This week, we reach a couple of significant milestones at the Flowers house: six months of blogging and 21 years of marriage.
In the grand scheme of life, one of these obviously is more noteworthy than the other. But before I talk about the truly important one, let me just say how thankful I am for you, the readers of this blog. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this journey last fall, and it’s been much more fun, challenging and rewarding than I ever imagined.
If you’ve been reading Waxing Gibbous for awhile and haven’t subscribed yet, I invite you to do just that. Simply enter your email address on the right sidebar (where it says “Follow Blog Via Email”) and click the “Follow” button. After you do that, these posts will start sliding quietly into your inbox about once a week.
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Now, as grateful as I am for the people who read my blog, I am exponentially more thankful for Randy—and not just because of his technical expertise in launching Waxing Gibbous for me six months ago. In honor of our 21 years of wedded togetherness, I’ll round out this post with two bits of advice, a realization and an analogy about marriage.
Two bits of advice
I remember one thing and one thing only from our pre-marital counseling. “When you want your husband to do something,” the pastor said, “ask him once and then leave it up to the Holy Spirit.”
That’s great advice, and very hard to follow (for me, anyway). But after all these years, I’m still trying.
A dear friend and mentor once shared another piece bit of wisdom that I’ve never forgotten: When it comes to venting and processing, tell your husband 25 percent and share the rest with God.
My friend didn’t mean we should stuff our feelings or intentionally keep things from our spouses. She did mean that much of what we might want to say to them—off the cuff or in the heat of the moment—is better left spoken only to God. I’m still working on this, too, but it definitely helps when I remember to do it.
Something happens in your heart and mind when you realize one of the most meaningful ways your husband has shown you love in the last few years has been in the way he has helped your octogenarian parents … kindly, without complaining, time and time again. By caring for them, he is loving me, and I love him for it.
There’s no end to the figurative language that people use to describe marriage. A quick internet search reveals that, depending on how you look at it, marriage is akin to: building a fire in the rain, two boards leaning on one another, constructing a house, a car without a warranty (which requires both partners to do most of the work themselves), a triangle or growing a temperamental plant.
I could go on and on (and include a lot more internet-generated snark) if I wanted to. But Randy thought of another analogy that I actually like much better (and not just because it involves the only grade-school field day event I was ever good at).
At this stage of our lives, marriage is like a three-legged race. When everything is in sync and working properly, it’s like a smoothly operating machine. But the rhythm that sometimes looks so effortless can get out of whack quickly, especially when there are significant differences in height and speed between the partners. It’s easy to trip and fall, to get tangled up. It takes effort to get upright and find that perfect pace again. And as much as you’d like it to be, the effort isn’t always equal. Sometimes, one half struggles so much that the other has to hoist her up somehow and carry her for awhile.
So what does it take for a three-legged race (and marriage) partnership to work? I’ve narrowed it down to four common factors: 1. Connection material that is secure and stable. 2. A commitment to stick together, no matter what. 3. Always going in the same direction. 4. A sense of humor.
Randy is seven inches taller than me. Our personalities, though similar in some ways, are also quite opposite. We have different ways of processing, different ways of handling stress, different ways of getting things done.
And yet, after 21 years, we’re still connected. We still fit. We’re still in this together.
Let the race continue.