marriage problems

Well, the title might be a little lofty, but follow me anyway.

I have been dealing with some stuff. And we all deal with some stuff. Yet lately my stuff seems so heavy and prevalent that it’s hard for me to even see the world around me. And I have become a hermit. Girls, sometimes just dealing with life is just way too flipping hard.

It’s easy to do (becoming a hermit, that is). I mean, I don’t really like being around people much at times. Sometimes, I don’t like people much at all. I hate small talk. I despise insincerity, I can be way too intense, and I usually feel like an alien in a room of people who look just like me.

Stuff with the kids, legal junk, business stress, work drama, bad days, weight gain, marriage conflict, financial strain, anxiety, depression, blah-blah-blah. Toss in limited time to relax or exercise, a nacho addiction, and the lurking worry that you might be drinking too often, and then you’re like,

“Hey world, here I am: a doughy, middle aged, stressed out mom, who cusses too much, maybe drinks too much,  who is socially awkward, overly critical, with alarmingly limited conflict resolution skills and a constant feeling of being stretched too thin. Who wants to hug the cactus?”

Why would I leave the house, if I am getting on my own nerves?

So I have bammed myself in, stopped writing, taken to living off of yogurt and a healthy/not-so-healthy fend for yourself mantra, and become a spectator of the world around me.

And now I am peeling back the layers of heartache, and months of good intentions, and trying to reintegrate into a world that sometimes feels like a revolving doors with giant cheese grater panels in place of the glass.

And it’s weird.

But I made myself do it. At least a little. And I lived.

Last week I invited a friend to get pedicures. Then I drove the next day to see a friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 or so years. I went to church two days after that, and then later that day, went to a book club with more than a dozen women, some of them strangers, but none of them my best friend, or my bourbon, or my cozy couch blanket. And today, I had a newer friend over, and made her lunch and held her baby and just talked. And it felt right for the first time in a long time. I was tired, and needed a nap after, but it was still good.

I could use the “peeling off the band-aid” analogy but that’s not accurate. I don’t have a wound. I am a wound. I am a downright mess some days, but I still have love and need love, so I have to leave the house, or open my doors and let others in, at least sometimes.

Have your ever been to the “petting” area of an aquarium and petted little sharks or sting-rays? Once when I was there, a worker said that the sting-rays like to rub up against people to keep their skin smooth. While I don’t have any proof that she knew what she was talking about, I can relate to this image: I have smoother edges when I rub elbows with other humans, and months of funk start to rub off when I finally emerge from the hidden sands in the safe and shallow end of the ocean.

People need people. Even grumpy, prickly, critical, anti-social, stressed out people. I also needed the months of hiding. Heck, it’s kind of been years. But for everything there is a season, and spring is finally coming. Did anyone automatically think of this though, lol?

Image result for winter is coming meme

Winter is over and it’s feeling kind of good to move around again and plan a little life, to hug old friends, to hear new opinions, make new friends and even hold babies. I won’t lie and say it was all easy or pretend that I never felt a little out of place, but coming out of hiding will do that. The light is bright, but it’s so good for the soul.

If you are in a season of rest, just relish in it. But if your rest is becoming an addiction, a spot too comfortable and dark, maybe stick a pinky toe out from under your Cheeto covered blanket, climb out of your show hole, pop on some chap-stick, throw on some clothes with buttons and go rub some elbows, accept some hugs, or bounce a baby on your knee.

The healing is good out here. I’ll leave the light on for ya’.

This is a typical evening at our home. Byron is showing our 14-year-old how to do algebra.

This is a typical evening at our home. Byron is showing our 14-year-old how to do algebra.

Bear with me. For a minute you might think I am bragging about my husband, and you might actually try to gag yourself with a spoon, but I have a point worth waiting for. Several people have said to me that they think Byron and I have the perfect relationship. I used to take that as a compliment but not anymore.

I have a great husband and I know it. If I attempt to forget it, there are folks everywhere waiting to remind me. He is just a good man, and no one can deny it.

He gets lots of good guy points. He married a single mom with two young boys. He’s never been married, doesn’t have kids from a previous marriage, he’s self-employed, he’s a cutie, and he takes me on tropical getaways. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that we have problems too. We appreciate each other. We both feel lucky and blessed, but life has a way of being really hard sometimes. We disagree on parenting sometimes. We have “family” issues. We run a business (if you don’t get this, then you don’t own a business). We are infertile and have experienced a lot of loss and are coming to terms that we might not procreate as a couple. Money is a stressor. We have too many dogs, too many house repairs, too much laundry, and not enough time. Sometimes we fight.

Recently we hit a low in our marriage. We have been constantly upset with each other. He has been waking up sad, and I have been waking up mad. We went about our days, took care of our responsibilities, ate together, prayed together, parented together, but we have been resenting each other.

I have been in school for 3 years. My combined three-year income would make an awesome down payment on an overpriced handbag. I help him with the business. He helps the boys with homework. We both aim to please each other, but sometimes we each feel like a big fat steaming pile of not enough.

After a really hurtful fight (a loud argument with even louder feelings) we got even colder with each other. I was filled with darkness and rage. He was going through the motions looking like he had a virus. I kept praying each night to wake up feeling happy yet I woke up angrier each day, waiting on him to appreciate me a certain way, and to love me in my language.

Then I hit the lowest of the lows, still I kept praying for a morning that felt like joy. I laid in bed and read a book for school. The book wasn’t special in any way, but suddenly without premeditation or thought, I turned to Byron and said something to the effect of, “I am sorry for any words I have said to you over the last 8 years that may have been rude, critical or discouraging.” He looked astonished and asked, “Where did that come from?” The answer was, I didn’t know.

The next morning, I woke up…joyful…and grateful, and at peace again.

I was excited about taking the boys to school at the crack of dawn and facing my day. I took about fifteen minutes and read a few verses in the Bible and then let my head tilt back and began conversing with God. He said a couple of things:

“I didn’t put you through three years of school for nothing.”

(He knew I was wondering about that).

And then he said,

“You need to know the difference between letting your husband lead and looking to him for approval and affirmation; that’s what I am for.”

Ah. I had it all wrong. I had made my husband my “god” and when he couldn’t meet all my needs I punished him for it. And maybe he has done the same to me. My husband is the very best man I know, but he is a man, not a god and I cannot expect more than what God designed him for.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. (Eph. 5:25-28)

I like these verses. They allow me to be lovely, cared for and “blameless.” Here is the next verse:

He who loves his wife loves himself.

I think we were putting so much pressure on each other to perform a certain way but we were really doubting ourselves. We weren’t loving ourselves; so loving each other became harder each day.

Here’s the missing piece:

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:18-20)

Instead of living with a heart of true gratitude, I was saying the right things (please, thank you, good job, and you are awesome) but my heart was puny and dark, wishing for more and criticizing him for what I longed for that he was never intended to give me in the first place…godly affirmation and joy. Instead of genuinely thanking God for everything, I was secretly blaming and resenting my husband for everything.

Since I told him that I was sorry, we have laughed again and enjoyed each others’ company. We have shown mutual respect and genuine love. I have expected less, breathed more, and stopped trying to control him with my secret thoughts.

We still aren’t perfect and we never ever will be. We were never intended to be and that’s the problem. We were designed to serve each other, love each other, comfort each other, support each other and so much more, but we were not intended to lord over the other to meet our needs that can only be met by God.

Yes, my husband is human. And I am more than okay with that. I am grateful.

Byron did push ups because Jackson got all the steps of his algebra work completed correctly. Yeah, I love him :-)

Byron did push ups because Jackson got all the steps of his algebra work completed correctly. Yeah, I love him 🙂