My husband and I were clad in waterproof boots, hadn’t showered in two days, and were wrapping duct tape around the leaky hose that was carrying a few feet of water out of our basement. I laughed at the picture we presented and asked him if this counted as a date, since we were technically doing something together. We both started laughing over some of the things that you count as “dates” once you’ve been married for fifteen years, and we decided that we’d like our next “date” to be something a little more boring!
The Highs and Lows
Marriage is sometimes a crazy ride. We’ll enjoy the ride a lot more if we can learn to enjoy it together. Starting in Genesis when God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone,” (Gen 2:18a) we can see that we were not made to go through life without companionship. Ecclesiastes expands on this with, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” (Ecc 4:9-10a) While friends and family can fill some of this need for human companionship, marriage at its best gives us someone to walk through life with.
When the high points come, and it’s one of those days that you know you’ll cherish for the rest of your life, don’t just rely on your memory to keep it safe. Take photos or video, keep a journal, collect a box of mementos, or dedicate a sketchbook to the good memories. Pick something that will allow you to look back on the shared moments and will bring a smile to your face for years to come. Go through those memories together from time to time, recalling why they were so special to you.
As they say, what goes up must come down. Life isn’t always fun, and neither is marriage. Difficult times come, whether it’s a death in the family, financial hardships, serious illness or injury, or any of the hundreds of low points that we could possibly list. Maybe, it’s a situation where we can find something to laugh about, like in the case of my flooded basement. If there is humor to be found, then do make the effort to find it and laugh together. It’s amazing how much stress will be eased when you start laughing!
Yet, there are times where there is no humor to be found. Things like the loss of a job or a loved one are no laughing matter. In those situations, we have a choice. We can figure out a way to get through the struggle on our own, or we can figure out a way to get through it together.
Oftentimes, it would be easier in the moment to focus only on how we can cope with the situation individually rather than taking the time to work through coping as a team. We miss a valuable opportunity to grow together when we take that easier path in the tough times. It can be very hard to discover how best to help your spouse in a difficult situation, and just as hard to articulate to him how he can best help you. It’s no secret, though, that people who weather adversity together can form very close bonds. Make it a point to talk and to listen. Figure out how to face it together, and your relationship will come out stronger on the other side.
If we charted out the typical marriage, we might be surprised to find that most of our hours are not spent enjoying the good times or weathering the bad. Marriage is largely made up of the everyday, boring life stuff that must be done. Making dinner, paying bills, shoveling snow, folding the laundry, doing your taxes, and getting ready for work in the morning are the dull things that make up the bulk of our lives. Sometimes you do need to split up the work to make sure that everything gets done, but if you can work on any of these things together, then it’s worth the extra effort. Even if you’re just chatting and handing ingredients to your spouse while he cooks, you’re still spending time together. All of those bits of time are good for your relationship, and you may find that you come to enjoy some of the boring tasks when you do them together!
Even if you’re not doing the “work” of life together, you can still take advantage of the ordinary, simple moments. When your spouse decides to sit on the front steps to enjoy the summer evening, go sit next to him. Whatever you were about to do will probably wait. Take five minutes to look at the stars, do a crossword puzzle, or linger in the kitchen over coffee. Just do it together. As odd as this may sound, my husband and I treasure the everyday things that we do together the most of all.
Life can be quite a ride, and marriage can be too. But whether it’s the good, bad, or boring sort of day, be sure that you’re going through it together.