Writing that title without capital letters is hard. But I’ve done much harder things in life. Watching your wife suffer with jaw pain, praying for a 24-year old friend to beat cancer and then standing in front of his casket, hearing your dad has Leukemia, are just a handful of the hard things I’ve walked through.
Being a dad is hard. Mostly because I’m not a kid person. I find it hard to relate, hard to pretend “play”, etc.
But marriage. Marriage is hard. Marriage is everyday. It’s 24/7 hard. Like hard. For realz (as the kids say).
Don’t get me wrong. I love being married, and I LOVE Danielle, but loving Danielle every day and holding up my end of the vows is not always a walk in the park.
You see, I’m fairly forgetful, I think it’s part of the Male condition, for whatever reason. And Danielle values having things done (gifts of service for you 5 Love Languages peeps). And I try, I really do. Sometimes I try too much and just ending up forgetting in incredibly epic fashion. #FAIL, if you will.
And yet Danielle loves me, even though I drive her completely cuckoo at times. For that, I’m eternally grateful. She claims not to be patient and caring sometimes, but she is.
Lately Danielle has been “interesting” to live with. I blame the baby! (just kidding, Baby Barden) Something about hormones and such. And I get it. I do. But it can be challenging at times. I risked bodily harm by informing her one evening that she was, frankly, being crazy. She took it remarkably well, because she’s awesome like that. She can admit when she’s being more Almond Joy than Mounds.
And here’s a little secret. Ready? Being an only child, I value my alone time. Because for roughly 20 years of my life or so I basically had as much of it as I wanted. So to be by myself for a day, or two, or three, is no big deal. It’s not that I don’t like being around Danielle or Fitzy, but sometimes…I just need my space.
I enjoy golfing. 3-4 hours of just being out in the elements playing a game that is deeply maddening and enjoyable at the same time, usually with friends. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But, it does take me away from the rest of my family. So I am working on finding a balance. Which is hard.
Lately Danielle has been on my nerves and I’ve been on hers. Sometimes I think we need a separate vacation, but you didn’t hear that from me I think my problem is that I assume she’s going to be upset about something, so I go on defense automatically. I just can’t help it. And Danielle assumes I will forget something or not do something, so she goes into “prepare to be disappointed” mode, if you will.
And yet we work. We keep at it, because it’s worth it. Now, more than ever, society needs examples of marriages that work, in spite of all the challenges. So we fight.
I’m watching The Office. Jim and Pam are in marriage counseling. OH THE HORROR!
I know – it’s a television show – it’s NOT real. Just remember that I know that.
Pam was engaged. To a jerk. She wasn’t happy. She met Jim at work. They became close friends. They fell in love. Jim asked her to choose him. She said no. Jim left. Pam called off the wedding. Jim started dating someone else. But we all knew they were meant to be. They FINALLY got together. They got married. Had two babies. Jim got a new job. His focus changed. Pam may have gotten a little too close to a friend – a guy friend. They are asking the hard questions to other people – not each other.
Why would the writers take it down this road? This can’t happen to Jim and Pam. They have the perfect relationship.
Because it happens. To the best of us.
We lose sight of what it means to be married. What it means to actually put someone else ahead of our own needs and wants. We get selfish. We start to confide in someone else. We start to put more value in their opinion than our spouse’s. We start to assume.
And then it all comes out. We find out that we’ve lied to each other. We’ve lied to ourselves. We’ve become someone we don’t recognize. We’ve said things that we regret. We’ve asked each other questions that we never thought we would. We don’t know how to trust each other.
Because it happens. To the best of us.
Because we aren’t the best. Because we are human. Because we are sinful.
Because we need Jesus more than we need each other. And sometimes crappy stuff has to happen for us to realize that.
Jim and Pam can make it. They need to ask each other the hard questions. They need to cry. They need to say I’m sorry. They need to forgive. They need to get on the same page.
Sacrifices had to be made. An aspect of my job. A relationship with a friend. The reliance on a FACEBOOK account. Time. Sleep. Priorities.
It was hard. Really truly very hard. We talked. We cried. We yelled. We forgave. We learned to trust again. We re-evaluated our marriage. What it meant to be in this. Together. What the new rules had to be and living within those boundaries.
A year ago – I didn’t know what would happen. I wasn’t sure where we would be today. Seriously.
We turned to Jesus. And he helped us turn to each other and stay there. We’re on the same page. We’ve made sacrifices. We are in an awesome place – a place I didn’t think could exist. It was hard. Because life is hard. But so worth it.
While we didn’t turn to marriage counseling – we would have. If you’re reading this and you’re struggling with your spouse – no matter what the issue is – it’s not going to just go away. I’m willing to bet it will only get worse. Confront the issue. Let your feelings be heard – not pushed aside. Remember that your marriage is more important than any friendship. Remember that you are in this together. Remember why you got married in the first place. Remember why you fell in love. Go there. Stay there.
