Faith

Love in the Time of Scarlet Fever

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on January 27, 2014

Love in the Time of Scarlet Fever

My husband and my steroid share a name. That seems appropriate after this weekend. Lifesavers, both of them.

I used to think love was freshly picked Magnolias, playful puddle jumping, and holding hands in the rain. I thought it was sweet nothings and kisses behind the ear. I thought it was letters penned with passion and odes to love carved into sand. I thought it was skywriting, fireworks, and kisses that make cartoon hearts pop out of the besotted.

I still do. But, oh my goodness, how those things only scratch the surface.

Our entire little family of eight (save the baby) came down with Scarlet Fever this weekend. It was just about as unpleasant as you would imagine.

Misery, thy name is Scarlet Fever.

Thankfully, there were a couple of smiles mixed in, too. Like the moment my little Lucy stood up on the top of her bunk at bedtime and dramatically announced that it was a good thing she had medicine because without it she would have “DIED because Scarlet Fever is a VERY SERIOUS DISEASE.”

Thank you, Velveteen Rabbit.

So, smiles, yes, and also love. Love like this:

I spent most of Saturday lying in bed while Dan held down the fort. I won’t lie — I was pretty relieved that he’d thus far been spared so that I could sleep, soak, and wallow. He cooked and cleaned, doled out medicine and wiped feverish brows, and he ran errands. He insisted that I sleep, sleep, and sleep some more. He served without ceasing, complaining, or seeking recognition. (I almost never serve without ceasing, complaining, or seeking recognition.)

Later in the day we decided it was time to take the older boys to the ER. They left well before dinnertime and stumbled back in after bedtime. The boys gathered around me on the couch — while Dan made one last run to the pharmacy — and regaled me with tales of their ER adventure. At one point, their eyes got very big and they told me in hushed, serious tones that when the doctor had looked at their Daddy’s throat she had pronounced him the sickest of all.

The sickest of all.

That’s right. My “healthy” husband who had been keeping the family afloat while I slumbered was in truth, every bit as sick as the rest of us. He never said a word; never uttered a complaint; never even sat down to rest.

That, my friends, is love.

Sometimes it’s all that other sparkly stuff, as well, but when you get down deep into the heart of it, love is profound self-sacrifice offered with a sweet kiss, a wink of the eye, and a tender smile. (And I’m pretty sure those last three things are optional in a cherry on top kind of way.)

Someone once asked me (innocently) why husbands and wives praise their spouses publicly. Was it just to brag?

I don’t think so. At least not all the time.

There’s a lot of talk out there (some of it coming from yours truly) about how very hard marriage can be. That’s not a bad thing. I think that being honest about our struggles helps others to feel a little less alone. It’s good to know that the valleys are normal so that they don’t seem quite so cold and dark when you stumble upon them.

But that’s only one part of marriage.

A marriage on its best days will light up the sky far more brightly than any man-made fireworks. To see another selflessly (and often at great cost to themselves) pour themselves out for you — and to feel that irresistible urge to pour yourself out for them — will take your breath away and make you wonder at God’s love for undeserving you. At least it’s always had that effect on me.

People need to hear these happy, hopeful stories, too.

Marriage will stretch and challenge you in ways you never imagined — absolutely — but it will also bring you more joy than you once thought it was possible to possess.

The more challenging moments will not only pale in comparison to the happier ones but truly and in some mystical way, the good times will transform the bad times into things of beauty. Sometimes only in retrospect and in a “I’m grateful for the growth opportunity” kind of way, but still. The interplay between the two is really something.

I could go on and on, but I’m all drugged up and who knows where and when that would end, Plus, I should probably run and duck because when Dan sees that I wrote this, he will surely send the pillows flying my way. He’s not a huge fan of my sharing the sweet, selfless things he does with other people.

Plus, I have a VERY SERIOUS DISEASE to combat.

{ 22 comments }

Party Planning is My Charism

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on January 23, 2014

Last week a friend of mine sent me my very own FitBit. Isn’t that ridiculously sweet? I couldn’t believe it. She wins all the friendship gold medals and I should probably name my next child after her.

As I suspected, I am completely smitten, it’s everything I dreamed it would be, and my life is forever changed. No surprise there.

