Remember your vows? Like the ones where you said all of the things about how much you loved each other? About how you would be there through thick and thin? The betters and the worse? All the sick and all the health?
Remember when you gushed over how you would love and honour and respect and cherish and basically be a drooling mess over each other for like, a bazillion years?
And remember when you were writing those vows and speaking those vows and you believed with all of your beautifully delusional heart that this was true?
Yeah, me too.
And then, like, 6 hours later I got really sick and I’m pretty sure my husband was thinking that running to the pharmacy to grab ALL OF THE MEDICATIONS was not exactly the wedding night he had planned. While I’ve never actually asked what he was thinking in those moments I can surmise that it was more along the lines of, “Are you kidding me?” than, “Don’t worry baby, I cherish your dripping nosed, disgusting cough and phlegmy self.”
Cause, we kind of forget the promises that we made every now and then, don’t we?
I mean, perhaps I’m the only one who forgot them 3, 648 times between year 1 and 7 alone?!
Because while I SAID in sickness and health, what I really meant was in health and I’m probably going to be kind of mad at you when you’re being a sick baby.
And while I really did mean for better or worse when I said it, I just didn’t really understand the gravity of how much worse it was going to get.
By year 4 we sort of forgot about the cherishing and all of that pushing-the-hair-back-out-of-your-face-before-I kiss-you swoony stuff because there were babies. And we were tired. Come year 5 we were practically tripping over the babies that were everywhere and the honour and the respect got shelved and the words, “Isn’t it YOUR turn!” became the modus operandi, and even if it wasn’t said out loud it’s what both of us were thinking in our black and sin stained hearts.
By year 7 we were a mess. I know. Classic.
It’s not that all of the vows were completely forgotten and more that we didn’t
know realize care to put in the time that it took to make each other believe we remembered them. We got selfish. We got frustrated. We could hardly believe that this was what we’d become.
It took some time to see but we did. (Thank the Lord!) We finally came out of the fog and we realized that this wasn’t what we signed up for. This isn’t what we said we would be. This isn’t the picture that came to mind when we remembered our gussied up selves standing at the front of the church with eyes looking deep into each other and longing for that proclamation of man and wife and that kiss.
As we started the process of repairing the damage that had ensued over time, (with all of the therapy and techniques we could find!) one thing we realized was that we weren’t quick to trust each others words. We learned that though we were saying things that were meant to be taken well, the other wasn’t hearing them that way.
We quickly came to the realization that quickly was not a word to be used when fixing years of damage in a marriage.
We were a mess. We were trying and failing. We were talking but misunderstanding. We were reading into words and actions. We were each bringing our brokenness to the table and the slap happy patch job was not holding us together.
It was in the midst of this season that we discovered 2 sentences that forever changed our marriage.
Think I’m being dramatic? I’m not. These 7 words, literally, changed everything about the way we operated, the way we communicated and the way we reacted to what the other was saying or doing.
This was now our mode of operation. The way we saw everything. It still is.
First of all, we decided that we loved each other and we agreed that we loved each other (two different things, people!) and we acknowledged to each other that we understood the love that each of us had for the other. This wasn’t us just saying, “I love you,” but recognizing it from the others perspective.
So our first sentence was, You Love Me.
Next, we grasped that because of the love that we had and recognized in each other we truly wanted good for each other. We never meant harm in the way we spoke to each other even though sometimes it came out that way and we never intended our actions to be purposefully hurtful even though sometimes that happened too.
So our second sentence was, You Want My Good.
You Love Me. You Want My Good.
Marriage. Game. Changer.
Because when your spouse says something that you interpret as harsh or condemning you simply remind yourself that they couldn’t possibly mean it that way because they love you and they want your good.
And when you feel frustrated by your spouses actions or they seem to belittle you in some way, you just remember that it can’t possibly be what it seems because they love you and they want your good.
(Of course, this only works if they really do love you and really do want your good. Which we did!)
And sometimes we are frustrated and we do sound harsh and we get whiny and nit-picky but we can be quick to realign ourselves because we want our spouse, the most important person in the world to us, to know that we love them and we want their good.
We have a million faults and our spouses do too. But when we look through a positive lens, when we trust that their love and intentions are only good, we can see their beauty much more than their ick. It’s what I want my husband to know from me. That I love him endlessly and I only want his good, even when I mess it all up.