I am writing a super important blog tonight. Actually, I wrote it yesterday and the way it came about was really a gift from the Holy Spirit. I have a very good friend. She's awesome and I just love her. Yesterday, she sent me a text. It read, "At what point in your marriage did you get "good" at fighting? John* and I are the worst. (* names have been changed). At least this one is over, but it was a whopper. How to make it better?"
I honestly almost cried when I read it because it sounded so familiar. So similar. So much like my own life... Marriage is not easy. Despite what our culture wants us to believe, to have a really, great, awesome, terrific marriage? It requires work. It requires sweat. It requires sacrifice. Our world would have us believe (and television/movies prove it) that marriage should be bliss, happy, love, sex 24/7 or get out while the getting is good. If it's not those things, dump it and run.
I'm here to tell anyone who will listen, that's the dumbest way to look at marriage EVER.
Marriage is anything but easy. If you want a good marriage? You'd better prepare yourself for battle. There is nothing the devil wants more than to destroy good marriages. Promote no fault divorce. Encourage infidelity.
Marriage is under attack in more ways than ever these days. I could go on, but for the sake of my friend, I'll stay on track this time....
I wanted to text her back, but realized that it would be a mess to try and text a reply. This deserved a letter. I had so many different thoughts and words floating in my head and I wanted to tell her so much and assure of so many things....so I texted back that I would email a response to her because a text wouldn't do it justice.
I sat down and within 10 minutes, I had what I typed below ready for her. I also had my super hero hubs sit down and do his typical revising and add his two cents to what I said. Here is what we came up with. Perhaps you can resonate with some of what we came up with.
Dear Jane*, (again, names changed)
First and foremost, to consider my hubs and I as an example is such an awesome compliment. Honestly, if you ask him, he’ll tell you I tried to do my darndest to mess up our marriage with stupid, dumb comments all the time. We both did our share of pushing buttons (wait, we still do that… and it’s been 19 years??) But that’s human nature. We are inclined to sin, we are prone to want our own selfish desires and wants and when we fight, it’s just our own selfishness at times, rearing its ugly head out. No matter what we think we’re justified in saying/doing. Both of us.
The first few years of marriage I was really good at making him mad by telling him I hated him. It’s how my family communicated with each other, so it was easy to just do the same to him because guess what, he hated that phrase. It would get him so fired up and we’d wind up in a yelling, screaming spat and on several occasions I pulled out the suitcase and loaded it up. (There was even the time I actually was glad for a trip to Knoxville for my sister’s graduation because I was fed up with him…)
After we had a few children (probably right where you are right now). We still fought some pretty intense battles. I am stubborn. I am extremely stubborn. I wear my heart on my sleeves. I am passionate and I am unwavering, and I like things done the way I want them.
My husband, on the other hand, is extremely laid back, but also, EXTREMELY set in his ways. The phrase, ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ Yea, that was specifically for him. He knows it. He knows he does/doesn’t like things and when we clash- we clash like thunder and lightning. Sometimes to the point of scaring our children into asking, ‘are they going to get divorced?’
So, how did we learn to fight good? Well, it’s an ongoing battle. Literally. I know there is no way to completely avoid fights, and frankly, it’s important that we do fight some in front of the kids. Contrary to popular psychology, I believe that my children see he and I disagreeing on things and perhaps getting a tad heated, as a healthy sign for them in their own relationships. Conflict is a necessary part of life. Not ever seeing conflict, not ever seeing their parents fight,could cause them to feel horrible if they ever do have conflict. Especially with their spouse. But it’s been 19 years in the making. Do we have the knockdown, drag out, screaming, yelling, slamming doors, driving off fights? Well, I do still slam doors. My husband does still yell, but he will tell you he’s just loud. I do get so mad sometimes I want to knock his block off. He’s so friggen stubborn‼! And don’t you know, he’ll say the SAME THING ABOUT ME‼!
But the older I get, the more I realize that life is so incredibly short.
Jane- I mean, incredibly short.
Sometimes I think about people we know who have lost their spouses too soon. With young children, or unborn babies on the way.
Sometimes I think about my Grandma who died a few years ago who literally took care of my grandfather, her alcoholic, at times horribly drunk, husband, and gave all appearances of it not wearing her down.
Sometimes I think about all our babies in Heaven and it really sinks in how important it is to work on compromise. Seriously.
I bite my tongue a lot. I bite it so much my dentist says I have a bump on my tongue from biting it‼ Literally‼
So to say we’ve gotten good at it, well, that’s relative. But we do fall more in love with each other every single year.
The scripture that everyone hates so much that’s so misunderstood by a lot of people about wives being submissive to their husbands? Ironically enough, I try to think about that verse, for numerous reasons. My husband is a good man. You know that. If he was abusive, it would be different. But he’s a Godly man who wants to live right and raise his family right. But just like me, he has his flaws, and sometimes we clash with our flaws. But that verse, rightly so, reminds me, just like it reminds him, that we are to be submissive to not only one another, but to do it the way Christ does to His Church. With total and utter abandonment.
Trust that God will pull you through this difficult time when it arises. And it will arise. Sometimes it will happen over the dumbest things, when you’re tired, when you’re visiting family, when you thought you did something really good and the spouse thought just the opposite….sometimes, I'm convinced, the evil one just starts a spark for no reason other than to continue the divide of families.
Make sure, though, most importantly, that you kiss and make up. Don’t ever let a fight linger or go unsettled. I always apologize. Sometimes my stupid, stupid, STUPID, stubborn, redheaded, self likes to say in my head, ‘I’m not apologizing THIS time…” But I do. We both do. We apologize to each other. It’s important. I’m not supposed to go to bed angry- but I still do sometimes. I’m trying to work on that one, too. Don’t go to bed angry. Get the wall quote from Hobby Lobby that says to kiss me goodnight and put it above your bed. Or in your room somewhere… J
AND- surround yourselves with ducks. Hang out with us, seriously, or find some other crazy ducks. There is NOTHING, and I promise, NOTHING that can make a marriage grow in strength than by hanging with other strong marriages. I promise.
And sorry for the novel, but you’ve inspired me to write a blog. I’ll change your name- but it’s something important.
Love you friend‼