What was surprising is the little bombshell its trusty sleep tracker just dropped in my lap. According to it’s well-calibrated motion detector, my sweet-as-pie baby boy has been waking me up an average of fifty times a night! How about that?

Fifty, girls. FIFTY.

I mean, I knew that I wasn’t sleeping — and haven’t been for almost ten months — but I don’t think I realized just how bad it was. Not every sleep disruption requires that I get out of bed, of course, but they all require that I exit the delicious world of REM and tend to Charlie in some way.

I think you can go one of two ways when you find out that your sleep patterns rival those of a Gulag prisoner. You can throw a massive pity party (and there’s no shame in that game — you have totally earned it, you partiers of pity) or you can go the bad a** route. As in: only a truly amazing person could survive nearly a year of intense sleep-deprivation.

I go back and forth, but at the moment I’m totally donning my cape. It’s pink and has AWESOME written all over it, in case you were wondering. (You’ll probably get your invite to my cape burning party next week, though, so be on the lookout for that.)

Anyway, I had an epiphany that blew my mind, and probably won’t blow yours, but I’m going to share it anyway. Here goes:

Adding tasks to my to-do list can (potentially) give me energy.

Crazy, I know.

Jen has written about this in the past, and I love her thoughts. As with so many things, though, it took me a while to really get it on a personal level.

I’ve long been inspired by this idea that every person should seek out the things of this world that make them feel alive and had a pretty good idea before Charlie was born of which sort of things enlivened me and which things, though lovely, belong on my personal Life Ruining list.

Howard Thurman quote

While in the midst of sleep-deprivation, though, even the things which normally exhilarate me deplete me. I just figured that was to be expected given the circumstances and that there was nothing to do but wait out this survival season.

When the Holy Spirit hit Jen and me upside the head with this idea that we should throw a big party this summer our initial reaction was “Ha ha ha — you’re funny, God.” Because our lives? They are intense. Eventually we consented, though, and desperately embraced the mantra: “If God brings you to it, he’ll bring you through it.”

Never in a million years would I have expected that the gathering we’re planning would become that thing that makes me excited to hop out of bed in the morning. (Can party planning be a charism? I think yes.) Even when our venue fell through, and we had to toss out all of our hard work, create a new vision, and start from scratch, it was this event that kept me smiling in spite of all exhaustion.

Every morning I wake up, pour over the options, and start plotting ways in which we can make everyone’s visit to Austin as fun and fulfilling as possible. By the time Jen wakes up over in CST land, she usually has at least five emails that say:

Ooh, this place has a rooftop pool!

This place will hand out tickets for free glasses of wine when our guests arrive!

This place has a coffee shop in the lobby!

And this place is right in the heart of downtown Austin!

What about Karaoke? We totally need a Karaoke machine!

(Except with far more exclamation points and emoticons.)

It’s such a high for me, I can’t even tell you.

As I was puzzling over how it was that planning this gathering (which is, no doubt about it, a lot of work) could leave me feeling so invigorated, it hit me that within the list of things that make me feel alive and bring joy to my life, there is a sublist of things that have the power to energize me. It seems so simple and obvious, but this idea that some of my passions fuel me and some of them require fuel really was kind of a lightning bolt moment for me.

The little changes I’ve made as a result of this realization are already bearing fruit and the idea that there are things out there that — though technically fall under the category of ‘work’ — can give me energy when my stores are low, is exciting.

It’s not a panacea, of course. I’m still tired, my inbox is shamefully neglected (as is this blog), my laundry pile is two floors too high, and I still have to accomplish all sorts of things each day that sap my energy. That’s just life. But still, I feel like I have a new tool in my arsenal and new tools make me feel like I’m going to win at all the things.

And even if this experiment ends up being full of fail, you won’t hear too many complaints from me. There are far worse things that could wake a gal up every 9.6 minutes than this guy. Wrapped around his little finger, I am.

{ 12 comments }

Love, Life, and Death

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on November 26, 2013

Dan, the kids, and I attended Valerie and Nathan’s wedding just over two weeks ago. It was such a high, I can’t even tell you. I came back wanting to write a post that simply said: CRASH ALL THE WEDDINGS!!!

