You may think I am disheartened to be around you.
That it’s hard for me to see you together and happy. That my divorce has somehow marked me apathetic to your marriage.
Let me assure you it has not.
We are all in this together. If I’ve learned anything this past month of political upheavals and civil unrest is that if we can’t strengthen and unify, then we will crumble together. If we can depend on each other and learn from each other, we have a chance to rebuild and move forward. It all starts with your family and your community.
I am in the unique situation that because of my past experiences I can try to help carry the burden of yours.
I see you. I see how you two interact and communicate. I hear your tones and watch your body language, and I am not judging. Simply observing. And what I’ve found—by watching my family, friends, fellow church-goers and complete strangers—is that what I see, you don’t always notice.
Sometimes all you need is a different perspective to see things more clearly.
- I think you’re on a date, but your phone use says differently.
- I like seeing your sweet adoring PDA—it’s adorable, and we don’t see enough of it in this world. Hold his hand. Kiss her cheek. Openly embrace whenever you can. Don’t step away.
- I see you trying to clean his puke-stained tie with a baby wipe, then work your way to his shoulder then his chin and before you know it: he’s been thoroughly wiped down without batting an eye. #groomingrituals
- You still try to flirt with her but she doesn’t always catch on—you give up the second time around, but if you held on for a third attempt I know she would’ve flirted back.
- When he starts rolling up his sleeves, you know he is focusing in on the mess at hand— she doesn’t bother with long sleeves anymore.
- As he exits the mini-van, his swagger starts to return after his fifth step. Her swagger returns when she is wearing new shoes.
- You text him to bring home milk. He brings home milk… and ice cream.
- You’re out with the girls and told him not to bother you. You still check your phone every 5 minutes to see if he’s texted.
- I tell you your wife is beautiful and you agree.
- I tell you your husband is a dork and you agree.
- Your tone is softer when she is looking at you while you speak with her. It quickens when she looks away.
- I love seeing you reach out for her hand and her instinctively taking hold: your kids are running ahead, and your other hands are full with the diaper bag, Mr. Blankie and sippy cups—but he reached out, and you held on for dear life.
- You’re starting to look alike: you’re both exhausted, but you seem to pull off the frazzled look effortlessly.
- Keeping score does not equate to an equal partnership.
- The look when one of you discovers that the other has been hiding candy this whole time. . .
- He is trying harder than you think he is.
- She is more anxious than you’ll ever understand.
- You’ve embraced her wrinkles: it helps you determine her moods better.
- Even with the cane, glasses, and wobbly steps you’re both walking the same rhythm. You never step ahead of her, and she never leaves you behind.
I’ve only seen glimpses into your world, tidbits here and there that do not fully define your relationship. How I interpret the small details that I do see isn’t really the point though.
The point is what do you see? More specifically: what don’t you see?
When you humble yourself and let the Gospel shine through your home you’ll be more able to notice the cracks in the foundation, the shadows in the corners, and the work needed to strengthen and unify your marriage. It’s an on-going process that will never be finished, but each season brings with it its own rewards.
What I had thought my marriage was and what it came to be were day and night. Many people were shocked by the divorce, but some were not. They too had seen the small details, the exhaustive sighs, and the passive indifferences.
Don’t let this jaded, bitter world tell you how your marriage should be, and don’t fall into the trap of failure for not exacting someone else’s “perfect marriage.” What I’ve learned is that the world treats marriage as a social experiment that is continuously tested until it fails. However, the Gospel teaches that marriage is a unified partnership continuously tested that can succeed gloriously with God at the center.