This is the most personal blog I’ve ever written, but I felt strongly about posting it. I’m thankful for my good friend Jess for setting the example.
“Marriage is a crucible; it forces you to lay down your life for another a little bit at a time, which is good for those of us too cowardly to do it all at once.” ~ Andrew Peterson
Every morning when I drop Rhema off for school, we go through a routine of saying goodbye. I stoop. She squats in a corner. Her teacher stands her up, holds her still. I come close, try to get her to look my way and say with exaggeration, “Bye, Rhema. Bye.” Her teacher puts a hand at the side of Rhema’s eyes, “Rhema say Bye!”
Lately, she will give us a sweet “Iiiii. Iiiii.” And then sometimes we get, “Hhhhi. Hi. Hi.” Wonderful sounds to my ears. But this is not acceptable, because she needs to say Bye and we know she can do it. But for whatever reason, at 8:30 in the morning, Rhema can’t seem to find the “B” sound.
Sometimes we’ll be there for 10 to 15 min. Over and over we model the sound, we direct her gaze, we stand her slouching body, we offer reinforcers and encouragement, “C’mon buddy, you can do it. Say “Bye.”
We fight until finally the sound is there, sometimes whispered so faintly you might miss it. We hear “Buh” in front of “iii”, and we cheer and she bounces down the hall.
Every morning, every day, all her life I fight for the little and big things for Rhema. I pour my time, energy, heart and soul into helping her learn and grow.
Along the way I’ve realized there is an equally urgent, and dare I say, even more important fight: the one for my marriage, my husband. Recently I woke up to the fact that the demands (and joys) of motherhood, friendships and work and life had crowded out my purpose of loving my husband. Nothing dramatic or drastic – just a slow, chipping away from our foundation. The thing is I was too busy to notice. I had stopped fighting.
(And then my line of thinking: Oh. I need to fight for us. Oh. But I guess I’m off the hook. I don’t have to fight because he’s deployed a billion miles away… he’s not here. Phew. Huh? That means I have to fight for us all the more??? Oh God, how in the world do I do that? Please show me how.)
Some ways I’m making changes:
1. Praying each day for a greater love for him. Praying for him as much or more than I do my children.
2. Being intentional and creative about expressing affection (for e.g., cards, letters). Two dear friends of mine set up a cyber meeting place where only Brandon and I can go to connect, share concerns and triumphs, talk about just us. My friend, Shanda, had one of the most radical ways of re-connecting with her husband.
3. Going to him first – before or instead of going to friends.
4. Date nights (for us, for now, it’s over Skype).
The greatest gift I can give my children is to prioritize, honor and nourish my relationship with my husband. For us, I know, the key will be to put the Lord first.
Honestly, the end goal is to make him my highest priority. Easier said than done, but so worth it. My husband is good good, generous and strong. And by God’s grace he is committed to not just being here. But to watering, feeding, tending to our marriage as it grows. And I am re-dedicated to the same, come hell or high water. After eleven years of marriage, I can assure you that hell and high water have come and will come again. The Lord is faithful. Will Christ sustain us? Yes. But not only that. He’ll make it better than we could ever imagine.
Happy Anniversary, B.