Walking this journey toward a stronger marriage isn’t always easy. Even when I stumble and fall, I usually am able to keep moving forward, even if it’s a bit slower for a stretch of time. Sometimes, I just stand and catch my breath.
Right now, however, I am fighting hard to keep from moving backwards.
For the past week and a half, I have been living my marriage in an emotional fog. Several times, I’ve opened up to my husband about an area of emotional vulnerability; every time, he has responded in a way that I don’t handle well.
Through this fog, I see nothing clearly at all. My perceptions are all clouded by a morass of swirling emotions. My husband’s actions and responses are interpreted as an attack on my emotions and on my heart.
Just since yesterday, we’ve had several interactions (sexual and otherwise) that my mind recognizes as signs of increased intimacy, growth, and comfort with each other–yet each time, in my emotional fog, I’ve perceived only that my husband doesn’t know me, see me, care about me, or love me. This morning, as I considered sharing these feelings with him, I found myself thinking that maybe it would just be easier to keep the feelings from him.
I had a mental image of myself laying bricks on the floor around me, starting the foundation of the wall that I’d worked so hard to knock down.
Recently I wrote that I live my life through my emotions and that therefore it was how God reached me to soften my heart. I’ve realized that this is how the enemy is trying to reach me as well. Self-doubt has filled me. I’ve been flooded with tears. My heart feels fragile the second my husband walks in the door at the end of the day. I’m constantly on edge.
These negative feelings, the “why am I even bothering with this?” thoughts, the tide of resentment, and the fog are always worse when we’ve been in a growth stage. My mind knows this, even when my heart hurts.
So this morning, I forced myself to share my feelings with my husband. His response was not what I had hoped for–but honestly, the purpose of sharing was not to get a response as much as it was to keep my walls down.
I emailed one of my praying friends and shared with her what was going on. As she prayed for me, I could feel the fog begin to dissipate and become mist, and I could see more clearly. I could see the intimacy, growth, and comfort in yesterday’s sexual interactions with my husband. With less fog and more clarity, I can see that my husband and I had both taken some steps toward increased intimacy and one-ness in our marriage bed. Beneath my layers of emotion, our marriage is thriving and growing.
I’ve struggled with figuring out how to write about all this…whether to write about it at all. But I am here to share the struggle, even though it’s easier when the struggle I’m writing about is in the past and not something I’m dealing with today. My heart makes everything into an emotional landscape. I want to measure progress and growth by my feelings; when my emotions are murky, it is hard to know if I’ve made any progress at all.
We all have something that bogs us down and keeps us from seeing clearly. For me, it is emotions. For one of my friends, it is having her house in perfect order. Another friend’s view is clouded by whether or not her children are happy. And another finds her view obstructed by what she thinks other people at her church will think of her. When we’re bogged down, we can’t see through the fog.
Another one of my praying friends sent me a reminder about gratitude from Max Lucado:
“Gratitude leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up!”
I remind myself to see the things for which I am thankful: the steps that my husband and I had both taken, the fact that I was able to recognize the wall I was trying to build, the ability to feel the fog and know it was obscuring my view of what is most real in my marriage, the prayers from my friends. And my gratitude burns away the fog.
When the fog is lifted, I see that I’m further along in this journey than I’d thought. And I take a deep breath, say a prayer of thankfulness, and take another step forward.