“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'” Genesis 2:18 NIV
I haven’t discussed much about my marriage on the blog and there’s a reason for that: I hold it pretty close to my heart. And, although I like to share those things which are near and dear to me with others, the sanctity of marriage, well, it’s just that – pretty darn sacred. However, the Lord is now telling me that He is okay with it, and that it may be beneficial to share some things about my own marriage with others. So I’m listening, and obeying.
My husband is aware of this and is behind it and supportive of it all the way; me sharing what the Lord lays on my heart or his through this blog adventure. I think that is MAJOR, friends! Having a husband who has no fear about his wife sharing it all with anyone who wishes to read about it? Whoa. He’s a cool dude.
Hubby’s Name? Mark.
Kind of Dude He is? Rad – and a true man of God! (It couldn’t get any better than that!)
I met Mark when I was 12 years old, but it’s not what you think. We didn’t grow up together, stay just with each other, and then get married, only to live happily ever after. A LOT of stuff happened between the age of 15 and 25 before we actually got married. Stuff that didn’t include Anne and Mark in the picture as a couple, much less one committed to the Lord together. THAT story, is a miracle in and of itself, and I shall share it another time. But we did have a good puppy love kind of foundation from a very young age. We just weren’t yet “One.”
But we did reunite by the grace of God after I graduated from college, and we were married within six months after that. The Lord did a lot in that time. We spent a TON of time on the phone (Kansas to Colorado and vice versa) talking, crying, and laughing. We essentially “phone dated”, friends. I always say that was as good as any other kind of dating foundation before an engagement. We talked more in those phone conversations than we may have over the first ten years of our marriage. The hours of talking add up to be quite extensive that way. No interruptions, no physical distractions getting in the way, and the phone bill we had between us added up too! It was worth it.
I remember when we were newly married, we went to the store and ran into one of our old bible teachers that we knew in junior high. He pulled Mark aside and said “Guard your marriage with your life.” I will never forget that. Those words have stuck with me all through this 21 year awesome union that we have been blessed with, for sure.
But what I want to share today, is how Satan used those words, and that concept to twist things up in my own little mind – and we still came out all the better and all the stronger for it.
- I move to Colorado to marry the man that I know the Lord had planned for me all along – no question about it.
- He loves me and I love Him – we do all the “right” things: Premarital biblical counseling, making sure God was the core of our marriage, and making our plans accordingly.
- Mark has a highly demanding job. He works hard, sometimes into the night, because the job simply requires that.
- Anne starts to feel really sad – really lonely – really lost- pretty angry. No friends of her own, her family back in Kansas, and the few friends we had that were mutual, well, it just didn’t work out for us to spend much time with them.
- Mark feels unsupported as Anne is always complaining. He is working hard, has the best of intentions, and doesn’t fully understand why she is being so unsupportive.
- Anne decides to try to embrace it rather than fight it as a way to protect her feelings toward Mark – she wants to support him, and she seeks a job of her own.
- Mark and Anne decide to do their best to live in peace and accept the circumstances. It doesn’t really work out too well.
- Mark and Anne begin to live somewhat separate lives.
So there’s the beginning. I found a great job at a Christian ministry, and Mark and I found a way to make things work so we would fight less. We still had arguements sometimes, make no mistake, but this seemed to help in that arena. But the enemy had gotten in – we didn’t even realize just how far in he actually was.
Kids came into our life and we were (still are!) blessed. At a certain point, I had to give up my awesome job at the Christian organization. This was hard for me. It probably shouldn’t have been, but it was. I see now what caused that to be so difficult, which I will explain.
After a couple of years, we felt I needed to go back to work. We made changes in regard to Mark’s worklife, and one of the consequences of making that good change was that I strongly felt I needed to bring in some income and get a job with relatively inexpensive insurance benefits to help Mark feel he could make this change. This change was definitely for the better for our family, friends. Mark would still be working a LOT, but have a life. What he had been doing before was just sucking the life out of him, our marriage, and our relationship with God. So, we didn’t take this lightly – me going back to work.
The Lord blessed us and allowed me to find a job in which I could work at night, when everyone else in the family was sleeping. We felt this was good, because it enabled me to still be with the kids in the mornings, keep them out of full time daycare, get them to school, their activities, run the household, all that good stuff. It also removed some pressure in regard to the change at work Mark needed to make. (I think we were still relying far too much on ourselves for our sense of “security” at this point, yet we learned from it all)
As I write this, I truly wonder how we pulled this off. But then I have to remember: I was ten years younger when this started. It really wasn’t hard until I started to go through this middle-age, hormonal stuff a few years ago. Then the hammer came down. Anne could no longer handle this kind of schedule. We struggled for about three years in regard to this and, as you know, finally made the decision for me to stop. Tonight is my last night there. We are starting a new chapter – it’s taken a while to turn the page, but we’re there.
As you know, even more than that, the Lord has called us back to having me being with my family at night now – and to spending the time that I work in ministry – that is as big of a factor in this as the physical stuff. Honestly, it’s the main factor, friends.
But what I really and truly want to share with you the most is this……….
We are so blessed that this is happening, friends. We are looking forward to getting to spend time together in the evenings again, having sit down dinners as a family again a few times each week, having time to actually have discussions, lay in bed and read our bibles together, pray without rushing, all that good stuff. Many people don’t realize just how a schedule like we were operating on really, really looks. Let me describe it:
Mark gets up at 5 am, just right after or right around when Anne lays down for an hour or two before taking kids to school. Mark and Anne don’t see each other’s faces at that point. Anne sleeps after taking kids to school, gets ready, and goes to work without seeing Mark the majority of the time. We would go three days or more sometimes without even seeing each other’s face.
