“Hear ye, hear ye! Come one, come all. Give me your tired and broken, and martially challenged.” Have I included everyone yet? LOL
I have to stop and laugh because the two hardest things you will probably ever do – be a spouse and be a parent – are two things that we usually go into without any training! Oh sure, we see other folks handle their marriages and parenting like pros. He brings her flowers every week, their children are born potty trained, and they are the do-gooders of the neighborhood. But the other 99.9% of us are lucky to just make it to the end of the week and remember where the potty is!
After stumbling through a first marriage, surviving the death of a spouse, raising two children alone, remarrying a man with a teenager and a daughter who had been married – had a child and had one on the way – and all living together, I may have just a small speck of experience to share with you. Bumps and bruises along the way are reminders of how not to do something the same way the next time … or just to not do it at all if there is a next time! So I’d like to hopefully gear you up with a little encouragement for you own battle (… ahem, I mean journey! Don’t want to scare anyone yet … :-)).
First off, you can be married to a rock. I have no idea how this thought came to form in my head, but the more I have thought about it through the years, the more I understand and believe it. I love river rocks. So many interesting colors and shapes but, to me, the beauty comes from the smoothness of them. This softening of the sharp and jagged edges didn’t just happen. It took years and years of being washed over with water from a river or stream. Continual washing. Diligence. Perseverance.
When Dan and I first married I guess you can say we had lots of jagged edges. We had both been hurt before and so were very careful to be on the defensive. Very eager to justify our wants and needs. Very wary of signs of doom and dysfunction within our new fragile union. We had stress. We had some volatile situations. But we both stayed. We both decided that there could be a way through the storm if we stuck together. We had to be creative. We sought outside help. We talked more and shouted less. We asked politely and stopped demanding.
Slowly and painstakingly, our own sharp and cutting edges began to soften. Each struggle we walked through washed away pain and built up beauty.
This is where so many couples miss the mark – they only rely on themselves and the little that they actually know about being married – and they give up all too quickly. Then they take their even more sharp and jagged rocks (themselves) and attempt to make a relationship work with the next person – who brings their own sharp, cutting and jagged rock into the marriage.
Point of my story is that only through time and hard work can the beauty of a marriage start to shine through. Just as the river will smooth and soften the edges of a rough and rugged rock, so will time and surviving the challenges of marriage soften you and your spouse. Then, you will discover the beauty that was just waiting to be worn down.
Let the river run …