked into the living room and saw the kitchen table there; we didn’t have a dining room. The table was set, complete with candlelight, and he served the most delicious “round” steak dinner….we were living on love in those days not T-bones.
Year 31 has been sort of an ebb year. Lots of changes this year in our lives, with me spending too much time away from home trying to “save the world,” which led to my resignation (more about that here Major Heart Surgery), and Tom having to start a new job so I could stay home and rest up.
Add to it, both of us are in mid-life.
I’ve been thinking about the saying mid-life crisis, and now that I’m mid-life, it seems more believable. I do find myself questioning, what have I accomplished in my life thus far? What is my true purpose in life?
Marriage is one of the safest places to be real in.
Tom and I started our marriage as mere babes; he just 20 years old and I barely 18. We had our daughter when I was 16 years old and Tom was 18, he had just graduated high school and I was still in. We’ve pretty much grown up together in our marriage.
We struggle with treating each other with respect, and find more times we act like quarreling, bickering siblings instead of husband and wife.
When our son graduated from high school and moved out, I tried to convince Tom to move out too. Not because we were heading for separation, but because I wanted us to date as grown-ups without children.
Of course Tom thought I was off my rocker and asked who was going to pay for us to live in two separate homes? He’s always my realist!
In my mind if lived separate and dated as adults we would automatically treat each other like adults and stop our quibbling.
It has been a journey rediscovering who we are.
Tom figured we didn’t need to go to such elaborate extremes, so we just began to try and rediscover who we were as an empty nest couple.
It’s great to have the house to ourselves to come and go as we please, to eat dinner in the living room and bring our drinks in without fear they will be spilled. We enjoy time with our adult friends in our supper club and going on weekend getaways without worrying about who’s going to keep the kids.
We learned we really need to pay attention to each other.
As easy as it is to drift apart when you’re busy with young children at home, it’s almost easier to drift apart when they’re gone.
I found myself crying out to the Lord recently after Tom and I had a session of “intense fellowship,” aka an argument. When my easy-going man puts his coat on and leaves the house because he’s such a gentleman and doesn’t want to say anything he will regret, I know it’s big and I’ve pushed too far with my words.
Resentment is a close brother to bitterness.
During that time the Lord opened up my heart and revealed I have resentment in my heart. Wow! I was shocked, filled with peace, if that makes sense. Peace knowing what the “wrestling” inside of me was, why I was so quick to jump on Tom for any little thing he did or didn’t do.
When Tom came home we sat down to talk, I confessed to him my feelings of resentment. Some of it may have come from his easy-going personality, but most came from projecting my expectations on him to be who I think he should be as a husband, father and man.
Oh dear friends, this has not been easy to admit, but it has been so freeing to be honest with myself, the Lord and Tom.
Tom recognized he has allowed resentment to grow in his heart also. We both realized we were heading toward hopelessness in our marriage. Yet we quietly sat and confessed to each other we weren’t ready to give up. We admitted we need help getting out of the resentment cycle we felt trapped in.
We called the church to get the counselor’s number. We looked into a marriage retreat. We’re being intentional to not go to sleep without praying; it’s easy to let that most sacred habit go until you realize you barely pray together beyond meal times. We started our devotions again.
The common denominator of marriages that survive vs those that fail is–Hope.
One devotional reading talked about hope. The author said the common denominator of marriages that survive vs those that fail is–Hope. The feeling that we can and will make it. This is the courage of those who hope not in themselves but in the Lord.
Where do I place my hope?
My resentment stems from: hoping in myself, hoping in Tom and failing to place my hope in the right place, in the Lord.
What would it look like if I turned to the Lord first? First to ask for His perspective of what just happened or what is going on? Then go to Tom after I placed my hope in the Lord that Tom and I would work this out with Him in the middle leading us through the turbulent waters?
Praise God He never gives up on us.
We’re not there yet but today we have hope — hope in the Lord — and we’re letting Him lead us through this time. Honestly it’s sweeter than it’s ever been in our home. I sense a new respect for Tom as I release him to the Lord, and I sense a new respect from Tom as well. Mostly I sense courage and strength and Hope in the Lord!
The devo we are doing is called Biblical secrets to a happy marriage and it’s on the Youversion bible app on our phones!