I am so curious about what you are thinking right now. What do you consider the greatest love story? There are certainly some famous stories out there: Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and the Beast, Sense & Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice. (Jane Austen seems to have a monopoly on great love stories!)
As The Heart Whisperer, I certainly hear many love stories. Some of them are tragedies. Some of them are more like fairy tales, but most of them fall in a category somewhere in between.
What is normal in marriage?
I got married when I was 19 years old. My parents were divorced and my grandma was widowed before I was born. My other set of grandparents lived on separate floors of their home. I didn't have a clue what marriage was supposed to look like! I had never seen a marriage up close that was working. In my mind, I was hoping the fairy tale version of marriage was true because I certainly felt that I had found Mr. Right.
As I look back over 32 years of marriage, I would guess our marriage is normal. There are ups and downs. There are times when we are close and times when we are far apart. There are times I feel like I am the luckiest woman on earth and times when I don't know how we are going to solve our next problem. Maybe we are the odd ones - but we are two very different people trying to go down the same path and it isn't always easy. I would always stop and smell the flowers. Andrew would always stop and talk to strangers. I would always want to pack a picnic and take our time. Andrew would always want to stay on schedule, or preferably, get there early. Trying to decide which route we take to get to the destination can be the first problem we have to solve before we even pull out of the driveway!!! haha.
I also believe it takes two people to keep the marriage together but only one person to make the marriage fail. I understand that sometimes, divorce is the best option. It was the best choice for my parents. If it is the best choice for you, I support you.
How to get through the hard times
If there is anything I have learned after working with so many clients, it is that hard times will come - no matter how much you love each other. Challenges are a part of life that we can't seem to escape. I wanted to share 5 things that have helped us get through the hard times:
LEAN IN. When tough times come, lean into the marriage instead of pulling away. Do more service. Do more listening. Inventory yourself to see if there is something you need to change. Love more. Judge less. Be extra patient. This is going to take a very conscious effort. The natural man in us wants to pull away. We naturally want to get away from things that are painful. Stay present. Hold your ground and trust your heart to guide you through your challenge.
PRAY TOGETHER. On our wedding day, the officiator invited us to pray together every night before we got into bed. He suggested we alternate nights to say the prayer and whoever was speaking was encouraged to express genuine gratitude for one specific thing about the other person. It has been a powerful practice for us. The funny/not funny thing about our years of doing this is that somehow, every time we argue, it is my night to pray!!! It is uncanny how it happens. (Does Andrew save the difficult conversations for my nights?!) Sometimes there is a long pause before I speak while I try to think of something genuine and nice to say!!! :)
WEEKLY DATES. Think of this as your investment in your marriage. You put money away in a 401K to secure your financial future. Weekly dates are the investment you need to secure your future happiness. Many couples reach the point of being empty nesters only to realize how far they have drifted apart, when there are no more children in the house filling the gap. I have never been so grateful for our weekly dates (even in the hard times) as I am right now. We are empty-nesters, and we LOVE spending time together!! We are best friends. We have been dating through it all and now the reward is that we know and love each other.
BE COMMITTED. Andrew and I started out committed and have stayed committed. Instead of asking IF the marriage will work, we have asked HOW can we make this marriage work?
HAVE INTEGRITY. Be honest about yourself, your motives, your actions, and your accountability. The trouble may be one-sided, but more often, it takes two to tango. Own your stuff. Be accountable for your hurt, your pride, your weakness, your excuses. Own it all. The truth will set you free.
If marriage is going to be hard anyway, why bother working so hard at it? A wise mentor told me once - you can do marriage the easy/hard way, or the hard/easy way. The easy/hard method means you do whatever is easiest to satisfy the problem in the moment, but know that it is going to be harder in the long run. Or you do the hard/easy way, taking the time to do the hard thing now to truly solve the problem, knowing it will be easier in the long run. I can tell you this principle works! If you work hard now in your marriage, it is going to be easier in the long run.
Where is the fairy tale?
Don't forget that you are the one holding the pen. You are the one writing your love story. The fairy tale is what you make of it. If you want beautiful, wedded bliss, CREATE IT!! It is possible! Be kind. Live from your heart. Serve each other. Look for the good in each other. Look out for each other. Pray together. Serve together. PLAY TOGETHER. Love each other. Be intimate. Be supportive. Be intimate some more. Cry together. Laugh together. Sacrifice. LOVE EACH OTHER - with no conditions. Marriage may bring the deepest heartache - but it is also capable of bringing you the sweetest joy you have ever experienced! You can be happy, fulfilled and so deeply in love with each other!
Your love story...
Many would be willing to debate what the greatest love story ever told is. But for me, there is no debate. Our love story is the greatest love story I will ever tell our children. Our love story is the foundation of their lives. It is the story that is worth working for. It is the story worth dreaming about!! The same is true for your story. There is no other love story that is more powerful in your life. Take time to nurture your marriage. Share your love story with your children. I hope you will take the time to write a beautiful page in the history of your love story today!
Recently, a young man asked Andrew and me if we would share our love story on his new podcast, Looking Back. We were thrilled and honored!! Thank you Braden Kerr for documenting the Greatest Love Story ever told!
You can listen to it here: https://tinyurl.com/y5wjl7za
Have a beautiful week!