Do you girls have any idea how much you inspire me with your love for your husbands and commitment to your marriages? One of the blessings of my having chosen to write almost exclusively about marriage for the moment is that my inbox is flooded with beautiful, heart-rending emails from women who are fighting day after day (and often against all odds) to create loving, life-giving unions.
Some of those emails share sweet stories or funny anecdotes but by far the majority of them all tell a similar tale:
I feel so alone.
These women share with me how much it hurts to read and hear about happy, thriving marriages when their own partnership is suffering, their marital boat is taking on water and threatening to go under, and their husbands seem far away and distant.
These emails touch my heart not just because I feel for you, but because I feel you.
Despite my tales of smashing champagne glasses and such, it sounds like this surprises many of you. A close friend of mine was having a conversation about the difficulties of marriage with a friend of hers and my name came up. This friend of mine shared that Dan and I had been through our fair share of really, really hard seasons and her friend expressed shock. She had the impression that my union was all sunshine and roses.
Sometimes it is. And sometimes it’s not.
But I get how some people might be surprised by that because most of us (myself included) make at least some effort not to trash our significant others if we can help it.
As much as we’d love to share the latest offensive thing our husbands have done (and husbands – believe you me, I know this goes both ways) with anyone and everyone who will listen, we try to stop ourselves. We may not always succeed, but we try because we know that there are two sides to every story, that insulting our husbands ultimately tears apart our marriages, and that when push comes to shove we’re a team and you don’t throw your teammate overboard (I mean, not unless he really, really deserves it – wink, wink).
Keeping personal marital rifts largely to ourselves* is right and good. But it’s a cross (often a huge, heavy, painful cross) because when we do this well we can end up feeling alone and isolated. When all we see are spotlights being shone upon the heights of marital ecstasy, the shadows can feel incredibly cold.
I don’t have any solutions for you. I don’t know how to fix it. In fact, I think this is precisely why they say that marriage is sanctifying – because there isn’t always a way to make it better. Sometimes is just really hurts and all you can do in those moments is grit your teeth, bury your head into the chest of your loving Savior, and let him hold you.
Today I simply wanted you to know that I know.
Our crosses are all going to look a little bit different but we all have them. Every single last one of us.
So, when you see a sweet sister today and a little voice tells you that despite all outward appearances she might be struggling, give her a hug and send up a little prayer because goodness knows, even if you’re wrong and she’s doing okay at the moment, who couldn’t use a little extra love and spiritual support?
And if you’re the one who’s suffering today, please believe that you are not alone. Truly, we are all in this together though the darkness can feel cold and lonely and our seasons may not always be in sync.
You, sweet friends, are incredibly strong and brave and I love you. I just really, really love you.
Keep on fighting the good fight, loves!
Edited to add: I say “largely to ourselves” because I do think that there are certain people in whom we can (and often should) confide. Sadly, based on my inbox, it seems that not everyone has someone like this in their life. And for others, it’s just very hard for them to share painful details about their marital difficulties. I’m all for availing ourselves of trusted support when and if we can, though!