We don’t often get to attend weddings together. I see now that this has been a mistake. We should have been breaking down the walls of the local young adults group begging them to befriend us and invite us to all their ceremonies. Because the romance at these weddings? It’s in the air you breathe and the water (and wine) you drink. It’s crazy.

Hearing Nathan and Valerie say their vows swept me right back to that cool October evening in 2001 that found Dan and me standing face-to-face in an old Spanish church promising to love one another through good times and bad. We exchanged a tender glance and in some mystical way, I could almost feel our vows being renewed, separated though we were by several pews thanks to little ones who were starting to question the promise of the elusive wedding cake. (See below.)

Z-grump

Hours later we danced in the upstairs room of a charming little French restaurant with Charlie tucked between us. I was reminded of just how far we have come in these last twelve years and how our love has grown and (literally) multiplied. That, too, was a very special moment.

In the two weeks since their wedding, though, it feels like every time I open my computer there is news of another wife who has suddenly lost her beloved husband after five months, two years, seven years, and more than twenty years (still, far, far too soon) of marriage.

As I read those sad announcements one by one, still high off of the wedding we’d just attended, I was struck by what an act of faith it is to marry another. In doing so, we open ourselves to life, yes, but also death. And not just the possibility of death, but the assurance of death. Not forever, of course — our hope being in life everlasting — but earthly, excruciating death, nonetheless.

I don’t think I’d ever really thought about the fact that it takes bravery to say ‘yes’ to marriage. I’ve always known that for all the bliss, there will be pain involved in this journey, but something about the quick succession of all of these losses has really brought home the fact that through our marital fiats, we’ve invited in the possibility of a pain so acute that it has the power to knock us to our knees and steal our breath.

That’s no small thing.

What I’ve seen lately, though, is the manifestation of marriage as a community experience and it’s been a beautiful sight to behold. I had the privilege of watching as Nathan and Valerie’s friends gathered to pray, and dance, and toast them. Then I came home and also had the privilege of watching as these young widows were gathered up and kept alive by the God-given breath of their sisters (both in blood and in Christ) until they could breathe again on their own. In theory, I know that God’s grace knows no bounds, but to see it in action is always awe-inspiring.

I know this isn’t any kind of revelation. Wise men and women, scholars, saints, and everybody else have been discussing such things for all of time, and I don’t have anything new to add, really. But in that strange way that joy can bubble up out of even the most overwhelming grief, even as my heart has ached for these women, I’ve experienced gratitude. For my own marriage (whatever days Dan and I may have left to spend together here on earth), yes, but also for all of you who have made yourself vulnerable and bravely said yes to marriage.

It’s an honor to share the experience of this ecstatic and treacherous journey with you and it’s a comfort to know that we are all in this together. Though I know most of you strictly through the Internet, I’m grateful for you and so very glad we’ve found one another. It brings me such peace to know you’re out there. During whatever moments of quiet we can cultivate during this holiday season, let’s pray for one another and for all of our sisters out there who are grieving.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, light, and laughter.

 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

As I mentioned over on Facebook, a fund has been set up here to support one of the widows (and her unborn child) I mentioned. If you know of any other similar endeavors, please let me know and I will add them to my Facebook page, as well. Thank you!

{ 8 comments }

A Letter to a Young Bride

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on October 24, 2013

Moxie Wife: A Letter to a Young Bride

My friend Valerie is getting married in 16 days. At this moment she’s traveling across the country en route to her soon-to-be new home where she will unload her belongings and settle in a bit before returning to Charleston for the wedding.

I haven’t known Valerie long, but I just love her to pieces. She reminds me a lot of myself — only cuter, sweeter, smarter, and more holy. I miss her already.

It’s been such a joy to watch as she got engaged and now prepares for marriage. She has such respect for the sacrament and a deep, deep love for her fiance. We’ve talked a lot about marriage over the past few months and I’ve quietly wondered, “If I could share just one piece of advice with her, what would it be?”

There are, of course, so many things I’d like to share, so many things I wish I’d known prior to getting married. Every time I’d settle on that one thing I’d like her to know, though, it struck me that in order to know this thing I wanted to share with her — to truly know it deep down in her bones and on a soul level — she’s going to have to live it first.

