Allowing light into the dark places of your marriage

There was this spot in our old home (between the closet and bathroom doors) where I would go and sit and feel sorry for myself and sometimes-hate my husband.  It’s true.  We are in such a beautiful place right now where we have broken through so many barriers in our marriage, but not without the trials of the past and I’m quite certain-hardships of the future.

What took me to that spot against the wall, curled up in a ball in an upright or fetal position?  Most often-it was my inability to speak up for what I knew in my heart was right, certain, honest, and meaningful.  I wasn’t equipped with the ability to speak my mind with kindness, certainty, and grace. Instead, I’d huff and puff-with the occasional slammed door-but almost always excruciating silent treatment until neither of us could take it anymore.

What was I after?  It was quite simple, really.  I wanted respect, dignity, love, honor, protection, leadership.  Things I deserved.  Ironically, those were all the same things that Nathan wanted to provide me-but he just didn’t know how-at least not yet  We needed practice.  With practice comes messing up, making big mistakes, and in marriage that can mean hurting one another-sometimes to the point that hurt feels like death. Looking back-my biggest mistake was wanting Nathan to be my God-to fix everything.  I wanted him to carry the burden of things that were bigger and out of his control.

Through counseling, marriage classes, mentoring, prayer, and lots of hard work we’ve been able to do what I believe is the key to a good marriage.  We’ve been able to take those moments where the tension is thick enough to cut with a knife, where words are spoken out of anger, where someone just wants to escape from the room while the other uses words like daggers to hold someone captive-we’ve been able to take those moments and create space in between them so they happen less often and only for brief periods of time.

In the beginning of our marriage I’m afraid that most moments were splattered with frustration and pride.  As we matured and pursued God’s will for our lives we’ve been able to focus on what’s most important from day to day.  Over time and with practice we’ve filled the space that was once filled with harsh words, dark thoughts, and frustration with something better.  We have learned to lift one another up through kind words, to listen, to wait to speak, and to simply stay busy with those things that are good.  I write this as a reminder for myself and as a gracious acknowledgement to anyone out there who is suffering in dark moments in their own marriage.  With grace, mercy, kindness, patience, and hard work-it does get better.

When you wake up in the morning and know that light must be allowed into all the dark places-the dark places start to feel smaller and less significant.  You begin to go to God first and then to your husband with the reality that he is flesh-just like you-but with so many blessings ready to be shared.  I’m learning to accept those well and with thankfulness.