Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Through the seasons of marriage with That Man

I want to apologize for my lack of promptness in responding to emails and comments lately. Life is pretty crazy right now!

But I wanted to share a portion of an email from a precious blog friend. I thought maybe some of you could identify with her: married 9 years with two toddlers at home:
Thank you for sharing about "the dark years" - that particularly caught my attention. Maybe b/c we had our girls 18 months apart and I'm in the throws of toddlerhood...

I wanted to ask you something that is totally strange, since you don't know me at all...but I want to know your thoughts about it.

Would you say there are "seasons" in your marriage where things are better than at other times - that you feel totally connected and other times that you haven't? And what did you do? Keep going I presume and keep praying. We have a good marriage, he is wonderful to me, but I wonder why I'm not satisfied sometimes?

Things can seem to be going along just fine with us and then suddenly I feel all in a funk and feel like there's gotta be more to this, etc. I don't know, maybe I'm in the dark moments right now. We just celebrated our 9th anniversary and I am so thankful for a Godly husband and how he treats me...I have 2 gorgeous children...yet why do I sometimes feel unhappy and long for the "newness" of a relationship, feeling just "blah."

There are days that I think I could not be more in love with this man and then days where I wonder if I married the right person.

Is this normal?
Anyone want to take a stab at this one?

My answer to my friend (and maybe to you) is this: YES.

Yes, this is normal; yes, I have experienced this; and yes, your marriage can make it through this time.

In 22 years of marriage, I can look back on certain decision-point moments where our commitment to each other - our vow before God - was pretty much the only thing that kept us together. We didn't realize just how close to the edge we were at the time, thank the Lord, maybe because we had made a commitment early on never to say the "D" word (divorce), so that wasn't even an option. But we clearly felt the tidal-wave pressures that have imploded other marriages all around us. Looking back on those times keeps us humble, keeps us working at it, and keeps us always saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

One of those times was during our first year, when, as a newlywed, I looked over at this immature kid (never mind that I was an immature kid, too!) and it hit me: I am stuck with this guy forever. What was I thinking?

Another time was at ten years, just like my friend. We had two little ones. I was so overwhelmed with my role change - from independent, working woman to hesitant, insecure diaper changer and spit-up mopper, and I had little to give to the relationship.

And more recently, at around twenty years. No big fights, no extra-marital affairs, just the busy-ness of life. It could have easily allowed us to drift apart, existing together as co-workers, living under the same roof, for the sole purpose of raising children.

At each of those moments (and many others in between), Dennis and I have had watershed conversations (meaning, water was shed from our eyes!). We went back to basics: We LOVE each other, for crying out loud. We are committed Christ followers. We believe God's idea for two people to stick together for life is a good one. We have something worth fighting for here.

And yet...we still have to live in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out. I get moody. He loses his keys. The kids fight. We get focused on other things around us. How can we keep our marriage fresh?

Well, I'm out of time here. Tomorrow I'll talk about this some more.

I'm interested to see if you guys have some thoughts on this, too. If you'd like to post about this, let me know and I'll link you!


Debbie said...

Oooh! Good post. This is right where we are at in our marriage. 12 years of marriage and 5 kids in 10 years. The busyness of life just takes over sometimes making you feel that you just co-exist to raise the kids.

We have been through some very hard times in the last 2-3 years, but we made the same commitment as you did when we got married, that we weren't even going to use the "D" word. I am very much in love w/ my hubby, and although some days are hard, we know that we have something worth fighting for.

Those marriage vow we made before God are promises to keep forever.

Laura said...

Absolutely there are seasons in a marriage. Thankfully we don't stay the same, God is constantly growing and stretching us. Same thing goes for our marriage, our friendships, the relationships with our children, extended family. And all of these things have an affect on our marriage.

Best thing you can do, in my opinion, is to commit to pray together EVERY day. If this is not a common practice, just give it a try. Praying together allows you to see your spouse in a new way. And never underestimate the power of prayer. Ask the Lord to give you a fresh new love for your husband!
Love this topic!! Blessings!!

Anonymous said...

Oh - I hope your dear email writer will begins to see from your response and others here how totally NORMAL she is.
We just celebrated our 18th year (this week) and I can tell you there are still times I go through the blahs in our marriage. It's usually when we're both busy and one or both of us just aren't being considerate and going the extra mile to make sure we're "OK".
A marriage takes a lot of work and you can never let your guard down. Just when things seem peachy it can turn around on a dime. Recognizing these times is half the battle and then being willing to take steps and make choices to change things.

Anonymous said...

Boy oh boy can I relate!!! We are in our 18th year of marriage, and I am in the thick of the "what am I doing with this man" right now?!?!? If it weren't for the grace of God and for our committment our marriage would be history. So often we live as just roommates with the kids as the common demonimator. But I think back to our vows to God and that keeps me plugging on. There are times that I long for that giddy, in love for the first time feeling. But then if I based my marriage on just that what would I have...nothing. I focus on his good attributes and pray with all my might. I pray for your friend to hang in there and to keep praying!