I’ve been a huge fan of The Office ever since we started watching several years ago. It’s hit or miss anymore, especially since Michael left, but I can’t give up on it now.
This season they’ve introduced a new story line where Jim takes a job in Philadelphia for a sports marketing company. Jim took the job without his wife, Pam, knowing. Then he invested a large chunk of change in the startup. Finally he starts commuting between Scranton and Philadelphia, and at this point in the season he seems to be in Philadelphia more often than not.
Along the way, as one would expect, tensions grow. To the point where Jim gets a bit frustrated and “nasty”, if you will, with Pam during several exchanges.
And then it happened. All of a sudden it becomes somewhat clear that one of the cameramen working on the documentary has a thing for Pam. He saves her from an enraged warehouse employee, offers a shoulder to cry on after a rough conversation with Jim, etc.
I HATE, HATE, HATED this storyline at first. I was afraid they were ruining one of the best story arcs of the entire series. If they messed with Jim and Pam, I was not going to be a happy camper!
Truth is, this story, and stories like it, are all too familiar in our society. It happens to the best of us. I know.
Last year was a rough year for us. We had a 1-year old who was <strong>not</strong> sleeping well, which basically turned us into parent zombies, had just gone through the first of 2 miscarriages of the year and were dealing with settling into a new church after a rough experience. Needless to say, things were stressful.
I can identify with the Jim/Pam arc in that I lost sight of what was important in my life. I started to value other people’s opinions and advice more than Danielle’s, who was (in my mind) kind of driving me bonkers and not really paying attention to me, what with a little guy to take care of and a business to run.
I became a person, that, looking back, I’m fairly ashamed of. I was downright nasty to Danielle at times, lied to her on several occasions and our relationship took a back seat to other pursuits.
I hope Jim and Pam’s story plays out the way ours has. We had some difficult talks. We yelled. We cried. We worked through our hurts. We did the hard work to make things work.
I’m happy to say I don’t even recognize that person from a year ago. Our relationship has improved more than I thought possible at the time. In a way I’m almost glad this happened, because our relationship is stronger now than it’s ever been.
If you’re having struggles in your relationship, you’re certainly not alone, and you’re not a failure. Relationships are hard. Marriage is hard. Perhaps harder than any other relationship you’ll ever experience.
If you need help – get it! Yes, marriage is hard. It’s messy at times. It’s draining, but it is most definitely worth fighting for.
Like Danielle said, that’s a pretty loaded question, but that’s how we like to roll.
I have to digress a little bit to share one of the things that first stuck out to me about Danielle (besides the fact she seemed to like to wear dark’ish clothes and seemed a bit mysterious when I first met her).
My memory is not the greatest at times, but I remember being wowed hearing Danielle speak Campus Crusade for Christ one night. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but it was clear then (and also before) that she loved Jesus. I’ll never forget hearing her speak (even if I can’t remember it all. Sorry, babe!)
Fast forward to our pre-marriage counseling. A dear friend, who later officiated at our wedding, said something to the effect “if you keep Christ as the center of your marriage, you can make it through anything.” I know, I know. That sounds totally cliché, but it has proven to be true time and time again.
When I look back at all the things we’ve been through in our marriage, and continue to go through, I don’t know how we would have made it without Jesus. I think one or both of us would probably have given up at some point along the way.
I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
<blockquote>Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.</blockquote>
I see myself and Danielle so much in these verses. There have been times where we’ve had to “help each other up” spiritually. When we dealt with our first miscarriage I really tried to maintain faith and encourage Danielle that our time would come, and it did. God was faithful, although we couldn’t understand His plan at that time.
When I’ve battled with anxiety and depression, Danielle has stayed strong for me. She’s walked with me, cried with me and prayed with me. She’s helped me keep my eyes on Jesus during times where it was hard to on my own. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God put us into each other’s lives and knew how we would complement each other and help each other in our faith.
I’d love to sit here and tell you what a great job we’ve done at keeping Jesus the center of our marriage. How we’ve read through the Bible together. How our spiritual growth has just continued year after year of our marriage.
But I’d rather not lie to to you. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus is at the center of our marriage, holding it together, but it hasn’t always been easy keeping Him there, and quite frankly, we often fall short. Many times life gets in the way. Hurt gets in the way. We get in the way and make a mess of things.
That’s the awesome thing about Jesus. He loves us. No matter what. We’ve failed so many times, and we will continue to fail, but that will NEVER change His love for us (and his love for you, too, by the way). And because He loves us, we can share that love with others.
I can tell you this. I have not always done a very good job of sharing that love with the people I know. But my hope is that by reading this blog you can experience the love that Jesus has for you, and let that love transform your marriage into something beyond your wildest imagination.
While you fight for your marriage, fight to keep Jesus at the center of your marriage.
Oh. My. Word.
We’ve been busy being married and being parents and being friends. This blog totally suffered – but it’s been in the back of my mind almost every day. I wrote down LISTS of topics and FINALLY have a moment to write.
