Do you ever feel restless in marriage?
Every Friday I like to run a “Marriage Moment”, a 400-word inspirational piece with one thought about marriage. This week’s is on coming to terms with where you are in life.
Sheila’s Marriage Moment: When You’re Restless in Marriage (and in Life)
When I turned 39 my husband managed to surprise me. He knew he couldn’t pull off a surprise party when I hit 40; so he threw a “Forever 39” party instead.
My best friend had created a scrapbook of my life, and as I looked through it, I stopped as I hit the picture of 23-year-old me in my graduation cap and gown, after finishing my second Master’s degree. That smiling face looking up at me had so many plans–a Ph.D., a career, published papers.
Instead I was a homeschooling mom who wrote on the side. My days were filled with making dinner and laundry and chauffeuring kids to piano, while I occasionally spoke at retreats on weekends. Were my dreams dead?
Many of us feel restless because we haven’t achieved our dreams, but I think what we miss is that we are not the same people who dreamed them. I was not fresh out of graduate school with visions of Toronto skyscrapers in my head. I was a small town mom with a tent trailer.
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but the dreams should be about looking forward, not looking back. When I hit forty, I didn’t achieve many of the things I thought I would. But I achieved different things. True peace comes not when we tick off everything on our life’s to-do list; it comes when we get comfortable in our skin, make choices that reflect our values and who we are, and then live out those choices, in the nitty gritty, day by day.
This week I learned about another marriage I know splitting up. I thought back to the similarities between that split and several others close to me, and there’s a common theme. The moms had never made peace with this idea that it’s okay to have new dreams.
That leaves us feeling restless, like we’re not quite where we’re supposed to be. That’s so hard on a marriage. You start blaming your husband for stealing something from you.
Let’s keep the right perspective. It’s not about looking backwards. It’s not even about looking forwards! It’s about, everyday, asking, “is this where I’m supposed to be?”. Maybe your life doesn’t look like your original plans. Maybe you thought you’d be further ahead by now; married differently; or had more (or fewer!) kids. Maybe you thought you’d live somewhere else, have your own house, be financially stable.
God doesn’t measure your life by how much you lived up to your plans. He measures your life by whether you’re living for Him in the little things. When you feel restless, don’t take that to mean your marriage is somehow wrong. Maybe you just need to dream new dreams, based on the person God’s made you today. And that’s perfectly okay.
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The BALANCE is HARD
So this has been a weird week at the blog, because I’m always trying to find that balance when I’m making suggestions about relationships–that balance between what you would do in a healthy (or semi-healthy) relationship, and what you would do in an emotionally abusive (or abusive in some other way) relationship.
Because the problem is that people who are in abusive relationships are often desperate to help their marriages, but they don’t often realize that they’re in an abusive relationship. But in those types of relationships, regular advice is exactly the WRONG thing to follow.
I’ve been following Visionary Womanhood for quite some time, and we’re kind of online buddies. Natalie, who writes there, has gone through quite the life upheaval in the last few years. I knew some of it; yesterday she began telling her story for real, about realizing that her marriage was truly abusive. It’s important.
Then I wrote two posts about when your husband won’t change. I meant those posts not exactly for people in emotionally abusive relationships. I meant them more for people married to men who are immature and lacking empathy, but who may still have goodwill (which is absolutely usually the case).
But I didn’t mean to imply that if your husband bugs you horribly in one area of your life that you need to fight to the mattresses. It’s more a pattern of lack of empathy than it is an issue in one area. But I hope that people were helped anyway!
The truth is that everyone’s marriage is different, and if we can keep the bigger picture in mind–that we’re to love mercy, act justly (stand up for what’s right), and find the balance by walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8), then things will tend to become clearer.
I write about all of this in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, so if you’re struggling like that today, I’d strongly recommend getting the book! I think it can help you sort out your motivations and give you some ideas of how God wants you to respond in different situations!
Too Many Marriages Are Breaking Up
As I shared in this week’s marriage moment, I know of another marriage that I would have thought was rock solid breaking up–and in this case emotional abuse is not a factor. Just makes me so sad. When my daughter and I were talking when we were together in Nashville this week, we talked about all the marriages in our community that have failed in the last few years, and all that look in trouble, and I’m never sure what to do. Should I call and say, “Hey, if you need to talk, we’d love to talk with you guys?” Should I intervene? It seems really nosy, but at the same time, maybe if we all intervened more we could help people more. I don’t know.
What We Did in Nashville
So Katie and I were in Nashville last week filming some videos with Blimey Cow, a really big channel on Youtube that’s right in her niche! Here’s the first one she was in:
and here’s the collaboration one she did with Jordan Taylor:
Then we did a road trip to see some friends, ate in downtown Nashville (barbeque of course), and visited Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
And I want you all to understand the significance of what I am about to tell you.
Take a deep breath. Get ready for it.
At Biltmore Estate, they have a new exhibit. And that exhibit is THE ACTUAL WEDDING DRESSES from historical movies. So they had the actual Pride & Prejudice dress and the actual dresses from Sense & Sensibility and Emma and so many more.
We almost died.
How amazing is that? Sigh.
Oh, and what’s up with all the Waffle Houses at every single exit in the south? It’s kinda strange. We actually went to one, just to check it out. The waffles weren’t bad, honestly. But every single exit?
Now I’m home, and it’s cold. And my skin is getting dry again. I was away for a whole month, and it’s nice to be in my own bed again. We’re still booking for Girl Talk in Alberta and in the eastern states as we drive our RV home in April, though, so email me if you’d like to be included in the tour!
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