You can read books about marriage, listen to all the advice in the world, and study other couples — and it’s good to do these things — but often, to be able to integrate a piece of marital advice, you have to experience the pain of conflict and the sweetness of reconciliation a few times before the a-ha! moment hits you.

After a few failed attempts to settle on that one thing that I want Valerie to know, I suddenly realized that the thing I was searching for was actually the one common thread that ran through every specific piece of advice I could come up with. It was this:

Be patient with yourself, sweet Valerie, and be patient with Nathan.

This whole sharing your life with someone thing has a way of bringing you face to face with your own limitations in short order. All of your vices will come out to play, and so will his, and (as shocking as this may be) they won’t always get along. But if you’re patient — and not just in a waiting for the time to pass way, but in a tolerant, compassionate, and merciful way — you’ll find that this love you share with Nathan will grow into something far more beautiful than you could have ever envisioned.

As for having to live through a thing to know it, here’s an example:

As a bit of a hot-blooded individual, I knew (very, very, very) well the importance of picking my battles long before I married Dan. There’s something about being a newlywed that makes everything feel so incredibly important, though. Talking through every last little thing? Important! Going to sleep at the same time every night? Important! Putting the milk on the third row, left-hand side of the refrigerator? So important!

This isn’t a bad thing. When a man and woman come together and endeavor to make a life together, they need to establish habits that will make their new life run smoothly. Some things simply have to be hashed out. But if I told you that it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things whether he backs his car into parking spaces, will that stop your blood from running a little hot?

Probably not. All the advice in the world wouldn’t have made any difference for newly-wedded me. I was right and Dan was wrong and the fact that he did not grasp this information was something that had to be remedied. It was as simple as that. I was willing to die on every last little hill.

But after a few years of ruined romantic evenings that found us stewing at opposite sides of the house instead of snuggling on the couch, those things that once felt so important to me suddenly started to feel a little less so. I just wanted to be with him. Life is hard enough without fighting unnecessary battles within the walls of your own home.

A Letter to a Young Bride

There are countless other examples, of course — getting used to the silence into which so many men retreat when they’re in problem-solving mode, learning how to endure the valleys, trusting God to fix things between you that you cannot — but if you extend to one another the same merciful patience that God extends to you each and every day, your marriage will flourish and be such a gift to this hurting world of ours.

Gosh, I hope this isn’t demoralizing. I don’t mean for it to be. My marriage is pretty much my most favorite thing in the whole world and I have no doubt that you and Nathan, too, will experience far, far more highs than lows in your own union.

But on those days when learning the art of marriage feels heavy on your shoulders, don’t let spiritual attack make you believe that any of these bumps in the road mean more than they do. None of these growing pains point to a lack of love or some profound deficiency in your union. It’s just a big change to go from two to one — one that every married couple has to wrestle with a little. And one that, you guessed it, takes a whole lot of patience.

The good news is that there are very few things in marriage that can’t be fixed with a few fervent prayers, a heartfelt apology, a touch of forgiveness, and a dose of sweet, sweet lovin’ (wink).

{ 16 comments }

Love in a Season of Want

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on October 17, 2013

Moxie Wife: Love in a Season of Want

“If you want to have a healthy, thriving marriage,” they say, “you must make it a priority.”

True. Absolutely, completely, and unequivocally true.

“It is essential that you make time for regular date nights and romantic weekends away with your husband.”

That’s where we part ways.

I mean, yes, in an ideal world. No one is a bigger date night cheerleader than I. And as for entire romantic-packed nights away from the kids? Sign me up. But do you know how long it’s been since Dan and I took a vacation alone? I do. I remember exactly — not because I’m a great record keeper or have a good memory (I’m not and I don’t) but because our oldest son had his birthday last week and our last vacation alone together took place right before he was born.

It’s been more than ten years.

When our huge-hearted friends Hannah and Valerie first came to watch the kids for us nine or so months ago I made a comment about how this was the first time we’d gone out on a date in over two years. Oh, girls, you should have seen their gorgeous eyes widen. They are the cutest.

But it was true.

Since making that comment we’ve gone out together alone countless times thanks to their generosity and have savored each and every second. But our marriage doesn’t rely on date nights. It benefits from them, sure, but its health is not dependent upon them.

