Returning to the Adventure of Doing Life Together

Returning to the Adventure of Doing Life Together

After eighteen years of marriage, my husband and I have this thing figured out. We know who takes out the garbage, who pays the bills, and who gives the little one a bath on which night. He is a night owl and I am an early bird. He likes to brew coffee and I like to drink it. I know he hates to fold clothes and he knows I hate to scrub the shower.

We make great roommates.

Married people should be more than roommates. It doesn’t have to be the Hollywood version of holy matrimony with flowers and googly eyes, but it can be more exciting than I am making it.

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
it’s jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.
(Song of Songs 8:6-7, NIV)

That sounds like a marriage full of adventure! It sounds like the kind of marriage we all hope for while standing on the altar, rings held tight by fingertips. It is the kind of marriage old married people like us remember and grieve.

wedding day

The early years of our marriage weren’t full of wild adventures. I was finishing my degree, and he started his first grown-up job. We had very little time and even less money. The adventure was the living together. It was learning how to share the load, being together in the ordinary moments, and making a dollar stretch. We saved for months to be able to buy our first VCR. I remember how excited we were to watch our first VCR rental while eating dinner on our laundry basket (turned upside down to make a table).

Once we both had full-time jobs and still no kids, we did get to venture out a little. We did the beach without needing a wagon to hold all of the toys and snacks. Just two lovebirds, two water bottles, and two towels. We bought a house together, built furniture together, and laid sod together. One of our most memorable adventures was a week at an ATP tennis tournament. We entered the complex before lunch to watch our favorite players while enduring 102° heat. I napped on David’s shoulder when the matches lasted past midnight.

baby claire

Babies drew us into a new kind of adventure. We spent hours admiring this beautiful thing we made together. We laughed at their funny faces and cried over their sleepless nights. We figured out how to discipline a toddler together. We dreamed about the people they would become as we saw their personalities begin to show.

Somewhere in there, we transitioned from together to side-by-side. It is a subtle difference—a dangerous distinction. We still sleep in the same bed and eat around the same table. Instead of fighting the battles of life together, we have a clock-in/clock-out mentality. As long as one of us can handle it, we don’t do it together. We are business partners, coworkers, roommates.

I take the blame for this. I am the independent sort. When life gets hard or people disappoint me, I shift into hyper-independence. If David lets me down, I cling to my belief that I don’t need him and I can do it myself. When I do this, I push him away. I choose the emotional safety of side-by-side over the adventure of together.

Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom.
(Song of Songs 2:15, NIV)

At the beginning of the year, I determined to fight for the hope of love. This has required some troubling introspection and some hard conversations. This work of choosing together is not for the faint at heart. It requires apologies, forgiveness, and a lot of grace. We are learning to do things together again—date nights, parenting, and even small talk. I have to be on guard against my defense mechanism of independence. I have to choose to draw him into the things I am accustomed to handling on my own.

When we have a together moment—that sweet spot of interdependence—it is holy. We become the picture of Christ and His bride, the church. Unity is a blazing fire igniting love, fidelity, and desire.

Are you enjoying the adventure of together with your spouse? I covet your prayers and encouragement as we work toward that again. Are you like us, afraid that your days of adventure are long gone? Fight for it. Dig and claw and determine to find together again.

I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go.
(Song of Songs 3:1 and 4, NIV)

Returning to the Adventure of Doing Life Together

 

I am linking up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday where she shares this truth about her great adventure: “The adventure is following Jesus wherever He leads.”

Photo credit: Vladimir Kudinov via Unsplash.

14 Comments

  1. Love this, Kelly. We celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary yesterday and it has been quite an adventure. Yet I know there were many seasons when we were, as you described, surviving side by side instead of doing life together. The difference is indeed subtle and the transition from one to the other almost imperceptible. Your vulnerability about your own struggle, which I share, of defaulting to independence, is prophetic and an encouragement to all of us to live with our eyes wide open. Thank you for your wise words!!

    • Happy anniversary, Kelly! I am so appreciative of the wisdom you share from a few steps down the path. It is true, the shift is imperceptible. It is important to be on the lookout.

  2. Together is one of my most favorite words. I’ve found myself using it often lately. I find myself proud and thankful that I can. There was a time when together was very “iffy”. Thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable, Kelly. I will be sharing this in my circles. I know it will be of great value and impact to other relationships.

  3. This is so great!! I had a wake up call a few years ago after reading Unveiled Wife. I had to learn to fight for (not against) us. It’s a life long process for me!

  4. Love the honesty in this post! It is easy to become complacent in marriage. Thank you for sharing! #livefree

  5. What a good and wise distinction. I may also be a tad independent. 😉 There is homework here for me!

  6. Oh boy, Kelly! We will have been married 33 years in June and before reading this I wouldn’t have been able to put my finger on how to describe our relationship but you did. This gives me a lot to think about. I have always had trust issues as my dad left whe we were young. Our mom brought us up to be fiercely independent. It has served me well in some ways and not so much in this case. I so admire you opening up and sharing your journey. Thank you, Cindy

    • That idea of clocking in and out really helped me draw a parallel to marriage. It is the 50/50 mentality. So easy to fall into it, especially for us independents.

  7. Another wonderful and inspiring post, Kelly! I can relate to the doing things side-by-side instead of together. We have been married almost 17 years, and with three kids, it is easy to fall into the routine of side-by-side or, worse, “I will just do it myself!” Thanks for the encouragement!
    Dana

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