Why not dive RIGHT in and ask a hard one. Does Jesus have a place in your marriage.
Let me tell you about the role He plays in ours – from my perspective.
When Jared and I started dating – I told him I wasn’t interested in a relationship – but a marriage. It freaked him out. He needed a few days to adjust and let that sink in. That didn’t mean that I wanted to marry him RIGHT THEN – but that I wasn’t about being in a relationship that went nowhere. If any red flags came up – on either side – then it was over. I didn’t want to hang on to something that wouldn’t last. He met my parents on our first date. I’d known his for a while. Family was very important to both of us – we accepted that we wouldn’t just be marrying each other – but our families too. It was very important to both of us that we shared the same beliefs – politically and morally. Check. We both knew that we needed to marry someone who loved Jesus – had Him living inside their heart. Check.
Have we done a good job at keeping Jesus in the center of our marriage – eh – mediocre at best. But He has always been there – especially when it matters. Well – we really turned to Him when it mattered. He was always there waiting. We’ve prayed together – cried together – fought together – read together – taught together – loved together.
I have no idea how to love people without Jesus in my heart. I have a hard enough time loving them with Him hanging out in there. I cannot imagine what it would be like without. Let me tell you why.
Jesus bled for me – died for me. He has forgiven me. He loves me. Because I have experienced that love – I share it. I try to represent the love of Jesus through it – I fail most of the time. But I know what it’s like to be broken and empty – and thanks to Jesus I know what’s it’s like to be healed and full. Living with someone and sharing my life with them – could only be done with Jesus on my side.
I get angry and judgmental. I get impatient and unkind. I get irrational and sometimes just mean. Without Jesus in my life – I would be horrendous to live with. To love. Without Jesus in my marriage – I wouldn’t be so quick to admit my wrongs – and I have LOTS. I wouldn’t be so willing to work on our issues and to forgive. I wouldn’t know where to turn with my worries and my doubts. Jared and I take them to Jesus – together.
It’s not just about going to church together. It’s not about raising a child in the church together. It’s about loving Jesus. Together. It’s about spending this life on earth with the person that Jesus made exactly for me and spending eternity with him in heaven after this is all said and done. I cannot imagine spending my life on earth with someone that I would never see again after this life. Someone that I know would be spending their eternity in hell – in pain – in turmoil.
Having Jesus in the center of marriage has been THE reason we stay together. The reason we work our crap out. The reason we forgive. The reason we love.
Seriously Jared – you only have ONE thing that drives you nuts about me? C’mon man. You cannot pick the topic anymore. Because I am going to look awful now!
I have lots. Most of them – probably all of them – are just about stupid things. Like where he puts (or doesn’t put) his shoes – coats – clothes – books – etc. When he says I DON’T KNOW to almost EVERYTHING – serious or not – I don’t know. Dude – you HAVE to know. When he doesn’t remember to do things that are done over and over and over again – like take out the garbage – throw empty water bottles away.
Now – I am sure that if Jared thought about it – another thing that drives him crazy about me is that i say things like ALWAYS and NEVER. You NEVER remember to take out the garbage. Why do you ALWAYS forget to tell me when you take money out. Things like that.
I’m a recovering perfectionist. It’s something that I don’t allow to control me anymore – but it’s hard and I work at it every single day.
When I was in high school – I would measure the distance between my hangers in my closet and the distance between my pictures on the wall – they had to be in even or whole numbers. Odd numbers are ugly to me. I hate them. Weird. I know. I also copied over my notes that I took in class every night – until they looked and felt right. The things on my dresser were in a certain place at a certain angle. My sister used to mess with me and I knew as soon as I walked in. I would get so mad and have to spend the night fixing everything. Samm and I shared a room our whole lives until my junior year in college – and she is NOT a perfectionist – or even close.
When things weren’t “perfect” – I would have anxiety attacks – but not like you would normally think. There was a time that I couldn’t swallow anything solid – so I only ate applesauce and things I could mash up and struggle to get down. No reason – a serious mental fixation thing. I thought I had a yawn stuck once – for quite a while. I couldn’t sleep lying down cus I thought my heart would stop. I would wonder how my body knew to breathe – then I would panic thinking that I forgot. That one still gets me when I get anxious.
Most of my pet peeves about Jared are because while he also struggles with being a perfectionist – he doesn’t struggle in the ways I do. He is messy. I am not. And it drives me nuts!
Do I let them build up from time to time and pile EVERYTHING he’s done “wrong” in the past week on top of him at once? No … not me. Never. Only if never means much more often that I should be. Then I wonder why it’s so hard building him up when all I’ve been doing is putting him down.
God is really working in me with the whole being in control issue – cus when you get down to it – that’s what perfectionism is about. Being in control. And I’m not. No matter how much I like to think I am.
I’m His child – living here on this earth to love and share His news. I’m Jared’s wife – loving him and encouraging him. Asking for forgiveness when I fail.