It's the hardest part about the whole thing. When you fight, when you screw up yet again, when you keep getting wounded in the same spot over and over – how do you move on from there? How do you pull yourself back onto the bike and continue riding? How do you pick up the pieces, for the thousandth time? It's been so long, and still the same problems keep on appearing. How do you begin to say, "This time, things will be different"… when things just won't quit being the same old crap they always have been?
How to Keep Moving Forward
Each relationship is different, unique. So for this last point on navigating a difficult marriage, I present to you the following list of aids for moving forward after messing up. Some of these may apply to you and speak to you, and some may not. But the key to trying again can be found in the title of this series of posts: "Difficult Marriage". In actuality, every marriage is difficult, at one point or another. And that's the way it should be. Why? Because nothing in this world that's worth having comes easy.
Here's the list.
1. Take some time off. Find a sitter for the kids, and get out of the house. If you can, take a day off from work.
2. Write a letter to yourself, or write in a diary. Record everything about this moment that you wish to remember.
3. Many couples have gained tremendous benefit from individual therapy or couples counseling. It's not for everyone, but it could be extremely helpful for you if you have strong influences from your past that continue to sabotage your life. Some therapy resources I would recommend checking out are Dr. Deb and Gary Chapman, author of the book The 5 Love Languages. Both are approachable, down-to-earth yet inspiring people, and both have decades of experience to offer.
4. If therapy sessions are not for you, try finding someone to talk to that you trust. Someone with life experience who can both listen with a sympathetic ear and offer sound advice. How about your family doctor? Or, an older person that you know: an in-law, friend's parent, or perhaps even your own parents. You never know what you might gain from a conversation like that.
5. Write a letter or record a video for your spouse.
6. Take time to cultivate your spiritual life. For me, my faith in Christ is my rock. If my life were a book, Christ would be between all the lines. What about you? What motivates you or grounds you spiritually?
7. Take care of yourself physically. Eat right, sleep well, and exercise! A few more things you can do to take care of your body: get your annual check-up. Go for a massage. Try acupuncture – I highly recommend this from personal experience. In all of these activities, tune in to your body. Be aware of how your body feels and how that affects you mentally.
8. Accept that we all make mistakes. You make them. Your spouse makes them. And it's OK. Life is full of blemishes, just as it's also full of gems.
9. Do something you enjoy – running, hiking, music, dance, martial arts, comedy, going to the movies, surfing, fishing, stargazing, motorcycle riding.
10. Find satisfaction and contentment in all that you have.
[added 2/8/2017]: 11. Give something. Whether it's your possessions, your money, your time by spending time with someone, your knowledge by teaching, your services, or your mentorship to a younger person.
I have to admit that I've felt pretty hypocritical writing these articles on marriage. Why? Because during these past few weeks, I have struggled with every issue that I've written about. In the past few weeks, I've criticized my husband unfairly and selfishly. I've tried to correct him when it wasn't what he really needed. I've written him off as being unable to understand. There have been fights that were full of tears, anger, and disappointment. Somehow, despite the fighting (or maybe because of it), what he was trying to say got through to me. Some communication was made. Eventually, he came to understand my thoughts as well. At a certain point, one of us apologized, and the other forgave. Then, because the kids were still waiting for dinner and playtime, we had to move on with the rest of the day.
I'm not a marriage guru who has a program of marriage success to sell to you. My purpose in writing these posts is just to offer you aid in this lifelong journey that we're both traveling. In these posts, I've used the analogies of growth and cultivation to describe the work that we do in married life. A thriving garden will never stop needing the care of the gardener. Watering, weeding, pruning, harvesting, tilling, and seeding are all activities that need to be repeated day in and day out, year after year. The garden depends on your efforts in order to flourish. Daily we need to make our marriage relationship a top priority. Year by year, we learn how to be with our spouses in new ways as we grow and mature in life. And each new year, we can reach new depths in our relationship, or enter into new, uncharted territory. It's the ultimate adventure, at the same time that it is the ultimate comfort.
Now it's your turn. Do you have any tips, lessons, or experiences for getting through tough times in marriage? Please feel free to leave a comment and share them. All kinds of thoughts and reflections are welcome.
Featured Photo: Source // All opinions are my own.