Chris always says, “I just love, love.”
Love is beautiful to me and it’s amazing how anyone can love a person so much. When vows are shared and you say “I do,” love becomes a choice we consciously make each day.
I get it, you may not always get along, you won’t always see eye to eye on things. Marriage is not perfect because it takes work, HARD work, to make it work! It takes two people working hard to run a family and also continue to cultivate love outside of the kids.
CULTIVATE-what is that?
Let’s talk about this a moment:
Chris and I were in the car the other day; our conversations are pretty random at times but this one just kind of came out of nowhere.
Chris asked me, “Do you think we have a good marriage?” or something along those lines.
I didn’t answer right away, not because the answer was a “No,” and for inquiring minds, yes, we do have a good marriage, BUT, there is always work that needs to be done.
When you first like a person, you do everything in your power to try and impress. When you find out they feel the same way, you get butterflies in your stomach each time you think about the person. You pursue each other with so much passion. Your heart skips a beat each time they pull in to come and pick you up. You are head over heels in-love with them. I think, guys are just as excited as we are when we are in this stage. You start dating, you text, write love letters, email. Then you get engaged, you prepare for marriage, all the while cultivating this relationship by communicating more and continuing to learn about what makes your special someone tick. You get married and for the first few months or years, you enter in this thing called the honeymoon phase. The first years of marriage is a little rough because you are adjusting to each other but you continue to learn about each other.
Years come and go, then you find yourself in a car ride that may last for 30 mins or more sitting in utter silence. You don’t have anything interesting to say. You don’t find yourself talking or even asking how each of your days went. You just sit there, possibly next to each other while he drives and while you scroll your fingers through your phone. Or you go out to eat and you’re sitting in front of each other barely talking.
You have children, you even can’t explain that…but somehow, there was time to have children. You become pre-occupied with parenting. Parenting becomes a one-woman or one-man show at times because you two don’t sit long enough together and talk about how to parent your child. You have so much love to give your babies but both of you are lacking as a couple.
I think this is what leads to divorce. The kids grow up and graduate from high school and both of you lost each other in the years in between. Not that kids are to blame but the lack of cultivating your relationship stopped somewhere…
You stopped being friends, best of friends.
You stopped pursuing each other.
You stopped writing those love notes.
You stopped dating each other.
You stopped doing special things for each other, like going to a store and getting a small gift or a bouquet of flowers. Or simply picking up the phone to call and just say “I love you!”
You stopped asking each other about your day.
You stopped recognizing the good in the little things you do for each other.
The difference in love between you and your kids and love between you and your spouse is this:
You don’t choose to love your kids; you love them unconditionally. No matter what kind of bad thing they will ever get into and no matter what age they are, you love them no matter what!
You choose to love your spouse daily. You choose to love them in the good and the bad, in sickness and in health. You made a covenant to each other in front of people and in front of God on the day you said “I do.”
Sometimes, it gets too hard or too difficult. You give up, you stop being friends, you decide that you don’t love them anymore. Separation and divorce are an actual option. ALL because you stopped cultivating your relationship.
I get it, there are circumstances where you shouldn’t be together anymore.
BUT, circumstances aside:
You should be just as excited to see your spouse when they come home from work as you are excited about seeing a friend you have not seen in years. Like a seed planted in the ground, you have to water it in order for it to grow. A relationship is the same way, friendships and your marriage, especially, take a lot of work and a lot of watering.
You can’t give up, you have to see yourselves as a team and work at your marriage.
I wish we thought like this every day:
“I don’t want my kids to ever hurt like that. I don’t want them to think they have to choose between a parent. Or to hurt because their family is not together.”
“I want our kids to say they want to have a marriage like their Mom and Dad.”
“I want them to say that they want the love Mom and Dad have.”
I wish people didn’t treat marriage as if it was like a dating relationship, so casual…one with no strings completely attached even if they said “I do.” Some people seem to think that because they gave it a “go” and because it didn’t work, then it’s ok to just break up. The thought is not carefully examined at how it may affect them emotionally and the children that are involved.
Chris and I not only get to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Tuesday but we will celebrate 14 years of marriage next month. We are excited and blessed to be able to say that. Some young kids like us, can’t say that. God has done so much in our marriage; He has been so faithful! I can honestly say, it has been through His grace each day that we are where we are. Marriage is hard, having kids is hard, add ministry to that, it gets even harder. BUT, we do what it takes to keep this marriage and family in line…we keep God at the center, we pray together, we eat at the table together. We love hanging out with each other, sometimes a little too much! LOL! We all miss each other even if it’s just hours that we have been away from each other. We hug, kiss and dance in front of the kids. We tell each other “I love you” and ask each other about our day. We continue to learn about each other!
The day Chris and I stop cultivating will be the day we lose each other as best friends and team mates!
Happy Valentine’s Day!