Katherine, I love your blog. I have been lurking in the shadows for months. We are on the move A.G.A.I.N.! Six, count them six! times in 10 years and we aren't even in the service!!!! Hang in there. You can do this! A move to the country is so very worth it. Our last move was to the country and we absolutely love it! Now if we could just find another acreage!!!

Anonymous said...

Katherine, I'm having fun reading about you and your blogs. Thanks for taking time from your busy life to blog. Can't wait till you post "our" interview later this month. Brenda Nixon

Jenn @ Knee-Deep in Munchkin Land said...

Oh yes, yes, yes! I so hear you on this post and your reader's comment. "There, but for the grace, go I." Such powerful words!

I recently had a newlywed friend show up on my doorstep, literally sobbing and wanting to give up on her marriage. Jon took her husband, I took her, and we had long conversations into the night. I have been contemplating such a post myself. (Granted, we've only been married for five years. I'm much more anxious to hear more of your thoughts on the subject.)

Queen to my 3 Boys said...

Your posts are really good - and encouraging. I know how busy you must be. Thank you for taking time out to speak to us!

Anonymous said...

Very good post! We just celebrated our 20th year of marriage. We go thru seasons as well.I would suggest making an extra effort to spend more time with her husband even it is just before going to sleep and having adult conversation.(not about the kids)

Anonymous said...

Katherine--Thanks so much for posting this. I could've written that reader's email myself. Same situation: two toddlers 18 months apart and a very loving husband and a case of the blahs on and off again. It has gotten somewhat better over the last couple of months (I believe it is bec. I have asked GOD to renew my mind) but I do still struggle with this. In fact, I thought about writing you with the very same question bec. you are one of the few moms I know who is honest enough to talk about "the dark years." Thanks so much for your honesty.

Becca~CapturingSimpleJoys said...

Just reiterating what the others have said! We've been married 12 years with two kiddos. To me when we are going through a blah, boring, frustrating time it always helps me to muster up the courage and simply sit my husband down and TELL him how I feel. Chances are he feels the same way. We have a good loooong talk, a nice evening "getting to know each other" and "magically" things feel better. I've learned that when we are going through the rough times it's usually when we've let the busyness of life and kids get in the way of our connecting as a couple. It's easy to do but so important to work not to let it.

Ladybug said...

I just love your posts. They are really honest and put it out there. We all go through these times but it helps tremendously to know that someone is going through it with you and understands. It also helps to hear that marriage is WORK!! :)

Jen said...

I have been battling this for months. How do you keep things fresh? In and out of the bedroom...sorry but it's out there. I'm so tired....or Miller stays up until we go to bed...or Madison is up or or or you know. I want to keep things fresh....any pointers on keeping focused on your husband and not the family all the time? I mean I cook his meals and do the laundry and keep the home clean but when it comes to his needs....I think I forget sometimes....the seasons in

Dimple Queen said...

I had a long post going here concerning Jen's question on keeping things fresh, but then I thought.....hmmm....wonder if Katherine's family (kids) look at her blog......then I thought (not that it was ANYTHING explicit) I probably shouldn't leave that in the comments....

Jen, come to my blog, and email me...then I will let you know what I was going to say.

I will email it to you Katherine and will leave it up to you on whether or not you want it on your site.


Aimee said...

Semi regular date nights for FUN are a must. We have 4 young children and we can become co-laborers and gripe or resent each other over little things...having a date night even just once a month is a lifesaver. We don't talk about the kids... just fun stuff like playing putt-putt, bowling, a movie, just coffee, browsing a bookstore, strolling by water. Also we realize we MUST getaway for a weekend once or twice a year...makes a huge difference in the romance category.
We also try to play games together sometimes during the week to wind down instead of TV...we laugh and talk and eat cookies while playing cards, Settlers of Catan, Scrabble, etc.
I disagree with the sex being a need, but that's for another time :)

Etta said...

Oh how I can identify with the desire for "newness" in a relationship. You look back on those dating years (or in my case, months) and the engagement (again, months) and remember how fascinating it was to be in love with that...stranger. For that's what he was, a mystery to be unraveled. But then after 8 years, there's not much mystery left. You know where he's going to put his underwear in the morning (NOT in the hamper), and you know he's most likely NOT going to surprise you with a gift when he comes home.

My advice: TELL HIM HOW YOU ARE FEELING. In the most loving way possible. Make sure he knows it's not really about him. He won't understand, it will make NO sense to him at all. But he'll know. He'll know what you need. Of course, then, when he DOES pick up his dirty clothes and he DOES bring flowers home, you will know it is contrived. But so what? So you TOLD him you wanted flowers. The point is, he did it. He did it because it is something YOU desire and he wants to please you, to make you happy. We all want them to do it without being asked, but let's face it. Most of the time, they don't work that way. My husband does think that way occasionally, but the rest of the time, I have to drop hints. But at least he doesn't say, "Forget you. You can't tell me what to do!"

Most of the time, they want to make us happy. They just don't always know how. :)

Brenda said...

I just read this post and the 2 that followed it and I just wanted to say "Thank you!" I need to hear this kind of encouragement/reminder about a very important part of marriage. Guess I'll log off and go to bed now. :)