Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day and I Am Not Feeling It

I have been married for a ridiculous amount of time. Like I don't really remember what it is like to not be married.  The day before I turned 20 I said I Do. We will be celebrating 23 this years this June. Sometimes when I share with friends, younger friends, how long we have been married, they often respond with WOW! That is a long time!  Oh my gosh! Amazing!  And I thought 15 years was long time!

I started thinking about why the reaction to 23 years is often disbelief, astonishing, or something they have never heard was possible.  The average American marriage lasts 27 years.  Actually, much less the younger couples are married.  Most people are used to 2nd and 3rd marriages by the time the age of 50 rolls around.  So very sad when someone thinks 10 years was good go at it.

Marriage is an interesting, challenging, amazing, heartbreaking, adventure and journey.  Some days, you cry from happiness and others you cry in despair.  I am often asked about how we make it work.  I have 5 solid answers.

1. Always say I love you back.
2.  Hug longer than you want to.
3. Spend time in prayer together. Often. Daily.
4. Fight Fair. Never bring up the past. Forgive Daily.
5.  Remember why you fell in love.

I once shared my list with a young woman who was really struggling to love her husband well. She rattled off a long laundry list of grievances, failures and disappointments.  I waited for her to wind down and said, "Is that it?!  That's nothing!"  I caught her off guard.  Reminded her that she wasn't perfect and that she was forgetting pretty much everything we just talked about.

If he says I love you, don't withhold your words of love.  I love you.  But do not add a condition such as I love you, but I am really upset you don't help me more around the house.  Or sure, ditto.  You want to feel loved, so does your husband. Say the words.  Because truthfully,  there is always something to love about your husband.  It might just be his new haircut.  But it is something that you love.

Hug. Embrace. Hug tighter and longer than necessary.  Because those hugs can life giving, an infusion to a weary soul. His days are just as difficult as yours.  Be a physical refuge for each other at the end of each day.

When I say pray together, I mean PRAY TOGETHER. Get on your knees. Pray for each other, for your marriage, for your children, for your extended families, for your jobs and coworkers, for your finances, for your relationships with the Lord.  The point is to just pray.  Sure, if you haven't done this from the beginning, it can be very awkward. But why not be awkward together?! You don't have to have the right words.  Just make a plan to get before the Savior and PRAY. God can do a mighty work in marriages.  Restore. Refresh and Rejuvenate.

YOU ALWAYS DO THAT WRONG!  Why do you always give up so easy? It has never worked for you before, why do you think it will work now.  You can't cook, you failed me, you suck at being a partner!  Whoa. Wait a minute. When in the history of wanting a partner to change has a partner changed when you have demeaned them, brought up the past and used hurtful language?  I don't care if your partner is the biggest hot mess in the world. Forgive daily. Forgive often. Just forgive. Chances are, you have been a mess to live with too and could stand a bit of personal forgiveness.  When you hold onto that list of past grievances so tightly, you have gained nothing but a whole lot of bitterness and regret. Let it go quickly.

When did you fall in love? Where did you meet? What was your first date like? Who said I love you first? How did the proposal play out? What have been the 5 greatest joys that you have experienced together? When you spend time on your own and together remembering how you fell in love, the fact that the garbage didn't get taken out last night, or the bedroom door squeaks, or you are a horrible cook all just seems a bit more trivial.

No, my 5 point list won't fix everything. Some marriages where true hurt and heartache have taken up permanent residence, need more help and resources than what the two of you possess.  Know when to pull in the professionals. Seek help, and seek help sooner than later.

Today, when it is Valentine's Day, I woke up and I just wasn't feeling it. I had slept maybe 4 hours last night, struggled my way through two tough clients today and only wanted to take a 20 minute nap that never happened. But when I was ready to change my attitude, I got up, cooked an amazing dinner of stuffed peppers, scalloped potatoes and Caesar salad. I washed my face, spent some time and prayer and resolved to change my attitude. Tonight, after the kids go to bed, I plan on sitting face to face with my husband.  I plan on telling him why I love him. Why I have loved him all these years. I will relive adventures and vacations and times we have laughed until it hurt.  I will tell him each thing that he does that I am thankful for. I will hug him tighter and longer than necessary.  I will not do all of this because it is Valentine's Day.  I will do it because I am excited to see where the next 23 years takes us.

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