August 17, 2015
His hands wrapped around my thick hotel robe as I peered out, desperately trying to spot the spray of an Orca whale from our small deck. “Is it time for another buffet yet?” he laughed.
We had boarded the Alaskan cruise vessel to celebrate our 20th anniversary 4 days earlier, fairly disconnected and frazzled. We even got in an argument trying to find the cruise parking lot. Both of us are in the middle of crazy in our day to day lives. His looks like patients with never ending needs and real problems that need serious time and attention. Mine looks like a book launch on the horizon and too many details of a busy, full throttle family of six.
It doesn’t much matter what the demands are, really. We all have them – things fighting and screaming for our attention, both legitimate ones, and ones not so important. And each day, we give our time away to something.
But what I find is that we often give too much, too often, to everything except our marriage.
And it shows as couples desperately struggle through divorce, neglect, and deep loneliness.
For some, the end of their marriage is out of their control, but sometimes we write our own tragic love story by letting the daily demands stomp out any time or space for love to grow.
The lack of attention is killing our primary relationship – the one that our entire family depends on.
For many, it’s simply small, daily decisions to choose other than that creates the void. And the longer we continue with this way of living, the bigger the chasm grows.
No longer can we reach out to grab the hand of our spouse to pull us back. The gap is too wide. And so we often turn and go our own way, sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally.
And we don’t even realize that creating our own fairytale is one decision away.
Intimacy doesn’t just happen. It takes the grit that says, I’m pressing in, even when I want to press out. And we push everything else aside and do whatever it takes to get us back to where we want to be – counseling, time away, date nights, paring down our schedule, etc.
When Erik and I thought about how to celebrate our milestone anniversary, we knew that it didn’t matter much what we did, but that we needed a cargo load of TIME. So we chose an option that would allow for just that – no food prep, no planning, no navigating, and NO PHONES OR WIFI.
Did you catch that? No cell service and no internet. It’s hard for me to describe just how important this part was to our coming back together. We (and I mean you and I) do not even realize how much all of this media competes for out time. We’ve grown so numb to it – to checking our devices all day long – that we don’t even know how much it alters how present or absent we are in our family.
And so we sat, and talked and talked, and I cried about things that are deep within me, and we laughed harder than we have in, well… I don’t remember. And we shared morning devotionals, and hiked until we thought our legs might fall off, and pounded the dance floor to music of the 80’s. And yes, we argued as well, because that’s a necessary part when you actually talk about things that matter. And at the end of all of that being, our hearts came back together, completely aligned, and beating the same, unified, wiser and better.
20 years in, we are standing strong, still writing our fairytale.
But it didn’t just happen, and it doesn’t just happen for any of us. To design our own love story that lasts a lifetime, we must clear the clutter in our lives and no matter what, regardless of what calls out for our attention, create room and space for love to be nurtured. We must bridge the gap that threatens to separate and divide.
Our marriages are not static. We are either growing together or growing apart. Feelings fade. Years pass. It’s up to us.
So what’s the one decision that will make marriage last?
It’s realizing that we must author our own love story.
Let’s resolve together to do what it takes. To invest in the place that matters most. Because neglect outside the home will never make up for failure inside the home.
Schedule the night out. Better yet, schedule the vacation away. Quiet the media. Make room. Your relationship can’t wait.