Pushing the reset button is a nightly occurrence at our house, and this is the part where I have to make a confession: lately, we’ve been eating our evening meal in the living room while watching reruns of Alias. (I know, I know; we should eat at the table and talk about our day, reconnect—practice what you preach, Susan.) I’m just gonna’ blame Jennifer Garner and all those fantastic outfits and ever changing hair colors.
Here’s where the reset comes into the picture: we use Amazon Firestick to watch TV and inevitably it stops working right at the part where Sydney Bristow is about to get captured by the bad guy. It’s maddening.
Roger has to get up, turn the TV around and do whatever it is he does to that little Firestick to reset it.
The only way we can continue to watch “our show,” is to reset the connection and my husband is the only one who knows how to reset it. (Note to self: have him write down the process in case it happens when he’s not here. Never mind: if he’s not here, I’ll just turn off the TV and read a book.)
It’s the running joke at our house… if anything ever happens to Roger, I’d have to sell the TV because I’m pretty much clueless to how he has it all set up.
We celebrated our 47th anniversary yesterday. Well, no… that’s not exactly true. The truth is, we forgot that it was our anniversary until Facebook reminded us. The actual celebration begins this Sunday when we head over to a cute little Airbnb cabin that we rented on the banks of the Neuse River, near where my Mom grew up on the coast of eastern North Carolina.
Among those Facebook memories was one I posted three years ago in 2016. The last line of that post mentioned that I was looking forward to what the future held for us as a couple.
I was soon to find out.
Our fall schedule was crammed with ministry trips—a women’s retreat in the mountains, four days speaking in Virginia and a long-awaited speaking engagement in Ohio. Roger would be providing music at most of these events. Little did we know on August 6th that the most exciting trip we’d take that fall was to the Emergency Room on September 30, a trip that would turn out to be not only life-saving for my husband, Roger, but life-changing for us.
A pulmonary embolism was not what we were expecting in the fall of 2016.
Marriage is like that—full of things you don’t expect and frequently lacking in the things you expect the most.
Last night my daughter texted me, wanting to know how many years we’d been married and then asking how many of those years were marital bliss.
“Bliss is a myth,” I answered.
I know, I know; that sounds really pessimistic, doesn’t it?
Hey, I’m not down on marriage; I’m just a realist. Only heaven will be bliss. Her next question was even more interesting:
“Would you consider yourself an expert on marriage?”
She was surprised when I said no.
“Really?” she asked. “After all you’ve been through together?”
All we’ve been through… I thought about that all night, because just like you, we’ve been through a lot in 47 years of marriage: raising a family, moving across country, ups and downs of jobs and ministry, financial challenges, disappointments as well as dreams come true. The marriage vows are spot on, but we get blinded by the bliss thing.
Expert? No, I’m not an expert. There’s always more to learn and one thing I’ve learned is that unrealistic expectations will take out your marriage quicker than you can squeeze the toothpaste the wrong way.
There’s been bliss, sure, but also plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, many of them self-inflicted due to those unrealistic expectations.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I got married at 19 (19!) but I know I didn’t expect it to be so challenging. One expectation was certain, though… divorce was not in the equation.
When my husband proposed, he was adamant that if we got married it would be for life and I agreed. By the grace of God and sheer stubbornness we’ve managed to remain together.
(Stubbornness will wreck a marriage unless you’re stubborn about the right things.)
Expect your marriage to be opposed; the enemy despises a united front and he will do everything in his power to divide you, including using the myth of daily bliss to make you disappointed in your marriage.
I mean, really… I’m certainly not blissful to be around 24/7, so why should I expect my marriage to be blissful 100% of the time?
The movies portray marriage like one big romance, a la Titanic or When Harry Met Sally. In reality, it’s more Raider’s of the Lost Ark… romance, adventure, drama and humor. The humor helps!
On a hunch, I looked up the etymology of the word ‘anniversary.’ It comes from a root word meaning, “to turn, bend.”
I just knew it would be something like that.
So, yes, we’re celebrating our anniversary this week. 47 years of turning to God for help, patience, strength, unconditional love.
Turning to face each other when we wanted to turn our backs.
Bending to avoid breaking, bending to serve when we’d rather be served, bending our wills to benefit the other’s.
I was taking my daily walk around our apartment complex in Tampa, FL when I heard a loud, angry hiss that stopped me in my tracks. There in front of me was a face-off the likes of which I’d only seen in a John Wayne movie: a huge tomcat had tried to play nasty with a ferocious snapping turtle who was not in the mood to play. I watched, incredulous, as the hissing turtle (turtles hiss?) stood upright on his hind legs, (turtles can stand up?) and lunged forward, totally intimidating that tom cat who had completely misjudged its prey. The cat was assertive. The turtle was aggressive.
I found myself cheering for the turtle.
When I came home and told the story to my husband, I mentioned that I wished I could be more like that turtle; now it was his turn to be incredulous. “You ARE that turtle!” he said.
I’d worked hard to be more assertive… maybe too hard. Had the assertiveness I’d pursued unintentionally turned into aggression? Determined to live my life in a more balanced manner, I began to study the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. I read, took notes, wrote in my journal and even now, years later, I look over those notes every so often to see how I’m doing.
OOPS, is my most frequent comment, but occasionally, I see some progress.
I’ve come to see that assertiveness is a response while aggressiveness tends to be more a reaction.
Recently I’ve been thinking about hospitality and how few people seem to actually practice it. Excuses abound and I’ve been guilty of some of them myself. I’ve wondered if maybe the perfectionist culture of magazines like Martha Stewart Living had something to do with it.
What if the roast burns or the souffle falls? What if our dining room doesn’t look like this? (What if we don’t have a dining room?!)
Letting others see our humanness can be pretty daunting.
Then I thought about Pinterest and all my recipe boards. Maybe pinning 500 recipes is missing the point; the point is actually pinning down a date to have people over!
Don’t get me wrong; there’s certainly nothing wrong with setting a gorgeous table or whipping up a gourmet feast if that’s something you’re good at. I did a pretty good Martha Stewart imitation myself back in the day.
But I’ve learned something over the years:Read more