So, to cope with that and not have it completely tear your marriage apart, what do you do? You can continue to blame one another and fight, or you make the best of it. We decided to make the best of it and pray about making the very change we are making as of today.
During those three years from when we started praying until now, I realized something. We had started to actually make this work too well. I won’t speak for Mark, but for Anne, she found a way to embrace it rather than fight it, because fighting it sends Anne to a very, very bad place. See, I think we got tunnel vision and thought that we had only two options: work at night, or quit and have no insurance or income.
There were actually more than two all along – God is not that limited. We just weren’t looking up and looking to Him for what He wanted for us. We weren’t all the way in – and in a sense, we were approaching it all wearing our little smarty pants! It’s been quite humbling.
I started to make my little love list of reasons why this was actually good for us – me working at night. I’d tell myself things like “That’s probably why we are still married” (joking, but kind of not) – “if we were around each other too much, we’d start to fight.” Or, “this is good, because it’s kind of like dating and makes us appreciate one another.” Or, if I was really being honest, “I don’t want to risk not liking him much by getting in each other’s hair and space too much after all these years of doing it this way – ug, what if it makes us fight to be around each other too much.”
Uh-huh. See how the enemy did that in my mind? He took the “guarding your marriage” thing and twisted it up. He took the good intention of not wanting to look at the glass half empty, make the best of something that just no longer seemed right and in line with God’s will for us, and turned it into selfishness, fear, and no matter how you cut it, bondage. It became “guard Anne’s heart” more than “honor and guard your marriage.”
So, we are excited, friends. But if I am really honest with myself, I am nervous about it too, and that is why the Lord is nudging me to share today. I have work to do with the Lord in that area, for sure. I want to guard my marriage, and I know the decision we are making will do just that. But I also know we are going to cramp each other’s style now that we will be around each other more. We are going to get in each other’s “space”, yo! And that, sadly, after almost 22 years of marriage, is something we don’t quite know how to do yet: how to live with each other and actually be around each other a LOT, but still get along. It’s never happened. We’ve never been in that position. And that’s kind of scary.
But guess what? God can handle scary. (poof!) He will teach us. And I have great peace about that. Mark and I talked about this last night. He was doing the dishes, something he has taken over for the last several years. That dude has a serious system worked out, man! I will be the first to tell you that I am not as methodical as he is about how to properly load a dishwasher. My goal is just to shove them in there and run it and then put them away. Mark is utterly gifted when it comes to maximizing the use of space, something I have always been terrible about! He can get more into one trashbag or suitcase than I could ever even think to imagine! I love this about him, as it doesn’t cause waste. I don’t mean to waste, but I just have never been good about learning how to do stuff like that. I like lots of room to move.
So as he was doing those dishes last night, I mentioned it: “You know, we are going to need to be on guard about how we speak to one another now that we will be around each other more.” He looked at me and I could see it in his eyes: he’d been thinking the same thing.
He will, for example, share an idea with me about how to load the dishwasher better. And sometimes, I get upset if he doesn’t say it just the right way. This is because I am a thoughts-driven person – what goes on in my head is the following….”wow, I took the kids to school, filled out 18 forms, turned them all in, made 10 phone calls and appointments, managed the family calendar, cleaned the whole house, spent sometime getting the blog done, answered prayer requests, went to the doctor’s office, stopped by the store, did three loads of laundry, still have an entire shift to do at work tonight, and you are talking to me right now about one dish I didn’t load properly into the dishwasher? Really?”
And here’s what I do to him: He tells me about a situation and I say, “when you talk to him, you might say _____ so that he doesn’t feel bad.” To Mark, if I am not careful, it comes across as me telling him what to do or as thought I don’t think he is smart enough to think of that himself. This is a tough one for me, because I am just trying to help, him, just as he is only trying to help me about the dishwasher. But a lot of times, I realize that the way I can help him best is to ask some questions after listening, instead of just sharing my thoughts on what might help him. He is an intelligent man and I don’t make sure he knows that I know and appreciate that enough! Then I realize just how dumb I actually still am sometimes when it comes to how to share thoughts and ideas with men. Dufus!
Not so Ha Ha!
Anyway, friends, we can go the wrong direction as far as “guarding our marriage” goes in the sense that we can start to fear letting anything in that may make things uncomfortable, can’t we? And that is based in fear, not honor and love. It’s also rooted in self-sufficiency.
Just like everything else, we need to trust the Lord about all of this – yes, we need to put on the armor of God every single day and guard what is holy, pure, and true. But ultimately, we must trust Him and remember it is He who has the power, not us. He gives it to us as we seek it. He will guard our marriage and help us to take the steps we need to carry that out. If we try to do it, we will screw it up just like Mark and I did.
And “cramping” can be good, you know. It makes us a bit uncomfortable, and causes us to take a look at why that discomfort is there. I want Mark to “cramp my style” a little and take some of “my space”, because I want it to be “our style” and “our space” now. It’s just not going to be an easy change. I am so blessed and thankful that we get to do it together though, with God right there in the center of it all!
The giving up of self never ends, does it? And I thank my Lord, my God every single day for making it clear to me that I still have a lot to learn from Him, as well as many blessings to reap and share with others. We know there will be snow. We know there will be sunshine. There will be rain, and clouds, flowers and warmth. We don’t really care what the weather is – we are just glad we will be together. Actually, it feels a lot like Christmas; the Lord giving us gifts and blessings to celebrate all He can do in us because of Jesus Christ.
Here’s to all God can do as He helps us turn the pages and start new chapters in love and in life!
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV