Our Weekly Marriage Questions

Every Sunday night, Jay and I sit down together and have marriage time. And by once a week I really mean every once in awhile, when we actually remember and don’t get sidetrack by something like the Grammy’s or the Amazing Race.

We ask each other several questions, plus a random bonus question.

What does your upcoming week look like?

How did you feel most loved this past week?

What would make you feel pursued in intimacy/sex this week?

What can I do to support or help you this week?

When we take the time to ask these questions, we are able to reflect together on the week that has just passed. And we are able to look forward to the week ahead. We share how we are feeling and what we are struggling with. And we always end up going down all sorts of good rabbit trails, discussing things that have been milling around in our minds or laying heavily on our hearts, that in the chaos of the every day, we don’t always have time to talk about.

The questions keep us in touch with how the other person is feeling. They keep us in touch with what the other person is learning. And they keep us in touch with who the other person is becoming.

And whenever we do it, whenever we take the time to sit together, once the kids are in bed and the house is quiet, it ends up being the best part of our week.

It is a moment when we are able to reconnect in a real way. It is a moment when we were able to open up on a deeper level. And it is a moment when we don’t have to be mom or dad, only ourselves with each other, with the one our heart loves.

*Questions from Today’s Letters

 

Thoughts on Marriage This Valentine’s Day

I married young, at twenty- two years old, which was awhile ago. And I have learned quite a few unexpected things about marriage, which I thought I would share this Valentine’s Day. Given that these are just my observations, and that I am neither a trained counselor or therapist, they may not be worth very much. But after 13 years and two babies, here is what I know for sure so far about marriage:

1) When you decide to take the leap and get married, it is because you love someone, want to spend the rest of your life with them, and think you know them inside and out. But the truth is that you really don’t know them at all.

It doesn’t matter how long you have dated, whether you have known each other since you were six years old, or if you have had a background check done on them. You still only know a small part of each other before you say, I do. And you won’t begin to know each other, fully and completely, until you get married, start living together day in and day out, and weather some of life’s storms together.

2) The first year of marriage is the hardest. But thank God, it passes.

3) When you marry someone, you marry not only their problems, but also their family’s problems. All of them. The little problems you can see lurking in the background, the big problems that no one wants to talk about, and the relational issues between each family member. You marry all of that. Their problems become your problems, whether you want them to or not.

4) The ability to leave and cleave does not automatically happen the minute you say your vows and seal things with a kiss. Leaving and cleaving takes time. It is a learning process that involves figuring out what works for both of you as it relates to your families. It requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to compromise some preferences and traditions. (Just because you have spent every Christmas Eve for the last 30 years with Mom and Dad at Aunt Greta’s house doesn’t mean you should keep doing so, despite how your mom and Aunt Greta feel about it.) Leaving and cleaving means establishing new, healthy boundaries so you can create your own identity as a family, as well as your own traditions.

5) Marriage is a partnership. It is a team effort. And teams work best when the players sacrifice to reach a goal together or choose to do what is best for everyone. That may mean no more Saturday football games at your alma mater with your buddies. It may mean no more shopping and buying things you can’t afford. It may mean scaling back your time on the golf course while you have little kids. It may mean taking on an extra chore or responsibility so your spouse does not have to. Because marriage is a commitment not only to another person, but a commitment to this new family you are forming and growing, and to do what is best for them.

6) Sex can and does get better as you get older, and the longer you have been married. I will leave it at that.

7) No marriage is rosy all the time. There will be rough periods. Periods when you don’t see eye to eye. Periods when you are angry, fight, and hurt each other. And one of the secrets of getting through the rough periods, in addition to counseling or therapy, is to choose not to let seeds of resentment plant themselves in your heart.

Whatever has happened, you can choose to forgive. You can choose to let go. And in doing so, you root out those seeds of resentment and prevent them from growing into weeds of bitterness that choke out the affection and sweetness between the two of you.

Because getting married is to unknowingly enter a rock tumbling machine. The purpose of a rock tumbling machine is to make lovely jewels out of rough, dirty rocks. But turning those rocks into gorgeous jewels is not easy. You must throw your dirty rocks into the tumbling machine, add some grit, and then shake the hell out of it. With enough grit, enough shaking, and enough time, two beautiful jewels will emerge from those rough rocks.

And that is marriage. You and the one you love are the rocks, being shaken up in the grit of life. And over time, if you stay committed and connected to each other, the grit of life will change you. It will chip away your selfishness and it will soften your roughness. And one day, two people will emerge who are beautiful reflections of Christ, who are able to love each other as Christ loves His church; patiently, sacrificially, generously, and most of all gracefully and passionately.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

My Selfish Little Plan

The turkeys have been bought.
The food assignments have been handed out.
My fridge is stocked.
And my recipes have been chosen.
 
And I would give anything.
To only have to make a dessert.
And get in my car with my family.
And go to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving.
 
My body is weary.
It has been a rough few weeks.
Hell, it has been a rough year.
 
Usually.
When I start to feel this way.
Tired and worn out.
 
I want him to fix things.
I want him to ease my burdens.
I want him to pick up the slack.
So I can let go some.
 
I want him to make things better.
Easier.
Lighter.
For ME.
 
Except there is one small glitch.
In my selfish little plan.
And it is that Jay is not always well.
He has a condition called A.S.
 
It is an autoimmune disease.
With a long and funny-sounding name.
That you should probably just google.
In which his joints become inflamed.
 
He has been living with it.
For a few years now.
And until recently.
It has been a minor footnote in our lives.
 
