Some of my friends are in the stage of marriage where everything is easy. Butterflies and rainbows. It’s new and it’s fun and it’s exciting. Life hasn’t hit them hard yet or maybe it has but they don’t like to show weakness on social media. I respect that. If you’ve been married for a longer period of time you’ve likely experienced disappointment, fear, miscarriage, loss, financial struggle, death, cancer, infertility, deployments, job change, betrayal, and the list goes on. At which point you may feel like your cup is really empty. Maybe you have kids or maybe you don’t but nevertheless life seems to have you really down. Which makes it feel impossible to feel excited, spontaneous, sexy, or even anything that resembles the person you were when you first met or married your spouse.
Over the years you change. Everyone changes. When I first met my husband I associated more with one political party than another but now I’ve changed big time. I was in shape and my eyes didn’t have dark circles under then. I wasn’t as irritable. I was always up for sex and staying up late…I could go on but you get the picture.
Here’s a big part of marriage most people won’t tell you: there will always be a point in your life where you just want to be left alone and that’s okay. Or your marriage “feels” to hard or like the love is gone. But it’s not. It’s there.
**Caveat, I’m not speaking to women who are stuck in abusive relationships or married to a man/woman who is unfaithful or an addict and unwilling to get treatment. I’m talking to the majority of us who just live in the reality that marriage can/will get hard during seasons of life.
Maybe your season is long? Maybe it’s been years? Decades even?
My husband and I met and 1.5 year later we were pregnant. We got close to no time alone together. Baby #1 came then husband left for 6.5 months. He came home and baby #2 was conceived. Then husband left again for almost 6.5 months. I spent all of the newborn stage by myself and almost 8 months of post partum depression with both of my kids. Our son is one and I still feel like my emotions aren’t quite sorted. My husband still travels 3 weeks a month for work so there are days, weeks, months I feel so lonely and so exhausted I don’t change my clothes for a solid 2 days.
But here is what I’ve learned…the hard way. The very hard way. If you don’t invest in your marriage your marriage won’t last. My feelings of anger and sadness aren’t my primary emotions. My primary feelings are loneliness and and disappointment causes a lot of anger and resentment in our lives. When I choose to live there and not be open with my emotions and leave zero space to be authentic these emotions take over in a bad way. I’ve learned this through a lot of wise counsel.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about being someone’s spouse it’s you must show equal respect. When you argue, when you love, when you make big choices. When one person feels unloved or disrespected things go downhill pretty quick.
My husband and I have made the choice to invest in our marriage through counseling and weekly date nights. Spending alone time together without kids and without interruption has been one of the only devices we have in our crazy life that allows us to still see each other and take time away from our busy life to invest in one another. How can a marriage work without investing in your spouse? In your marriage? I cannot fathom how any marriage can function without investing in their marriage
If you don’t invest in your marriage it won’t make it far. If you let the hardships life throws at you be the defining factor of your relationship you won’t make it far. If you choose feelings over commitment you won’t make it far. If you don’t choose your partner you surely cannot build a lastly and fulfilling marriage.
All these things constantly lead me back to Jesus. How His grace and forgiveness have transformed my life and how I want that grace to transform my marriage.
I’ve been an ugly person and I’ve allowed anger to rule my life and my emotions because I didn’t realize my underlying emotion fueling my anger was/is fear and loneliness. But if you’re like me you don’t like living in the negative space. So I’ve made huge changes…changes I’m still trying to get used to!
- I invest in more alone time
- I make diet and exercise a priority to feel more energized
- I invest in therapy and self care
- I make it a point to wake up 20 minute early to have coffee and Jesus alone (still working on doing it daily now that Day Light SAVINGS has RUINED MY LIFE 😛 )
- I identify my emotions and leave space before my responses to my husband and my children. Allowing me to choose grace more than anger and responding with irritability and anger (still WORKING ON THIS EVERY DAY).
- I invest more in my friendships. Those friendships that haven’t left me even in the darkest days!
- I’m going back to work – – – I need time away from my children where I’m investing in my own passions and my own desires.
I know this doesn’t solve marriage issues but it’s a start. I already feel parts of myself coming back to life after what feels like living in PPD/Anxiety for 3 years. It’s been 3 years since I’ve actively participated in therapy but let me tell you it’s life changing when you find a therapist that fits!
You have to invest in your personal mental health (that may mean working out, therapy, or just putting your kids to bed early for some quiet time) and most importantly you have to invest in your marriage! YOU HAVE TO! Maybe you can’t afford weekly date nights or therapy but you can go through a book together, have a set time to spend alone in conversation, eating a meal together after your children go to sleep OR get one of those date night boxes delivered! You have to make your marriage YOUR priority.