Doin' It Halfway Since 1996

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Tag Archives: Marriage

The Marriage Montage

A couple years ago, hubs and I decided to take advantage of one of the Army’s perks – a free marriage retreat. While the retreat itself was planned down to the very minute (a plus for military-minded people, but a total drag for a Type-B personality like me), there were some good things that came from it.

Besides some honest discussion about the state of our relationship, one of the “activities” we did was the marriage montage. For a mission-minded organization like the Army, no endeavor (even marriage) should be undertaken without a mission statement. As it was described to us, a marriage montage is a pictorial depiction of our marriage. Most people drew pictures of their families. However, this is what we drew.

It’s a little hard to read, and we only had about ten minutes to complete it. It’s drawn in crayon on simple white card stock. It has a few food stains from being posted in the kitchen. But the gist of it is this: Our marriage is rooted in God/Jesus Christ/Holy Spirit. We (T & C) will grow together “Through all life’s seasons” (taken from our vows). The tree is half in bloom, and half bare. In “life’s seasons” we seek to (from left to right) live healthy – enjoying each other fully (intimately and intellectually), positively impact and find contentment in the lives we touch, Love each other more than we love ourselves, share mutual love and respect, and persevere through the winter together. At the foot of the tree is the “fruit”, which represents our children with the goal being to raise healthy, God-fearing, productive children.

As I previously mentioned, one of the more poetic phrases in our marriage vows was, “I will love you through all of life’s seasons.” Can I tell you that when we wrote our vows we didn’t realize that it was more than just Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter? It also includes Tsunami season, Hurricane Season, and Tornado season. In fact, our marriage has also had its fair share of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, even though there are no seasons for those. We were just two crazy kids in love, with the knowledge that marriage was hard (but without a crystal ball).

At the time we drew our montage, we had an extra child staying with us for an undetermined amount of time. We were knee-deep in several life stressors: a new high responsibility job, new child, postpartum depression, and a new car payment (had to get a bigger rig for the extra child staying with us). Finally, we were melting off the dregs of a long, cold Alaskan winter. Suffice it to say, we were in the midst of a somewhat difficult time in our family and marriage. Things were still yet to get a little worse before they got better.

I have often wanted to revisit our marriage montage and take a little bit more time to include some other ideals/goals for our marriage. I like this simple representation that we began. I think we started well in the ten minutes we had three years ago on a cold Saturday in the Alaskan ski retreat. However, there’s more to our story and so much has happened since we drew this together. And I don’t think we had nearly enough time to draw a proper tree.

Maybe we can work on it the next time we have a date night (whenever that may be).

Have you ever thought about what picture would best represent your marriage if you had to draw one? What would it look like?

I forgot

Squeals of delight as the Daddy Monster emerges and chases the Princess Daughters through the hallway into their bedroom, scaring them in the fun way that only daddies can do. They playfully run away, knowing full well that Daddy can and will catch them and tickle them ad nauseum. But still they run, half hoping that their small legs will carry them faster than his bum knee will him. Hugs and kisses. Giggles from upstairs.

I sigh. Bliss.

I’ve missed it. I’ve failed to see it. My heart has been hardened by the bitterness of his new job and his long working hours. I’ve been numbing myself with peanut butter cups and Netflix, telling myself that it’s okay to be angry all the time because circumstances are less than satisfactory.

I’ve let my mind give way to irrational thoughts, unforgiving attitudes, hurtful diatribes circling my brain.

Stewing. Brooding. Seething.

I’ve tried to hide it under the guise of dutiful wife and mother. I’ve called it perseverance and patience and submission. But it’s more like what my communications professor called gunny sacking, throwing the little pebbles and rocks of discontent into the emotional bag hanging over my shoulder until it’s so weighted the poison inside pours out and infects everything it touches.

A few days of self-loathing. Tears. Heartache. Some hurtful words. A discussion. Prayer.

Our marriage, our relationship, preserved and protected by grace. If it weren’t for grace, we’d just be a couple of people caught up in the rat race of life hurting and hurting each other. But for grace, the would be unhappily married couple moves forward, trusting that he’s not finished with what he’s started – both in us individually and as a couple.

I have forgotten how I waited for fifteen months for him to come home from war. How I longed for his companionship, his embrace, his kiss. I forgot that I prayed fervently for his safe and swift return. I forgot how I would have given just about anything to have him home for just one day. Now he comes home everyday and I don’t appreciate it. I take it for granted.

