If I could go back in time twelve years and give myself advice as I prepare to marry my husband, I would give myself this advice:
- Never say divorce that first time.
When my husband and I encountered our first few losses and became emotionally distant from one another, divorce rolled off my twenty-year-old tongue all too easily. My husband was not physically or emotionally harming me, things were just difficult. Finances, jobs, miscarriage, and going to graduate school/working full-time became a lot to juggle and balance. Once the word divorce rolls off your tongue, it can become all too easy to threaten and that emotional wall begins to grow.
- Try harder when you feel disconnected.
When I feel disconnected from someone, I naturally stand down. I retreat. I think it is only natural, however; it is in these times where we can work harder to reach out to our spouse. Show love and affection. Send that “I love you” text while they are at work. Greet them at the door with a hug and kiss. Sometimes that extra ounce of effort can make all the difference in rebuilding your connection.
- Do not put God last, always put Him first.
When my husband and I faced some very dark times in our life (together and apart), it was so much easier to pull back from the things of God. We stopped serving, stopped tithing, and began focusing on the wrong things. We kept sinking and felt as if our lives were falling apart in every sense. It was not until we got back on track and tried putting God first that our problems did not seem so monumental.
- Do not hide your hurts from the people that love you most.
When our first child entered the world, we entered one of the darkest periods of our life. Not because he was born, but because years of poor financial decisions had come to light and moving forward felt hopeless. There was a time when we feared the sight of utility trucks and began hiding from the world (because finances were that bad). We did not tell the people we loved most because we were mortified that those past decisions had caught up with us. Do not hide your hurts from the people you love most – it makes life even more terrifying and lonely. While you do not have to share every detail, you also do not want to shut everyone out. It can be so lonely.
- The journey will most definitely be worth it.
I am so glad that we did not throw the towel in at years two and three of marriage when we felt like our relationship was drowning. We have walked quite the journey together, but now we are doing it hand-in-hand. We now have a four-year-old, two-year-old, and a third child due next month. We have been through different career endeavors, graduate school/paramedic school, and now the journey of parenthood. We have seen much loss, but we have also seen so much joy and adventure.
Life is nothing like we imagined it would be the day we said “I do” – it is so much better. Today we laugh and cry together. We share our hearts. We pray together. We can be our truest selves, which is so much better than always faking who we are and what we are feeling.
Do not give up or throw the towel in when you face that first difficult period – it is an opportunity to cling to Jesus and let Him lead the way.