One October day, Tom and I decided to make a quick trip to the mountains. While we gathered all the things, and it seemed to take forever just to load the car, I had a recurring thought. I wondered why we’d go to so much trouble for two nights away. Turns out we spent most of our time in the car. With random delays and unprecedented traffic, we arrived exhausted and grumpy (mostly me) long after midnight, and we’d have only one full day of vacation.
Thankfully, the one day ended up being delightful and worth the effort.
Every scenario that throws the two of us alone together is a worthwhile investment.
Another trip took place many years earlier. Our married life had become distant and stressed. Tom worked at a bustling paper mill nearly an hour away. He was a chemical engineer, on call 24/7.
I was a full-time mom to four: a tiny toddler, active preschooler, an intellectually disabled adolescent, and an unhappy, struggling teenager.
Most nights, Tom and I would awaken to unintelligible sounds and cries. Dawn, our special child, would stand beside our bed, flap her hands and stomp her feet. She wasn’t able to communicate her needs which broke my heart. We’d attempt to comfort her and coax her to sleep, with no success. I tried to remain calm because being agitated only worsened the situation. One of us would bring her downstairs and lay on the sofa as she stood beside us. Nothing worked to settle her. It was extremely frustrating. Lack of sleep and our inability to handle Dawn caused great stress. Tom would leave for work early each morning and put in twelve hours. We’d eat supper, clean up, bathe the kids and tuck them in, and finally fall into bed, depleted. Dawn would appear at our bedside and the cycle began again. We were often like strangers. When we finally had time to talk I sometimes felt frozen and didn’t even know where to begin.
One Sunday Tom made an announcement. “After church, we’ll go to Mom and Dad’s and leave the kids. I’ve made plans for us to stay overnight on Baldhead Island.” I slumped, sighed and rolled my eyes. I was ambivalent—I could take it or leave it. I felt numb and didn’t know what to say. It seemed easier to just stay home. “Come on Honey, we need time together—we need to talk; the kids will be fine.” I couldn’t argue.
What makes a trip to Baldhead magical is you take a slow moving ferry to get there. The trip can’t be hurried. You’re surrounded by squawking seagulls, the humming ferry engine and lapping waves. I breathed deeply for the first time in ages. After a few hours, I relaxed and we started to talk. Without life’s clutter and chatter I began to really see my husband for the quality person he is and I fell in love all over again. We looked each other in the eye and honestly shared our stresses and feelings. We really listened. We watched the sunset from the beach and I thought, how could life be any better? And to think, I didn’t want to be there six hours earlier. Here’s the eye-opening truth: we desperately needed dedicated time with each other. It’s so much trouble. But it is worth it. We were back home from Baldhead Island in twenty-four hours and we felt like different people.
“Anything worth having is worth fighting for.”
Sarah Elizabeth Phillips
If you’re married don’t give up. If you fantasize about living separately, find a wise counselor who can help strengthen your marriage. Don’t threaten to leave or plan to divorce. If you feel like you’ve fallen out of love with your spouse, perhaps when you fell in love you didn’t understand the meaning of the word. You had unrealistic expectations. Love is a verb not a feeling. There can be wonderful feelings associated with love, but when feelings change, remember your promise.
- Put your spouse first, children second.
- Save money for a babysitter.
- Celebrate and have fun with your spouse like you would with a friend.
- Make your home and bedroom presentable as you would for guests.
- Let go of the expectation that your spouse will meet all your emotional needs. Magic will happen when you meet your spouse’s needs. Ultimately, God is the only one who meets our deepest emotional needs.
Marriage is a gift that keeps on giving. God made us to need each other.
Want to know the best news of all? Marriage is designed to get better and better. I would never trade our thirty-seven years for the newlywed era. We’re intermingled, intimate, and free to be us. Marriage is so much richer now.
“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”