I was thinking about all of this the other day after I read an email from a sweet gal who confided to me that it had been a very long time since she and her husband had been out on a ‘real’ date. She said that her husband works long hours and that they are currently pinching pennies — as so many of us are. They have a passel of little ones (including a baby) who make it difficult to get out of the house without the babysitter they can’t really afford, and they have no family in town. She was worried that this date-less season in which they find themselves might cause their marriage to suffer. She feared it might mean that they weren’t doing enough to make their marriage a priority.

I don’t think she has a thing to worry about. It wasn’t hard to see — even from our brief exchange — that she and her husband are deeply in love and committed to their marriage. They make it a point to connect regularly and spend lots of one-on-one time together . They just have to be a little more creative than couples who have more freedom and flexibility. Romantic time for them these days demands frugality and ingenuity.

I know that people who exhort couples to spend time alone out of the house are only trying to help and their advice is excellent for those who can can follow it, but as a woman who has spent a lot of time dating my husband within the walls of my own home, I’d like to offer a different kind of encouragement.

Here’s what I’d like to say to all you adorable adoring wives out there who are trying to cultivate love and romance amidst difficult circumstances:

When you’re going through lean times, financially-speaking, and yet spend hours thinking about frugal ways to have romantic stay-at-home date nights, you are making your marriage a priority.

When you write your husband love letters because you can’t afford to buy him a gift, you are making your marriage a priority.

When you can’t afford fine lingerie, and so have no choice but to show up for romantic rendezvous of the more intimate variety in your birthday suit alone, you are making your marriage a priority.

When your husband seems embarrassed that he can’t afford to take you out for a night on the town and you assure him that all you want is to be with him — anytime and anywhere, you are making your marriage a priority.

When your husband is struggling with depression or other illness and can’t find the energy or desire to take you out and you choose to shower him with love and mercy in spite of your disappointment and hurt, you are making your marriage a priority.

When you dig down deep to find ways to love your husband and cultivate romance in spite of all exhaustion, frustration, and financial limitation, you are making your marriage a priority.

When you worry about whether you are making your marriage a priority? You are making your marriage a priority.

I’m not denying that time spent alone with your husband (outside of the house) is a worthy goal if you can swing it. But date nights are not the be all and end all of marriage. And certainly not a prerequisite to having a strong, healthy union.

Do know what is a prerequisite to having a thriving marriage? Faith, a spirit of self-sacrifice, and a heart full of love. From what I’ve seen, you girls are all over that.

So be at peace. I’m just as sure as sure can be that when God sees you pouring love into your marriage in spite of all hardship that he smiles a God-sized smile in your direction. After all, you are living out a true sacrificial love story, and that’s his favorite kind, I hear.

{ 34 comments }

Your Love Story Isn’t Over Yet

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on October 10, 2013

I was chatting with a close friend on the phone the other day about the ways in which my marriage has blossomed in the past year or so. She knows about some of the struggles Dan and I have faced, and the demons with which we’ve wrestled.

“I wish I could write about the things I’ve seen and the ways that the love — not just romantic love, but true hardcore agape love — has grown between Dan and I.” I said. But many of the details are things I don’t feel comfortable sharing with the world at large. Many of our battles are unknown even to her.

“I just wish I could encourage all those couples slugging it out and slogging through, and who’ve resigned themselves to a life of the same, to not give up hope.”

Well, that I can do.

I don’t have any brilliant advice to give — other than to encourage you to cling steadfastly to hope — and I don’t have any terrible compelling stories to share — other than to tell you that through my own marriage I’ve seen God’s generosity and mercy at work firsthand — but I will say this:

Your marriage has as much potential as God has power.

Maybe things are darker than you ever could have imagined and you’re sitting there wondering whether you can endure another fifty years or so of this. Maybe you want to check out and take the next plane to Antigua.

Or maybe, like me, you’re completely smitten with your spouse and always have been, but simply weren’t prepared for the many small crosses of marriage. Maybe you’re wondering whether the minor (and sometimes not-so-minor) irritations and misunderstandings that dot your days will ever abate. Maybe a subtle but ever-present distance has grown between you and your husband. And maybe you’re missing all that wildly passionate love that once had the power to cover a multitude of sins.

