The funny thing about posting about marriage is that it’s not entirely fair. See, only one person in the marriage decided to write a blog that anyone can see, so when you look at the categories that I write about (on the right hand side of my blog), you’ll see there are far far fewer entries in the marriage category than the ones like faith and family. Unless you write very generically, or keep it totally about yourself, or just want to brag about your husband, you pretty much have to stay off of marriage issues.
It’s odd because, obviously, marriage is a huge part of my life. I’ve been with Bray for 8 years now and we’ve been married for 5 1/2 of those. We’ve had high times, low times, funny times, sad times, and all the in-between times that any married couple (save a Kardashian or two) has. During my long period of pondering I wrote about this week, a lot of what I thought about was marriage and its highs and lows. Generally and specifically. Globally and personally. So I am going to write a few posts about marriage with a few ground rules that I think are key if I’m ever going to write about marriage: (a) no secrets will be shared, (b) nothing disrespectful will be said, (c) some commentary will be from personal experience and some will be from what I’ve observed in other marriages but all of it will remain generic enough so no one has to share what they’d rather not.
I actually think this is the reason real issues about marriages aren’t discussed, particularly Christian ones. Sure there are lots of books about marriage. But many writers, men or women, have to gingerly step around the issue of saying I did this terrible thing and my spouse did this terrible thing for fear the ultimate outcome of the writing project will be to inflict more pain on a healing marriage. I’ve certainly not figured out a way around that issue, but I hope someone does because there’s much about Christian marriages that could be improved upon with some frank discussion.
In my experience, since the children have arrived (this is our third Christmas with the kids), the holiday season often is one of the hardest on our relationship. It’s the combination of multiple factors: Bray has to work many hours in his line of work during the holidays; I am stressed about getting everything decorated, food cooked, kids photos done for cards, shopping completed; Bray hunts and this is the heart of the season; lots of parties and family get-togethers mean more rushed schedules and often sick kids; and then, of course, just all the build up and then the ultimate let down after it’s all over. It is emotionally and physically exhausting, but much more so with children.
It’s sad though when you think about the three celebrations that mark the holiday season: Thanksgiving, when we stop to say thanks for all the blessings in our lives; Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour; and New Year’s, when we celebrate the year behind and new beginnings that lay ahead. If we kept all that in perspective, then maybe we could find a way to release some of the tension that inevitably builds up in the marriage over the course of six weeks.
Regardless, the key is how to fix whatever broke when January rolls around. I think one of the biggest struggles in marriages today is to allow the rush of modern life to sweep the small spills under the rug. After months or years of sweeping martial spills under the rug, the rug gets too small to contain the mess and everything erupts. What if, instead, at the end of each month (or each week depending on how ambitious you are), we sat down with our spouses and talked stuff out? Get the kids in bed, turn the television off, push the bill paying aside, and look at each other in the eye and say thank you for doing this or this thing you did hurt me or I think we could improve on communicating with each other or whatever it is that month. A month end “true up.” Literally. Give one another the freedom to be honest (especially the guys because they’re often concerned they’ll be living with hacked off wives if they say what they’re really feeling), but speak out of love and not out of anger or resentment.
Pretty lofty goal, huh? But I think it could save marriages far and wide if we’d all give it a shot.