Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Teenagers of Marriage

A quick Google search reveals that, on average, we humans say about 16,000 words per day. So if we speak 16,000 words every day, multiplied by the 365 days in a year, this comes to a whopping grand total of 5.8 million words spoken per year. When I think about words in this context, it is a wonder to me that there are only a handful of sentences or phrases, words spoken to us or over us throughout our lives that really stick. These precious (or sometimes painful) words are the things we remember, the phrases that surface at random and run through our minds in different circumstances as we pass our days.

If the average person speaks about 16,000 words per day, then my husband probably clocks in around 8000. This is one of the only areas where he measures below average, which, in case you got lost in translation, is a pretty high compliment. The man is incredibly smart, musically gifted, can hold his own at basically any sport, can figure out how to do anything (like design and build a gorgeous walnut dining table to seat 12) with a quick watch of a YouTube video or two, and always creams all opponents in game play, particularly if the game involves any sort of strategy. It’s obnoxious for the rest of us, really, all his giftings.

But the guy, he doesn’t say much, he’s a man of few words. He’s been working in his current medical office for over 6 years and just last week, he made a joke in passing a group of colleagues in the hall, to which they responded in mock surprise, “He speaks!”

It’s true - he does occasionally speak - but more often, he’s known as the quiet one. But when he does choose to offer up a few of his precious words, they tend to carry a lot of meaning. Which leads me to the topic I want to share about this morning.

Today we will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary! THIRTEEN YEARS! We are becoming teenagers of marriage. I’ve always felt anniversaries are worthy of the greatest of celebrations. They are a big deal, honoring the work of two people fighting for oneness and all the mess that that entails.

While there was never a doubt in either of our minds that we would make it this far, neither of us would have predicted nor chosen the course of our path. It has not been easy but I think it’s safe to say we are pretty proud of how far we’ve come. We enjoy being together, we’ve worked really hard to figure out how to make a good team, and we complement each other well.

I know I’ve said this most years, but this year I really mean it: it was a HARD year. We’ve been trudging through a darker season as we work through the different ways our own personal wirings pose challenges and even impart pain upon the other. We’ve been marching along, working to address my struggles with intrusive thoughts and his challenges with focus. Plus some other fun bonus baggage that we are unpacking on the side.

I’ve found it extremely difficult to carry the weight of my own pain, but also I have begun to recognize that it is exponentially more difficult to hold the fact that the things that cause me pain, cause him pain too. I’ve felt raw and tender as my eyes have been opened to the fact that the very way I am wired - my insecurities, my weaknesses, my struggles, result in pain for the one I love the most dearly. There was a point in my life where I couldn’t handle the fact that I caused him pain. I managed the hurt by blame-shifting. How is it that I am the only problem here? Rather than owning my part, I deflected like a hot potato, because the discomfort was too much to hold. I knew I had my “stuff,” but it was easier to shine a spotlight on him than admit my part. Yet inwardly, I chidded myself constantly.

There have been so many times where I’ve wanted to crawl into a vacuum and do my work in isolation. I’d rather go into hiding, walk through the hardship alone, and then come out when I’m “fixed” and healed so as to spare him from the journey.

I had one such moment recently, where my pain was tangible and I was lamenting the fact that in dealing with my own issues, he was forced to come along for the ride. My muck became his muck, solely because of a commitment we made to one another, late on a Saturday afternoon 13 years ago.

“You don’t deserve this!” I mourned. “I wish I would have worked through all this baggage before we started dating. I don’t want you to have to hurt because of me. YOU DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS!”

It was after I said this that he cut me off with some of the most meaningful words he has ever said to me, words I will never forget, words that will forever replay in my mind until I’m old and gray.

“Yes, I did,” he said. “I did sign up for this.”

I softened as I absorbed his meaning. He was absolutely right. He did sign up for this. We both did. We committed to each other “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.” We didn’t know in exact detail how this promise would pan out in the life we built together, but we did each indeed sign up for this. All of this. Every day.

We’ve done a lot of work and we’ve experienced a lot of growing pains and we are both now more willing to own our “stuff,” recognizing it’s a fact of life and we all have it. We’ve been exercising the muscles that keep us from shame-spiraling under the weight of our loads, practicing the art of setting our stuff aside and working together as a team to address it, rather than dragging it around like an anchor all the time.

You guys, I married an incredible, incredible person. I don’t think many people would have been strong enough to put up with such a slow and arduous slug through my own personal muck. But he does and is and his commitment and unwavering love astounds me. He is relentlessly willing to step into the fire with me and fight for our refinement. He’s really brave, you guys. I hope one day to be able to stand together on “the other side” of our pain and high five as we yell “we did it!”

This is what it’s all about. It’s about stepping forward when you want to retreat, continuing to run when you desperately want to walk. It’s about playing together, laughing often, crying out on your knees, and always continuing to fight the good fight.

Today, we celebrate together like the teenagers of marriage that we are. Happy Anniversary to the one I chose and choose!

1 comment:

posted by kelsie