Monday, February 3, 2014

A Fresh Look at Marriage

Life goes speeding by.

We get swept along in the to-do lists and the shuffling from one activity to the other.  I can get caught up in "please pick that up off the floor" and "what's for supper?" and "that's not an indoor voice."  My husband can get burnt from the demands of days at work and expectations on him as a husband and father when he comes home.  We miss one another in the day-to-day hum. 

When the children are in bed, we do {usually} make time for one another, but by that time we often have only leftovers to offer one another.  I have the dregs of a day filled with home education, a part-time job which I do from home most days and the hosting of neighbor kids or the serving of others' needs.  He has the remnants of a high-paced work environment and the inner call to be a good father and provider.  We meet in that place with what we have left, offering it to one another, sometimes making up for bad days by giving a listening ear or a massage, but other days, both of us too drained to pour out, we just miss one another even when we are sitting face to face with the boys in bed and nothing to distract us from one another.

A marriage needs care like a garden.

I love to garden -- the selecting of new plants (rescuing them from nurseries, as I call it) and placing them in the right spot; the cultivating and watching of beauty in our yard; the blooming of flower, fruit or vegetable from the sweat of my own hands and brow.  I love it all -- even getting dirty in the process.  Marriage is like that.  We have to spend time, cultivate, and even get dirty.  There have been certain years when I didn't have the time for my garden like when my second son was born and we simultaneously began home educating.  I was overwhelmed and preoccupied with more pressing things and my garden reflected the neglect.  But, gardens {and marriages) can be quite forgiving.  The coming years, in due season, I tilled the hardened soil and dug deep.  I amended the ground with good, new earth and I planted seedlings and seeds.  Fruit and beauty has come again to our yard.

This weekend my husband and I took our belated anniversary get-away.  After our youngest turned three we have tried to get away once a year for a Saturday and Sunday.  Date nights are good.  They feed the marriage like a good watering.  Sometimes we need much more -- a good, long, undivided time together.  Once a year at least, you just have to dig up that old soil and put in good new earth. 

Having a cup of coffee in Morro Bay

We had dear friends who offered to host our boys for a weekend.  Another friend offered to care for our dog.  Our immediate family does not live nearby, so we have to be courageous to ask others and then to offer to bless them in return.  My dear friend who cared for our boys surprised us with not only hosting the boys, but preparing a basket of goodies for us to take with us.  I always admire how she goes the extra mile when blessing someone.  I am her student in the art of giving. 

God's Gifts from the hand of a friend
I have learned one thing about these weekends away.  We can't over-plan them and we can't have too many expectations.  For us, if we have some ideas about what we could do and we have an attitude of going with the flow, we can relax and enjoy one another the whole time we are away.  We did a lot of walking around talking and exploring a few different towns on the Central Coast of California. 

On Sunday, there was a downpour of rain outside the restaurant where we were enjoying breakfast.  We had planned to take a mid-morning hike.  Life sometimes happens like that.  We plan and then life rains in, even on special getaway weekends. 

The rain on the roads
The rain on my windshield as we drove to the cliffs
We decided to drive up to the cliffs anyway and watch the rain come in over the ocean from the car.  When we got there, the sky suddenly cleared and we were able to hike two separate trails for almost two hours.  We got into the car at the end of the hike and it started drizzling and before we had even left the State Park the rain was pouring down again.  Life is like that too -- we lean into what is and accept it and sometimes the clouds just clear. 

The skies turned blue in Montana D'Oro State Park
The love of my life on our surprisingly sunny hike
This getaway revived my love for my husband.  It revived our romance and our hope for our future together.  We planted seeds during this weekend which will grow over the coming year.  We have memories to savor that will sustain us.  I encourage you to till the garden of your marriage this year -- dig deep and add new soil.  If you can't get away, plan a date night.  If you can't plan a date night, plan a stay-at-home night of connecting.  Marriage is like a garden.  It needs our tending and cultivating to thrive. 

1 comment:

HeartsHomeward said...

Jaimie, you will be so glad you did. I am the same way -- it has taken me time to get used to saying, "Yes" when people ask if they can bless me or our family. I have had enough friends tell me, "Let us have the blessing of giving," that I finally have realized that they get joy from serving. We count these friends as such a blessing!