About a year ago I wrote this:

Much has been written by women far wiser than I about how to fight fair. I think such exhortations are fantastic and should be implemented as much and as often as possible. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that until and unless God himself chooses to transform me and Dan (and the way we argue), no amount of advice is going to make a difference.

If we hit that red zone, all encouragements to take a step back, to breathe, and to view this process as a quest for truth fly out the window.

But you know, over time I’ve made peace with that. Sometimes you just have to accept the ugliness and patiently wait for God to redeem it.

Which, as you know, he always does.

That reflection about how God always redeems the ugliness? It was written in faith. At that point Dan and I were still very much at the mercy of the red zone.

I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, but it seems that might no longer be true. I think we’ve had maybe one noteworthy argument since then? And it didn’t even involve the shattering of champagne flutes. How about that?

The Divine Physician worked on us for a long time. He tested, challenged, and stretched us out of our comfort zones again and again and again.

By the grace of God alone we did make some progress. We became a little more humble, a touch more patient, and our trust in God grew bit by bit. But you know, saint-making is a lifelong process. Most of us don’t wake up one morning and realize that at long last we’re finally holy enough to be exemplary wives and husbands who only ever treat one another with kindness and perfect respect.

But do you know what can happen? God can gaze down from between a break in the clouds and see two fallen, undeserving people doing their best to make this whole marriage thing work. He can see them battling it out day after day, begging him for mercy and reprieve, and he — in all of his incomprehensible goodness — can say, “Yes.”

“Yes, I will infuse you with more love for one another than you ever could have imagined. Yes, I will tear down the silly walls that stand between you. And yes, you will have your happily ever after — though it may look a little different than your young, naive mind might once have imagined.”

Does this mean that we will never again experience marital growing pains? I highly doubt it. I’m sure God has more refinement in store for Dan and me. Perhaps our biggest challenges are yet to come. But some sort of crazy heavenly grace has rained down upon us and we are a different couple than we were even a year ago.

The best — albeit unsatisfactory — way I can think to describe it is that it felt like for the first decade or so of our marriage we were learning how to be a team. And maybe during the really tough games (read: seasons of life) we didn’t always like our teammate all that much. Maybe we passed the ball to them with just a little too much force in the hopes that it might sting a little when they caught it.

Slowly we started to figure out how to work together, though, and things seemed to chug along just a little more smoothly, day by day. We even started scoring the odd point here and there.

But then one day, it’s like God lifted the blinders from my eyes, and said, “See! Do you see this man? Aren’t you in awe of his skill? Of the way he carries this team? And protects you on the field? And doesn’t he look cute in his uniform?” (Not that the latter was news to me.)

So, you look, and at long last you see. And he sees. You see each other with all the love, charity, and affection that God always intended. (Or a good portion more of it anyway.) And you win at the championship game of love.

Sure, the game may have been rigged when God decided to ordain your victory. And yes, more challenging games are probably yet to be played. But when you have a teammate as amazing as yours? Bring it on, world. Bring it on. We’ve got this.

Maybe my somewhat flawed analogy doesn’t resonate with you at all. Perhaps you and your husband have been frolicking hand-in-hand through fields of dandelions from day one. But if you find yourself even the slightest bit demoralized by how very, very hard marriage can sometimes be, please don’t give up hope, sweet friends.

Your love story isn’t over yet.

{ 17 comments }

From a sweet reader:

“I’m going through a period of what I think of as “marital dryness”. My husband has a vastly different idea about marital romance and closeness than me and I’m afraid that area of my life is not at all fulfilling. Like I’m very much a “words of love” kind of person and he is just not. He is an action speaks louder than words kind of person and he says that saying nice romantic things to me feels fake. He flat out refuses to go to counseling (he doesn’t think he is doing anything wrong) and in general doesn’t feel like part of marriage is to make each other happy and tend to each other’s emotional needs. And the things he does consider to be flirting and playful I just don’t. I think of it as teasing and it just confuses me…

My husband is a good man and wonderful father and a good husband in a lot of ways, but I’m afraid in this way, I’m just going to have to accept that in this way we are never going to see eye to eye.”

