this one's fresh off the midden heap that is our marriage issues. so fresh, in fact, that we are still in the middle of the fight as i type.
for the past few months, marriage has been great. seriously healthy and awesome. i tried to think of why this is (aside from a perfect child and pharmaceuticals) and what strategies we've been employing that are paying off. when i was brainstorming this, i came across the most important truths i have stumbled upon on this cracked out adventure of two becoming one and realized that my recent wifely success can be chalked up to actually living these out.
1. having healthy/godly marriage and family RIGHT NOW is ALWAYS more important than winning any fight. also known as, "hey, i actually like my husband."
this took me FOREVER to wrap my head around. example: i would be so looking forward to a date night with jesse. then he would get home an hour late. when he got there i would just tear into him about not keeping his word and failure to communicate. he would fight back that he has fluid responsibilities at work and doesn't always work a hard and fast 9-5 schedule. back and forth we would go and usually this one issue would snowball into huge generalized arguments about his crappy communication skills and my inflexibility. after about 2 hours of verbal freeze outs, nuclear screams and hammering him he would finally relent and say, whatever, you're right; i could have done that better. victory was be mine! except we now had no time to go out and wouldn't want to anyway because we resented each other so much still for the wounds just inflicted. this scenario played out MANY times before i started asking myself, "what is it that i really want?" and the answer was shockingly not, "i want him to admit what a loser he is and how much he fell short and beg my blessed forgiveness." instead it was, "i want to spend time with my husband, whom i love a ton, am lucky to have and actually LIKE more than anyone on the planet."
huh, well, that's interesting. maybe i should just zip it about him being late and enjoy the time we can spend together rather than taking whatever's left of it and spending it emotionally pummelling each other and then still coming out the other end completely unsatisfied. i was missing a crucial step between "i can't wait to spend time with my awesome husband" and "what a stupid loser he is for messing this date up, i hate him!" that missing step is called truth and sanity. that missing step was acknowledging what i was actually feeling before it just metamorphosed into a reaction of anger. it was, "i am bummed out that i get one less hour with my best friend." that's it! but there's some sort of pride thing that goes on there that says that i can't show the vulnerability it takes to admit i actually want to spend time with my husband, but that expressing it as anger AT him for messing things up is okay. wtf, satan?
let's BOTH be miserable!
so lately i have been trying to catch it before, or shortly after, the anger comes out and just say, "you know what, i'm sorry, all i really want is to get to spend time with you and i was a little disappointed that it turned out to be less time that i had expected to get to bask in the wonder that is you." for about .02 seconds my pride hurts and then lickety split it's amazing and we're laughing and hugging and just schmooping all over the place. i think that .02 second (sometimes longer) moment of transition is truly the identity of christ becoming more predominant in my heart. it really is john 15:13-laying down my life (pride) for my friend (husband=best).
it SUCKS ASS and does not feel good (probs like the crucifixion did for jesus) to lay down my right to exact a penalty from at first, and in that initial moment of submission moment where my pride has his little death chortle. but then that moment is over and it's just the most amazing return on an investment (probs like the resurrection was for jesus) and is totally worth it when i have submitted to my husband, honored him, complemented him, forgiven him (b/c sometimes he really has messed up) and affirmed him. everybody's a winner. 'cept you, devil. please fuck off with a quickness because you have no authority up in here.
2. jesse is the ONLY human on the planet who chose me for eternity knowing what he was getting into. also known as, "i cannot believe he signed up for this!"
hopefully in my life the 3 peoples that will love me the most will be my parents, my kids and my husband. only one of these will have actually selected me to love. my parents love me unconditionally no matter what i do (unless i get a face tattoo). yes, they chose to have me, but they had no idea the little clusterfreak of issues that would come along with that baby. they didn't get to custom design me or cull through a list of applicants, "oh, look lee, this one has potty mouth, impulsivity AND rage...can we keep her, pleeeeease, can we?"
it's a girl!
by the same token, judah and all our subsequent kids had no choice in being born to us as their parents. good or bad, we're the only mom and dad they'll ever have.
when i used to flip out about something my folks would do and drop the dreaded, "you're the worst parents EVER! i wish that _________ (insert friend's parents' names/"anyone"/"brangelina," here) were my mom and dad instead of you!" my mom would always say, "well you didn't get to pick us, but we didn't get to pick you either." touche. so parents and kids are stuck with each other. luckily the bonds of this relationship usually bring out the love. but even these arrangements aren't meant to last a lifetime. at some point the parent/child relationship morphs into one more like peers.