But it has progressed this year.
His inflammation is worse.
His spine hurts more.
He has chronic pain.
 
And after a long day at work.
And a long day of pain and discomfort.
He comes home worn out.
And battling fatigue.
 
But every night.
He pushes through the nightly routine.
Through playtime and dinnertime.
Through bathtime and bedtime.
 
When I really think.
All he really wants to do.
Is lay down on the sofa.
And rest his aching body.
 
He really isn’t in a place.
To walk in the door and take over.
And lift my burdens off of me.
Just because doing so would help me out.
 
The Lord has been trying to show me this.
For quite some time.
And despite His gentle nudging.
It has taken me awhile to get it.
 
I am working.
On adjusting my expectations.
And more that anything.
Adjusting my attitude.
 
I am trying.
To not count down the minutes.
Until Jay gets home.
Just because it means there will be another pair of hands.
 
I am trying.
To do what needs to be done.
And not leave stuff for him.
Just because it is the stuff he usually does around the house.
 
And I am trying.
To pray more.
For strength, perseverance, and endurance.
And for the Lord’s help in all of this.
 
I feel Him checking me.
When I start to struggle.
And drawing me back.
When my attitude starts to slip.
 
And when I feel frustrated.
Tired.
Weary.
Put upon.
 
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
And despite all that has happened.
I am so thankful.
 
For so many things.
My little family.
My darling husband.
My precious girls.
 
I am thankful for more things.
In my life than I can count.
And the unexpected turns in our path.
 
Because I know.
They all have a purpose.
And the Lord is using them.
To chisel me down.
 
I know.
He is using it all for good in my life.
Because He is good.
And the source of all good things.
 
And I know.
If there is any good within me.
It is because Jesus made it so.
And for that I am so so thankful!
 
Happy Thanksgiving friends!
 

The Day The World Changed

My to do list never gets shorter.

 

No matter how many items I get done and cross off, more are always getting added. It got to the point where Jay and I were spending all of every weekend working. On projects. In the yard. Around the house. Part of the reason was the never ending room. Which is finally finished.

 

But we hit a wall. And we decided that we could not continue any more.

 

We made a plan that the first Sunday in September was going to be our first official day of rest. And that every Sunday after we would do our best to rest and not get into project mode.

 

We woke up yesterday with no plan. We had no list. There was nothing that hadto get done.

 

We went on a long walk as a family. Through the polo fields and down to the river. We pet the beautiful polo horses. We ate snacks in the field. We ran into friends along the way. We came home hot, tired, and hungry, but in a good way.

We watched a little of the 9/11 anniversary coverage. And we reminisced about that day.
 
We were living in military barracks. Jay was getting ready to go to sea with the Navy for three months. Everything we owned was in storage. We were holed up together soaking up our time until he left.
 

Then the towers fell. Jay was recalled to his ship. And he was gone for days.
 
The barracks were locked down. And deserted. I was the only civilian allowed in and out. My car was full of crap. Books, clothes, and stuff. The stuff I did not put in storage.
 
And every day it was searched. Until finally a nice, young man with a machine gun said, Ma’am, are you living here?
 
Yes.
 
Then he yelled to another nice, young man with a machine gun, Could someone get a sticker for her ID? So I got a sticker. And they stopped searching my car every day.
 

Jay’s ship left port a couple of weeks later. He was gone, halfway across the world, for the better part of a year. He was part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was in the war. He was there in the thick of it all.

We did not have children then. Our girls had not come into our lives. And they will never be able to fully understand what that day was like. To be watching such a tragedy unfold on TV and in your head know that everything was about to change.

No one needed to tell me. I had been a military wife long enough to know what was coming. That he would be needed. He would be called to serve. And that he would go. With no certain return date. And no guarantee that he would return home.

(Bette running to greet Jay)


But one day, when they are old enough, I will tell my girls about it. About 9/11, about how the world changed, and how it changed for us. I will tell them about our separation that year and how hard it was. But also about much I grew up and how much I learned. And that the greatest day of my life, up to that point, was the day Jay came home. And how proud I was of him. And how proud I was and still am to be an American.

A Place Of Peace In The Eye Of The Storm

Jay.
He leads a busy life.
 
His work is demanding.
It involves long hours.
It requires great precision.
And close attention to detail.
 
He has a lot of interests.
And a lot of hobbies.
He loves to try new things.
And he is good at everything.
 

He knew zero about women when we married.
It wasn’t his fault.
He spent a lot of time.
In the woods growing up.

He hiked, camped, and fished.
He wrestled and ran in school.
He played baseball, golf, and football.
All sports that don’t involve many women.

But now, he has three women to take care of.
And two girls to help raise.
Which is a big job in this day in age.
He’s had to learn about all sorts of new things.

Girl things.
About braids and camisoles.
And tights and hair bows.
And about the importance of pink.
 
He’s had to learn about girl emotions.
That they are closer to the surface than boy emotions.
And more unpredictable.
And often inexplicable.
 
And he’s had to learn about living with girls.
And how girls need to be loved.
So he is helpful without coddling.
He listens without being overindulgent.
 
He is fun but not rough.
And he is affectionate.
All the time.
Every single day.
 

He is a great girl daddy.
He is very protective.
And very tender.
And very patient.
 
And my girls adore him.
Lilla greets him with a hug at the door every day.
Bette lights up when he walks in.
He is their favorite fella in the whole world.
 
In many ways, my girls are mama’s girls.
But they are daddy’s girls too.

Through all turmoil lately, he has been so steady.
So steady and even and calm.
He has been a rock to hang onto.
And a place of peace in the eye of the storm.