“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. Matthew 7:24-25
When our marriage was weak, our disagreements did not resolve well. We didn’t have good communication tools, and even if we had, I don’t know that we were in a place to use them. When my husband said something that hurt me, I would be busy going around repairing my internal walls against him even as I heard a voice in my head telling me to stop and reach out.
I frequently slept on the couch. I couldn’t bear to be in bed lying next to the man who had said hurtful things to me or who seemed not to care that I was hurting. I wanted to cry myself to sleep alone, hanging onto a teddy bear that holds the tears of years of a refusing and gate-keeping heart. (Don’t judge me. Big Guy gave me that bear the first Christmas after we started dating.) My husband would come downstairs in the morning. “Why did you sleep down here? Was it me?” And teary-eyed, I would nod while he held me—and that often led us to early morning sex, because at that moment, I felt understood and cared for and loved.
When we are battered by the storms of life, it helps to be standing on a strong foundation. After many years of a weak foundation, my husband and I have been rebuilding. We spend more time, together, in faith than we have at any other time in our marriage. I want us to do even more spiritually together; that desire is a relatively new thing. Over the past year, as we’ve faced the normal ups and downs of life, we have been able to go to our marriage as a bedrock. We are firm in our relationship. We trust each other. Getting here has been hard work.
Parenting young adult children isn’t for sissies. We are watching a son make bad decisions due to a problem that is worse than we’d realized. He is scared, we are scared for him, and we are navigating completely unfamiliar waters. This is nothing more than many parents have dealt with. It’s part of the package of parenting. We raise them the best we can, and they have the right to make decisions we don’t agree with and that have difficult and potentially long-lasting consequences.
I am emotionally bruised today. Yesterday began with a difficult situation. As the day developed, it was clear that Big Guy and I were both operating out of our own hurts and fears. We were tired and not at our best. I tried to comfort my husband; he pushed away all I offered—my words, my arms, me.
At one point last night, my husband said hurtful words; I left the room so he could speak alone with our son. I ended up in our room, crying and praying—and forgiving what he’d said out of his own hurt. But not until I had a moment of thinking that I would never again be able to have sex with this man. After all the work I’ve done on myself, it shook me to know that this thought could emerge so quickly and easily.
My husband was still downstairs. This time, I was the one who went downstairs to check on him. I found him, sitting on the couch, looking forlorn. He apologized. I forgave him. I asked him why he was on the couch instead of upstairs. “I figured you wouldn’t want to be around me after how I treated you.”
I felt like I’d just been knocked over. “You don’t trust our marriage enough to know that it can handle this? You don’t trust me enough?” After all this hard work on our marriage, how can he assume to know what I think? How can he assume our marriage isn’t strong enough? My freshly healed wound opened right back up.
As I tried to fall asleep later, I wondered if he was ever going to be able to trust our marriage. Maybe I did so much damage to our marriage that it won’t ever be right. Maybe I was fooling myself to think we were okay. Maybe I’m still a foolish builder. How can he not trust me to love him now? If he can’t even assume we are okay and that I love him, what’s the point of even trying? I knew he’d felt so many of his foundations had been shaken that day, but I really didn’t think that would include our marriage.
This morning, I sat in the living room, tears streaming down my face. Big Guy asked me, gently, if I was crying about our son. I shook my head. “Is it me?” he asked. I nodded. He folded me into his arms, sat me down on the couch, and held me. He began to apologize for how he’d spoken to me. I told him I forgave him and understood—but explained that it wasn’t why I was upset. “I’m upset that after all the work I’ve done to try to be a better wife, that you still didn’t trust me or our marriage enough to know that I would still love you and want you. You made an assumption that hurt me.”
He said he had not been a good husband to me yesterday. When he’d said, “I figured you wouldn’t want to be around me,” it was because he thought that’s what I should have felt. He was feeling bad about himself, not about me or about the marriage.
So, uh, who did I think it was making assumption? In my own hurting state, I had assumed that my husband’s reluctance to come upstairs last night was about me and our marriage. It was really about his own feelings about himself. He’d spoken to me unlovingly, he’d rejected the comfort I’d offered, and he had offered no comfort to me. He was feeling like a bad husband to a woman he felt deserved more. We were both making wrong assumptions about the other’s feelings.
So today, we’re both feeling like we’ve been through a storm. We know we still face torrential rain and winds that beat against us. This thing with our son is not going to be easy. We are going to need each other. We are going to need to cling to the foundation we’ve been building.
Clinging to the Bedrock
We enter a new season in our marriage—one that we know won’t last forever. We have an opportunity to learn lessons that will last far beyond this season.
- It is time to work toward a new level of our spiritual relationship.
- My husband and I will both need comfort and encouragement as we move forward. We may need to reach out to resources and friends in ways we haven’t done in the past.
- We cannot erase sadness and fear, in ourselves or in each other. The comfort we give each other won’t change our reality. It can, however, help soothe our hearts as we ride the coming storm. Having my husband’s strong arms around me this morning provided me with calm and strength.
- Assumptions get in the way. Jumping to a conclusion about what my husband was thinking and feeling led me to feel hours of hurt. This is my own fault.
- This is a time for grace. Neither of us is at our best right now. We process our feelings in different ways, and our ups and downs will not follow the exact same rhythms. I need to extend my husband some grace and understand that he will say and do things that come out of his hurt and have nothing to do with me. I pray for him to do likewise with me.
- Sex is important. Sex is a glue that bonds a couple together. It is what helps maintain our strength as a couple. We will need to be intentional about sex for a while. This is one of those seasons in life when we will have times when we have sex because it matters to our marriage, not because either of us is particularly interested. There is great comfort to be found in simply lying naked with each other, holding and being held.
- Sex may be different for a while. I enjoy sex most when I am relaxed, and I am pretty sure a state of relaxation will be a challenge for a while. It will be hard for me to approach sex as a fun romp, a “let’s play for a while, Big Guy.” This may be a season of giving more than receiving for me. And that will be okay and will fulfill me in an entirely different way than other kinds of sex.
We will weather the storms that come. We don’t know what shape the storm will take, but we do know that we stand, firmer on the foundation of Jesus than we’ve ever been before. We will hang on, to Jesus and to each other.