thinking of my mom's famous quote, i wondered a few years back, "well crap, i wonder if anyone has actually picked me on the front end when they knew what they were getting in advance." and i realized the only person in my life who has done that on an eternal scale are jesse and jesus (who doesn't make cuts anyway). jesse got to "test drive" me(not like that, we waited until our wedding) before he ever decided to sign on the dotted line and park me in his driveway of life. wow, that's kind of an honor. he knew me and chose me. granted, i was able to hide large chunks of the crazy until it was too late to send me back, but still, he knew. and he jumped in with both feet nevertheless.
the crazy outs itself
i feel like it's a huge epidemic in america to deify your children. long before their divorce, i used to positively cringe to hear kate gosselin say, "i live for my kids." um, well you're not really supposed to i don't think. cause they don't live for you and you're only intended to have them for about 20 years so that then they can go out and make someone else their #1. i have seen and heard about lots of marriages crumbling once all the kids go off to adulthood and people say, "how did they stay married 25 years?" ooh, i know! it's because they were married to their kids and devoted to and fueled by them above everything else, even to the neglect of the relationship that should only be second to the one we have with god of the universe and then the kids flew the coop and left the husband and wife looking at each other going, "oh right. you. i forgot about you while i was busy being sustained by my parental role. crap, this is all i have left now?"
oopsie! so i have been drilling it into my brain that when it's all said and done and mommy's perfect little cherubs have grown up, jesse is the one who will still be here for me and i definitely don't want that to be an "oh, shit." moment. hear me now: i will NOT put my kids above my marriage. okay, even though i am writing this post, i still feel a little guilty about saying that out loud in this culture. but it's not mean, or bad parenting or abuse. the worst thing i could do for judah would be to teach him that marriage, which is supposed to be the earthly embodiment of our relationship with jesus, is something that he is more important than. by doing that i am downplaying his own bond with his savior, inflating his sense of importance in an illegitimate way, and dooming him to similar marriage patterns in his own life. mommy of the year!
so even though its WAY easier to love judah than jesse on some days, i have to keep in mind who is going to be standing with me at the end of the road. judah is my son and i love him insanely mucho, but i refuse to put his happiness, or more likely, my self-worth at being an all star mommikins above the hard work of keeping my marriage healthy. jesse picked me over 3 billion other chicks, after all, so i kind of owe it to him.
now that i have tooted my own horn and proclaimed my prolific wisdom throughout the lands let me tell you about the dunghill i am sitting in right now. i get really excited whenever i do something i feel proud of: a good meal, a clever blog post, a crafty endeavor, being jesus when i really don't feel like it, etc. so i don't know if it's the vagina in me or some remnant of humanity's broken relationship with their creator, but i just crave someone else to tell me, "whoopdie doo! great job, keight." and no one's whoopdie is more important to me that jesse's.
maybe this is bullet point #3 in my marriage handbook: "thou shalt not seek your identity or self-worth from thy husbo." but it's hard. i love him, i like him more than anyone else and he's sort of my hero. so his opinions matter. that said, when we're ripping on each other jokingly or even fighting angrily and unfairly, his opinions don't matter and can't hurt me (see #1 above). i already have my armor on (you know, cause love always feels like a battlefield) and my shield of angry self-righteousness. i expect him to come at me and i don't take it to heart.
however, when i vulnerably come to him with something seeking approval, he has so very much power to make me feel like the greatest treasure or the tiniest paramecium. it suxx. i want him to be honest in the emotionally uncharged moments, but if his opinion, reaction or advice is less than glowing, much less critical, i am crushed. i want so badly to impress my best friend. i want him to be reminded every so often that he did make a good choice and that i can do things that wow him even after knowing each other so well and so long.
so it really hurt my feelings yesterday when i called him up wanting his take on my blog post. for some reason i was really proud of it; if i had been reader, it would have been right up my alley humor-wise and i so yearned to hear him dropping mad LOL's all over the place. instead he was critical about it. he said that yeah, it was funny (in a sort of "yeah, yeah," perfunctory manner) but it was exorbitant and came across as me trying too hard. ouchsters. that is the very very last thing i ever want to seem: trying to be anything other than 100% authentic and exactlywhat you would get from me in real life.
these things are his opinions. and they aren't hateful or rude in any way on their own. if he said those same words about one of our friends, i wouldn't accuse him of crossing any lines or slander. it's just relative: because he has access to the very deepest parts of my heart and, maybe wrongly, my security, he has amazing power to just crush me without trying to at all. so i am all poopy and insecure today because my husband didn't do back flips over every word i wrote. i know i should get my worth and identity from god, but i also chose to give that power and intimacy to jesse. so what happens when it doesn't come back the way i am hoping for?