How Marriage Works for Us

Monday night was date night. Our babysitter came over and the boys practically shoved us out the door. We jumped in the truck and headed to a restaurant that we reserve for date nights. It is not conducive for four small children; at least, not in our opinion. We talked about a little of everything over our Japanese food: dissertations, podcast interviews, homeschooling. Then we went to Lowe’s. Because every good date night ends at Lowe’s.

(Honestly, I haven’t figured out if that’s because we’re getting old or because we live in a small town. Either way, I usually come home with another houseplant so I don’t question the decision too much.)

When we were almost home, Justin mentioned that he really liked me. (Gag alert: we often have these conversations about being each other’s favorite person.) Of course, I started thinking about why our marriage works.

Short answer- Jesus, duh.

Celebrating Ten Years of Us

Justin and I are celebrating our ten year anniversary tomorrow. I distinctly remember writing our seven year anniversary post and it feels like the years are just flying by, regardless of how hard and slow they seem day by day sometimes.

One of my favorite memories of marriage this year is from when I was in labor with Luke. I was sitting on the hospital bed, holding a popsicle during a contraction, and he quietly walked over and took the popsicle from me. When I mentioned this to him several months later, he didn’t even remember doing it. But he knew me (this was baby #4 after all) and he was paying attention.

Sending Him Out: When the Husband Isn’t Home

I’m always joking with friends that my husband’s work schedule and service opportunities would be much nicer for me if I didn’t like him. If I didn’t like him, I wouldn’t care if he was at home. It’s not that he doesn’t balance his work/family time, he does. It’s not that I don’t get more done when he’s gone, I definitely do. But he’s my favorite person. If I had my way, I’d have him around a lot more.

This can cause me to struggle with some attitude problems. (Also, I’ve discovered that I have way more attitude problems as an adult than I ever did growing up. Why did no one tell me that would be an issue?) While my husband is “mine”; he doesn’t belong to me first. He belongs to God first and I fully believe that one of my roles in life is to help Justin serve God better because he’s married to me.

What Anxiety Teaches Me about Marriage

I rolled over in bed and saw my husband pulling on his shirt. He leaned over to kiss me goodbye and I wished him luck at his ball tournament. We normally go with him but since he was leaving early, traveling several hours, and coming back after bedtime, I opted to stay home with the boys. As I heard the door shut behind him, I was overcome with fear that something would happen to him as he was traveling.

My overactive imagination is sometimes a blessing but more often a curse. Dan Zadra said, “Worry is a misuse of the imagination” and that misuse has colored my life. Justin was traveling with his assistant coach, a parent, and four of his athletes and I didn’t just imagine a car wreck. I could see the headlines: “Homeschool Athletes and Coaches Die on Trip to Tournament.” I pictured myself having to tell our boys that their daddy was dead. I imagined myself having to give birth to this fourth baby that would never know his father without Justin’s steadying presence. I saw myself trying to figure out all the things in our life that Justin takes care of.

This fear has been present my whole life. I remember being terrified that our house would burn down while we were away when I was growing up. I remember thinking, “But if I leave and go to this event, something might happen.” Once a pastor said that the story of Job comforted him in the worst of life’s problem.  My reaction to Job? He just makes me afraid that my whole family will die.

The Comparison Trap in Marriage

I really have gotten better at the brutal game of comparison with other women. I don’t handle it perfectly but it no longer consumes me as it has in the past. But recently I’ve found myself wrestling with another art of comparison that I thought I left behind long ago.

My husband had the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. It made for some great memories, a few magical moments, and other moments when I wished for bedtime and a normal routine.

When he went back to work, I found myself suddenly the only adult to whom the children could offer their requests. Three people constantly plying, and often whining (we’re working on it), about the things they wanted, needed, or injustices that were being done.

My response was irritation at my husband whose life I had suddenly decided was much easier than mine. After all, he can go to the bathroom in quiet, whenever he likes. He can leave work and come home to eat lunch, or stay at work in the conference room ordering lunch in like an adult, or leave and run out to get fast food. No buckling other people in car seats or telling children not to fight while they wait on their turn to walk out the door.

Why Marriage Doesn’t Just “Work Out”

I just saw someone else say on social media that their relationship, their marriage, just wasn’t working out. Not that there was abuse or infidelity which are different circumstances, but just, oh hey, this isn’t so great.
 
You want to know something?
 
Marriage doesn’t just “work out.”
 
There’s no magic to a good marriage. It’s not that some people are gifted with what it takes to stay married and be happy about it. Marriage doesn’t just work out because there are only happy feelings and happy days. That’s not real life and a marriage must sustain real life.
 
Marriage doesn’t just work out because you always agree or because hard times doesn’t come. Marriage works out because you learn to compromise, because you learn to lead and follow. Marriage works out because you turn toward each other in hard times and not away.