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

What to do when your husband doesn't speak your love language.

God love you, sweet pea. This sounds so tough. I’ll share a few quick thoughts and then hopefully others will leave their pearls of wisdom in the combox. That would be the bee’s knees.

So, the first thing I wondered when I read your email was whether your husband has always been like this or if this is a new development? It sounds like it’s never been in his nature to be particularly romantic. If that’s true, the first tiny piece of advice I would offer is to take some time to reflect on the things that first made you fall in love with him. What were the things that in the beginning made you think, “I think I can give up a little romance for this guy!”?  Can you find a way to get back to that place? Some men are just the strong, silent, mysterious type (hello, John Wayne!) and there’s quite a lot to desire about that, too. (Wink, wink.)

If this is something new, I would take some time to examine whether he might currently be experiencing an unusual amount of stress. Stress can be such a romance killer. Is there a chance that if he wasn’t feeling so stressed he might be able to summon the extra energy his personality requires to woo you a little more? Hopefully recognizing that he is under an unusual amount of stress right now might bring you a little comfort (since it probably speaks to the fact that this too shall pass).

Once you’ve wrestled (and maybe made a little peace?) with whether your husband falls into category A or B, I would try the following, were I in your shoes:

 

Study the Five Love Languages

First, if you haven’t already, study the 5 Love Languages. (It sounds like you probably have already read the book but if not, Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages is excellent.) Why? Well, in the past, when Dan and I have seemed to be missing one another emotionally, it has helped me to consider his unique way of expressing love. There have been times when he’s offered me tokens of love but I missed seeing them because they were wrapped in packaging that I didn’t recognize. Once I became fluent in his love language it was like blinders had been taken off my eyes and suddenly I could see how our little marital world was illuminated with his small (and not-so-small) gestures of love.

Hand it Over to God

I do understand that simply learning to recognize the way he expresses love isn’t going to satisfy this longing in your heart for more romance, though. While it’s true, as the song says, that we can’t always get what we want, I firmly believe that romance is good for a marriage (and something every wife should get to experience), so don’t give up on that dream just yet.

God works miracles every day. I’ve seen it in my own marriage and I’ve seen it in the marriages of my friends. He renews, transforms, and pours new life into these marriages of ours every day. Give this trial to him. Place your pain in his hands. Yes, sometimes he does tell us ‘no’, but he also cares deeply about these longings of our hearts. Ask him to heal this. And to heal you.

Be Proactive

As for cultivating romance, sometimes we wives have to be proactive in getting what we want. In an ideal world, that husband of yours would come home from work with roses in his hands, a babysitter hot on his heels, and reservations to your favorite restaurant ready to go. Until that day arrives, though, I would encourage you to create opportunities for romance that might speak to his more reserved heart.

What is his favorite food? Maybe you could cook it up and eat it with him after the kids go to sleep (against a backdrop of candles, of course). Is he a sports fan? Could you surprise him with tickets to a game for just the two of you? Maybe he’s more of an intellectual. Sometimes Dan and I enjoy simply sitting on the couch together as we read our favorite books or work on our laptops. Just being together after a chaotic day can be surprisingly romantic. Again, it may not be ideal (and it’s not always fair) but could it be a start, perhaps?

Keep On, Keepin’ On

The last thing I would say is to keep being your sweet, romance-loving self. I imagine it might be tempting to batten down the hatches around your heart to protect yourself from disappointment but if at all possible, don’t. Put your faith in God and wait for Him to move. If God wants you to give up this desire he will tell you by replacing your longing with peace. Until he does that, continue to hope and keep pouring love into your union. The forces of evil want nothing more than to see you give up on your marriage. And we can’t have that can we, sweet friend?

 

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I don’t know if any of this helps at all and I know that right now everything probably feels very dark and full of despair. Though I’ve never experienced exactly what you describe, I have been through my own marital valleys and can understand why (as you mentioned in your email) you sometimes experience feelings of jealousy and bitterness. These valleys can be very lonely places. Hang in there, love, and keep in touch! I will be praying for you!

 

If anyone else has insight or advice that might help, please do leave it in the combox. Because of the sensitive subject, anonymity is welcome!

 

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