We can never be fully prepared for what life is going to bring us. We do our best, make our plans, and still know that no matter what we expect out of life, we might get something different. Since we cannot trust our plans to work out 100% of the time, I am thankful to know the Lord is at work in the lives of His children. Especially when we are going through trials and mourning the loss of what we thought our lives were going to be.
When I got married, it was going to be great. We were going to have a house full of children and be best friends. Dating was easy, for the most part. It may not have seemed that way at the time; but, in retrospect, those were some good days. Engagement brought new challenges, but mostly joy and anticipation. We discovered how differently we approach life during our wedding planning!
Then, the prize we had worked toward the entire year… marriage. We quickly realized how difficult it can be to intertwine two lives. Graduate school took up an enormous amount of our time. We had different priorities. Health problems came and babies did not; and it was hard to understand what God was doing in my upside down world.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12, ESV)
When we wait long for a miracle and it does not come, our hearts grow weary. We wonder, “Is it worth the fight anymore? Should I quit waiting for God to do something? Is this just the way it is going to be?” Life keeps moving on and years keep cycling through, and the longer we wait, the harder it is to keep believing.
But, God has a way of filling us with hope at just the right time – just when we want to give up and throw in the towel. When I think, “Am I helping anyone? Is my life and energy counting for anything?” someone sends me an email thanking me for our blog. When I wonder, “Has God forgotten me?” he sends a reminder, often through a friend, that He is still with me. And, when I get discouraged in my marriage, moments like this arise:
We Travel Differently
Recently, Eric and I were sitting on the bed discussing an upcoming project. He was approaching our future with his normal conquer and divide gusto. I was proverbially slamming the breaks and screaming, “Stop! Slow down! We are going to crash!!!” So, you know, a typical day in our home.
As the conversation wore on, we became more frustrated. Eric sees our future as an open road in the desert with no speed limit where we can fly towards our destination as fast as humanly possible. Simultaneously, I feel like we are in the fire swamp traversing unexpected flames, quicksand, and rodents of unusual size.
How annoying to have someone constantly hit the brakes when you are trying to get somewhere? How terrifying to walk through the swamp with someone who seems blissfully unaware of all the possible horrors that could occur?
We wanted to grab each other by the face and yell, “See it my way!!!” (Marriage can be so much fun.)
Then, it happened.
An unexpected moment of hope. In my frazzled state, I told Eric, loudly, what I needed from him. What I need from him in life. What I need from him in our business. What I need from him, period. His face changed from frustrated to compassionate, and then with kindness in his eyes, he took my hand and said:
“I am here for you. We are in this together. You are not alone. No matter what happens, I will always love you. You are more important to me than work.”
He calmed my throbbing security gland by assuring me that our relationship is more important to him than any of our exploits. Building a business with my spouse is so much harder than I ever imagined and separating our work from our marriage is a challenge. I know I will need more encouragement and reminders along the way, but that simple moment of reassurance poured water on the fire of fear raging in my heart.
What We Are Really Saying…
As you and your future spouse endure those moments of frustration, weariness, and fear, stop the argument for a moment and ask, “What do you need from me?” Ask it kindly and sincerely. You may be incredibly surprised by what you hear.
When we act out in relationships, we are usually desperately trying to communicate something else.
- I am afraid and I need you to hold me!
- I am feeling insecure and I need you to build me up!
- I am dying inside and I need you to nourish my heart!
- I am terrified of losing you and I want you to look me in the eye and tell me you are never going to abandon me.
Honestly expressing intimate emotions requires us to be vulnerable which is especially hard during conflict together. When emotions run high, we are more likely to say harsh words to each other than when we are calm. But, if we remember that something deeper is driving our significant other’s outburst, we can have the presence of mind to calmly ask, “What do you need from me?”
Sometimes your sweetheart will have an immediate answer and other times he or she will need to process first. In either case, the soft words will diffuse the situation and the sincere question will communicate a desire to connect and heal.
I lay on the bed beside him as tears dripped from my eyes. I did not even know how much I needed to hear those words. Now that he has said them, I feel closer to him, more confident, and more ready to go after our plans. Sooner or later (note: probably sooner), I will need him to give me another heartfelt speech. ~smile~
In the meantime, I am so thankful God shined His love into my heart with this unexpected moment of hope.
What do you need your sweetie to say? What does your sweetie need you to say? [Comment below!]