Recently my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary… I know.. don’t make me stop and really take that in.. I dont know that I can.. Where.. what.. how??? Anyway, we did.. On that day I posted what I thought was a simple post on Face Book.. Something I do often. It went something like:
I recently heard a comedian quip, when asked the age old question, “How do you achieve a lasting marriage?” Without hesitation he said, “don’t get divorced.” It made me laugh, not that is was particularly funny, but that it was (and is)… oh so true. I suspect that if someone would have told either of us how hard it was going to be, we would have still, jumped in with both feet. Today Tom and I celebrate a hard fought 30 years of marriage, with a million opportunities to bail, yet at every opportunity God revealed to ME things that I needed to do, to change the situation. I recall Pastor David E. Bruce telling us that a good marriage required three – You, me and God….. boy, what truth. Marriage isn’t just about love, although it makes for a good glue…. It is also about being willing to learn, grow, change, and submit to a refining process…it’s about finding in your partner, a friend, and finding a thankfulness for the family you have created together. While it may take me another 30 to be the wife Tom deserves, I’m forever grateful that he understands we are on a journey and as long as we are together, getting there is inevitable.. Thank you Thomas C. Groom for being willing to grow with me. I love you. Happy 30th Anniversary – (and Happy Birthday).
I was stunned by the amount of emails I received from young marrieds that we know. Both men and women; Husbands trying to figure it all out and wives, in some cases barely hanging on…. My heart broke. I recall the struggles. Their emails sent me back to my trunk where I have years and years of memories crammed….. “What would I say, to this young couple that was us, I wondered?”
I have thought, at every stage of my life as a wife and mom, “why didn’t someone tell me?” For example; few talk about the heartaches of marriage.. we blather on about the joys… but, all moments aren’t joyful. Relationships are hard… and married ones aren’t any easier. There are moments… sometimes long, drawn out, periods of time where it just seems to be more than we can endure. But, we don’t talk about those to much. Why is that? we all have them. It is rare to find a couple who can truthfully admit that it has been 30 or more years of bliss.
I think it is Billy Crystal who said, at his 30th wedding anniversary, “We have had 15 great years, 10 years that were doable, and 5 where we were just hanging on.” We all laugh, but there is truth in the laughter.. tears in the recollection and reflection in all of it.
I recently got into a debate about social media and how some feel it is evil and makes it so that we as a community don’t live life together……. Maybe… But, I think more along the lines that if we as people choose to live our lives out loud as an open book.. we are doing that no matter what the medium. I don’t think we were any “better off” in the 50’s and 60’s when there wasn’t social media to hide behind.
I feel the need to apologize to the younger generation for falling into that “thing” where as an elder, I have left the impression that life, parenting, friendships, marriage, faith, etc is “easy.” IT IS NOT. The battles you are struggling with are universal.
YOU WILL NOT LIKE YOUR SPOUSE ALL THE TIME. And here is the good news.. If you are a woman of faith, you might find comfort in the fact that we aren’t called too. We, are however; called to respect him. Which in some cases is an even harder calling, yet we wouldn’t be called to it.. if it couldn’t be done. There is ALWAYS something you can find in your man to respect. If YOU can’t see it, it is YOU that needs to realign. To the young men who have contact me.. let me just say; You are to Love… and wow… hard, too, right? But, here is the deal; Love is a choice. And it isn’t as hard as it seems. You knew what to do to get her, so you know what to do to keep her. If there are things, addiction, or whatever preventing you from doing so… fix it.
So much time is put into the “DAY” that we forget that there is an ever after… after.
There have been times when I wanted to run.. believe me.. It was the only way I could see to stop the pain of the refining process. But, here is what I know. ( and I know, there are some cases that this doesn’t apply for, but for me, it is truth), When you feel so much pain that it is literally taking your breath away…. STOP RUNNING AGAINST THE TIDE. Literally, I ask you, STOP… take 10 deep breathes. Be still…. and ask God what direction you should be going… and he will show you. IF YOUR LIFE, YOUR THOUGHTS AND YOUR PAIN ARE SO LOUD THAT YOU CANNOT HEAR ANYTHING…. FIND AN ELDER… AND DO WHAT THEY SAY TO DO…. 😉 UNTIL YOU CAN THINK AGAIN.
Men, one last thing.. Don’t forget to date your wives. Once a month arrange for the kiddos to go somewhere, and date your wife.. I can hear it now.. as I heard it in several of the conversations I have had this week.. “we just don’t have the $” I get that.. But, it doesn’t cost to lay a quilt out on the back lawn, or go park at the overlook, or plan ahead with a movie on the sofa while the kids are elsewhere.. But, here is what is KEY.. EXPECT NOTHING. This is a night for her…..
I don’t have all the answers.. I don’t even know how we got here, except to say we got through one day at a time. Be wiling to learn how to be each others’ best friend… I am convinced it will take you further than anything else will….. if you haven’t invited God into your marriage, you are missing out… For only HE can change the things that we think are unchangeable.
I was surprised by the emails… I was saddened, that I hadn’t been more transparent as how hard it can be. So this is an open invite to those who might be needing more of a community… to get them through.