Today is our 23rd wedding anniversary. Last year on our anniversary I wrote about the secret to marriage and one of the things I said was to get counseling if you need it. One year later, that’s exactly what we are doing.
It’s funny how year-to-year a marriage can fluctuate and look different than the prior 12 months, but as we grow as individuals we don’t always grow as a couple. And that’s where we can get in trouble with our marriages if we don’t address it.
When marriage is hard, we can choose a few options:
- Shut down
- Do the hard work of making it better
Sometimes I have all three options swirling in my head at the same time, but for me, the only real one is to do the hard work of making it better. And that’s why we started counseling this week. This is hardest option of all because it requires all the talking we can muster up, all the soul-searching and truth telling and facing fears and feeling the anger and pain and confronting the monsters.
It requires the decision ahead of time that you won’t give up and you will stay to the end. But you know what it requires most of all? That you love your spouse through it all. My friend Debi told me that the hardest part is to SHOW love even when you don’t FEEL love. I wish she wasn’t right.
When marriage is hard, our only choice is to show love when what we might really want to do is shut down and build a wall. Or for me, I feel afraid so I self-protect and become not very nice. I go into “business” mode and treat my marriage like a transaction instead of a covenant. But as I pray my way through the day and talk to God about my marriage, He reminds me that He first showed me Grace and He first showed me Love so who was I to withhold those from my man?
So, I am taking my own advice and I am going to be kind, not be a jerk, go to counseling, not go to bed mad, extend grace, and love him through to the other side of hard. Grace and Love. What greater tools do we have then to soften hard?
This guy has made me a better person and we will celebrate 23 years together even in the midst of hard.