My husband asked me a question the other day; which felt like a bullet, but knew why he asked the question. His question was – “Are we friends anymore?” He said, “Do we care what is best for the other person or are we so competitive with our own needs we can’t see behind the blinders?”
He was right to ask the question. If you saw us at a party, you’d see our outgoing, bigger than life personalities, but behind closed doors you might see nagging, frustration, and pointing fingers. On his behalf, he was asking why are bags, shoes, and other daily items left in the kitchen or on the dresser? For me I was asking – don’t you see me trying to do everything after a long, work commute from cooking dinner, giving our daughter a bath, to putting her to bed?
At the beginning, our relationship consisted of kissing, butterflies, dates, and humor. Now we had to care about careers, the house, parenthood, and not losing ourselves in the mayhem. There are times I’ve said to my husband, “It’d be a lot more fun to be the mistress than his wife.” As the wife, you become part of a routine. As the mistress all you have to be is fun.
Life has definitely changed. My husband use to leave me messages before I arrived to work. Now the messages are – Can you pick up our daughter? He use to count down the minutes until he saw me. Now I get the quick hello before he looks down at his laptop. The question is can we be friends?
I know many couples hit this question in their marriage – Can we be friends? This depends. It depends if you were friends in the first place. It depends if you are willing to do what it takes to be friends. The song “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns, came at a perfect time for me. For in many ways, my relationship was broken. We knew we loved each other, but didn’t know how to love each other. We knew what we should be doing, but didn’t think the rules applied to us. Everything was more important than our relationship. Our talks sounded like this: this is part of my job do you want me to quit, can’t you just let me have this time with my friends without bugging me, we don’t own each other, or can’t you support me on this new venture? What we needed to say was: I appreciate you, can’t imagine life without you, and we are in this together.
This is definitely how we felt at the beginning. We thought it was us against the world as we were attentive to each other: chocolate milk for the car ride, flowers at the office, co-ed softball, and getaway weekends. We were proud of our relationship. We bragged about each other. What we had to learn is we could still be proud of our relationship, but now we would have to learn how to love and be broken. We would have to learn how to have real life and appreciate what we both bring to the table. It is doable.
Before where life was easy to date now you have to plan it. It takes work, but like the old saying – everything good takes work. Everything good you have to nourish. You can’t have a garden without watering it. For those who don’t think you should have to put in effort or time – do you actually think the next relationship will turn out differently? I’ve asked divorcees and most have said what they know now which they wish they knew then was to not give up. They’ve also said every relationship takes work.
You’re willing to put work into your career – why not your love life? For women they want the fairytale ending. For men, they want sex. Then reality strikes. Through life, we learn we can’t have roses without thorns. What is real is laundry, dishes, and bills. What is real is living through not only the good times, but tragedies together. Tragedies of death, job loss, sickness, infidelities, etc. Yet this is what you agreed to when you said I do. Life is not easy which means marriage is not easy. In the Bible, God took a rib out of Adam to make Eve; which means no matter what marriage cleaves you together. If you don’t give up – you have a partner to help you through it.
Not giving up, means going the extra mile for your spouse, helping your spouse, and believing in your spouse. It means doing the things you did at the beginning of the relationship such as going on dates, sending special emails, thanking the person for what they do, not nagging about the little things, or helping the other person without needing to ask. One saying I heard once; which now I believe is marriage doesn’t take 100% sometimes it takes 125% when the other person can only give 75%. The goal is to realize you’re both broken and at times will need the other person to give 125%. It’s ok to be broken because we all are. Adam and Eve were broken. Even Adam and Even learned about real life. Just like us, they needed to leave paradise and learn how to live outside paradise. If you talk and work it out with your spouse, you may just see paradise is what you make it and it’s the best 125% you’ve ever given.