Recently, Lee and I were browsing through a local bookstore. A pastime from what feels like days gone by. Certainly, a nostalgic activity for us to be sure. I recall early in our marriage we would look through albums and CDs at Tower Records in Bellevue. And other times looking at novels and bestsellers at Borders Bookstore in Lynnwood. Lee and I enjoy listening to music, our playlists are varied, meaningful and mark the passage of time and growth for us. We can truly say we are full of life.
We are both huge readers and enjoy sharing details from the books we each read. The two of us share a love for epic sagas. Lee teases me relentlessly about the ugly crying he witnesses while I am reading a Nicholas Sparks novel. In return, I remind him the commentators cannot hear him while he is yelling at the tv about a football game or a political debate.
A New Book on The Shelf
There is a mutual respect, share of laughter and a deep commitment rooted in our marriage. A truly blessed union we are often told by observers of our solid marriage. This is probably why both Lee and I were surprised to find myself reaching for a book entitled Unstuck – Escaping the Rut of a Lifeless Marriage while browsing the bookstore.
Now, I will clarify immediately Lee and I do not have a lifeless marriage. But the reality I have found during this past year is no union is safe. There is no safety from strife, heartache, ruts and wedges. And sadly, many marriages have crumbled under the pressures of this world.
If COVID 19 and the aftereffects have taught me anything is important things need to be cherished. And anything which distracts us from following Jesus should be eliminated from our daily lives. The scriptures remind us in Matthew 7:24-27 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
While our marriage is sturdy, I know we must both be diligent to care for our union so tiny cracks do not become huge canyons. For us this means dealing with the stuff we would sometimes rather ignore because we are tired, frustrated, or worse yet defeated.
The Moment Things Changed for All of Us
The coming days will mark the moment life changed for so many of us. Families have experienced some incredible challenges unlike any in past years. Never have we had an educational uproar such as children schooling from home on daily long zoom meetings. Seniors unable to graduate with their peers. Proms and school pictures, field trips and youth sports modified or canceled. Due to COVID 1900 rules our loved ones have died without family present.
This past year has been right out of what feels like an episode of The Twilight Zone or one of those dystopian Hollywood blockbuster movies. These past 12 months have been a surreal experience for me and my husband. Being transparent I will admit we have struggled communicating with one another. We have had difficulty adjusting to this “new normal.”
Embracing the New Workplace
Like Lee and I, couples have had to adapt to the working from home model instituted in the spring of 2020. A year later, my husband’s work monitors still take up our kitchen counters. His workday all encompasses a space which used to be quiet and cozy. His Thursday meetings are intense. Any frustrations or challenges with his workday are felt throughout the household.
I want to say I handled it all like a champion, but it would be a flat out lie. Looking back at some of my reactions to him in what I considered my daily space I find myself feeling embarrassed by my short sightedness. What started out as a mild annoyance has become a beautiful blessing. I love that my husband does not have a 2-hour daily commute. I am grateful he is present and available physically. And I am delighted for any opportunity to take an afternoon walk. So many good things have stemmed from him being home. Honestly, I do not look forward to the day he returns to working outside the house.
We Had to Adjust
The Braaten household has all adjusted and have come out stronger on the other side. I think of Proverbs 27:15-16 “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike: to restrain her is to restrain the wind or grasp oil in one’s right hand.” I see now my perspective needed to be adjusted.
Living our lives daily in a posture of gratefulness offers us opportunities to honor God and let Him take center stage. When both spouses seek God how can we not see the beauty of our partner. Change the way you see your mate and I promise your heart follows. We need God’s mercy and wisdom. Our marriage is a testament to God’s grace, mercy, and unending pursuit of our hearts. I would be naive to think Lee and I have weathered the storms of life in our own strength or abilities.
Leaning into scripture no matter the circumstances reminds us; God is ever present. Our desire should be to do what is right not get caught up in who is right in the current marital, family, or situational struggle. Psalm 19:4 says “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” And for us this means letting go of pride and frustration and focusing on God’s direction.
I am a prideful and arrogant human. Forgiveness is not my default setting. In God’s grace and mercy though I am growing and becoming something greater than I was before….less of me so there is more of Christ. And when there is more of Christ a lifeless marriage cannot exist.
On March 15th, Lee and Dea will celebrate 25 years of wedded bliss, trips to bookstores and a vast music library. A marriage full of life!
What was a change you had to make in the last year which caused great strain for those around you?
Looking back are you going to change things back as they were?
When reading Psalm 19:4 how are the “words of your and the meditations of your heart” helping or hindering the efforts to adapt to today’s new normal?