The best marriage advice I received was early on: “relationships are like a dance, to grow you have to learn and adjust your steps.” Every season is like a new song, sometimes you can move with ease or your partner can. Other moments you both seem to have left feet and desperately need some aid on the dance floor. Regardless of the song, when you’ve found someone you want to keep dancing with you figure it out along the way.
For the last two years we’ve been in a season of a lot of new steps and many forgotten ones that I’ve had to relearn. As much as I love watching other couples, my biggest “couple goals” have always been my own…but it hasn’t been easy. After coming alongside my husband in ministry, many areas that we had suppressed, ignored, and put a do not disturb sign on came full force in our faces. Going from seeing each other for maybe three hours total (working two different jobs and schedules) to now being side by side almost the full 24…it’s been a serious adjustment!
These last two years of our marriage have been unique as our love and commitment have required far more actions than words. When the arguments have gotten ugly and the space between us has felt like a thousand miles emotionally – my heart’s intentions had to step up their game. Nothing is solved in a day, but as we learn, grow, and mend some broken areas I’ve noticed 3 changes we’ve made in this new dance:
1. Acknowledging where things are at: Because it’s better to feel the sting of truth rather than the heartbreak of a lie. Though we can laugh now, we couldn’t a few months ago when we both realized “this should be a safe place, but it’s not.” Processing that we both were on edge in the majority of our conversations always caused a sense of walking on eggshells. Truth was somewhere a hurt or offense began to crack our safe haven between us. Before we knew it everything was heard, seen, and felt through a distorted lense. Acknowledging and speaking truth to one another has rebuilt simple trust in our communication and safety…it’s a daily practice I know we must stay committed to.
2. Make the time: It’s the kids. It’s your job. I’m tired…we all know the excuses, so we don’t have to make the time. Saying yes to everything and everyone else made it so easy for me to say no to Mike and vice versa. Time is precious and the best way it’s spent is cultivating your most important relationships. Understanding that all really good things take time…your time. Push yourself to make the effort if you want it to work. So making time to spend without kids, making time to find areas of interest, making time to have sex (indeed – that as well), all of those things are so vital for both of us. As we’ve made it a priority my radar can sense now when we haven’t… which is a good thing.
3. Identify and Practice ONE area of common ground: If Mike were writing this it would be sex haha. And truth is if that’s your starting point in your marriage to help things get back in place, then by all means go for it! But in all seriousness for us it’s prayer. Our own spiritual walks are what brought us together and it’s our strongest common ground – our love for Jesus Christ. So we start there, and it doesn’t always look like long devotionals or time spent on our knees praying. It’s looked like conversations about podcasts, articles, a book we read together, or even what God may be sharing with us personally. Intentionally talking about something we both enjoy starts to open doors for us to talk about other things. Like the days when you could talk on the phone for hours…remember those? Yeah, I don’t remember what we talked about at all, but I can recall the feeling of not wanting it to end. Practicing and finding something you both can do reminds you that you both actually like each other before this season. For us it’s unveiled areas we didn’t realize were a common ground! But practice is so key.
Though not everyone believes in soulmates, I do believe that when you choose to dance and take a journey alongside someone else you mean it. You choose that person, because it makes sense in more areas of your life than you can count. In our truthful moments we’ve both wanted to quit and walk off the dance floor…it’s not been easy, but intentionally changing has become easier as we practice it.
I pray whether it’s your best season or worst while you step on each other’s toes that you’re encouraged and try at least one of these three for yourself. All good things are worth trying and I’m a firm believer that this is worth trying.