I’m a girl and sometimes I get caught in the ebb and flow of my emotions. It doesn’t excuse me from bad behavior. It doesn’t make my sin any less sinful. If anything, it takes me to the end of myself where I find the tattered rags and remember to fall to my knees.

The marriage of two fallen, imperfect humans gives way to an imperfect marriage.

But I believe and trust that God makes all things new. ALL things. Including our earthly marriage.

P.S. I did read this to my husband and made sure he was okay with me posting this. He said, “I love it. Post it.”

Why I Heart Christmas: The Husband Edition

If you missed Parts I and II of this four-part post on “Why I Heart Christmas”

Click Here for Part I, A Little Background

Click Here for Part II, The Sibling Edition

I love my Hubs. He’s so great. We just celebrated eight years of wedded bliss last month. And while that doesn’t sound like a lot, we’ve ventured further than many couples have. We’ve weathered many storms into which some would never dare to sail. Our waistbands are a little bigger and we have a few more wrinkles. But, for the grace of God, we’re chuggin’ along like a well-oiled machine. My hubs isn’t as enthusiastic as I am when it comes to Christmas. He’s had some cruddy Christmases. However, he loves me, so he lets me blare Christmas music in the house (and he sometimes even pretends to like it). He’ll sit through “White Christmas” if I give him puppy dog eyes (and then promise to watch Rambo or Terminator or Star Trek or Lord of the Rings). He’ll even eat the sugar cookies when I bake them. He’s such a trooper.

He was a Black Friday virgin, and I broke him in. Some of his favorite purchases in past years include a set of walkie talkies (that was before smart phones), a 40-inch Sony television, and then later, the 32-inch he purchased for his upcoming knee surgery. We don’t tend to Black Friday together (yes, I just turned a noun into a verb). Our plan of attack is divide and conquer, which we usually do. Being a former military man, he’s good at logistics and tactical advantages.

In our ten plus years as a couple, we’ve had many memories. Here are a few from this time of the year.

My first Christmas as a married woman was interesting. We had planned to divide our time between families. Pretty routine. However, on December 23, a huge snow storm hit the area where we lived. While a snow storm of that particular proportion wouldn’t cause us to fret now (having lived in Alaska has made us snow-driving experts), at the time, it caused great concern. My husband is from a warm, southern state and didn’t have much experience driving on snow and ice. No businesses are open on Christmas Eve, especially not small town gas stations that lined the road in which we were about to travel. We had planned to leave on Christmas Eve. I was supposed to work, but ended up not going in partly because I was sick, and partly because the roads were so bad. By the time we left our apartment, it was 6 p.m. It’s usually about a five and a half hour drive to my parents’ home. We packed our things, including our geriatric and insane beagle, stopped at Sonic to grab a bite to eat, and headed out in the Winter Wonderland with uncertainty in our tiny, two-seater, rear-wheel drive Toyota pick-up. There are a few things to mention here. Our dog smelled like butt all the time, even after a bath. She sat curled up at the bottom of my seat, so I had no leg room. Missouri is not the best at road maintenance, so the roads were awful. We were both very stressed and anxious, so we fought most of the way. I got confused because the snow made the surroundings unfamiliar and I told my husband to turn down the wrong road, which led us about thirty minutes out of the way (this was pre-GPS, which I don’t think I can live without now). While this doesn’t sound like a very nice memory, it always makes me smile and laugh when I think about it. We were so young and in love and stupid. What kind of idiots go out on bad roads on Christmas Eve, knowing full well that if something happens during the travels, they’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to help? Apparently us. Thankfully, God was watching over us and we made it safely to my parents’ home at 2 a.m. where we were greeted with open arms and a warm bed. My husband told me that the whole ordeal was worth it because my mom’s first words to him were, “Thanks for bringing my daughter home for Christmas.” We haven’t learned our lesson, though. Just recently we packed the kids in the car and took an overnight road trip. We’re gluttons for punishment, I guess.

Then there was the Christmas he was away. At war. In Iraq. A deployment changes things. It made me appreciate things I had taken for granted. While I sat around the fire pregnant with our second child and enjoying the festivities with my family, hubs was far away, living a very different every day life. That Christmas, behind the woman who was opening presents and smiling, was a worry. A worry that the holidays brought more fighting and more danger to the other half of my heart who was so far away. A worry that I may never have Christmas with my husband again. Thankfully, he did come home 11 months later. Others didn’t. And even though it’s been three years since the deployment, and even though he doesn’t say anything, I know that he thinks of his soldiers on each holiday we celebrate, including Christmas. We don’t have to say a word. I smile knowingly, grab his hand and kiss his cheek. It’s my way of telling him, “I’ll hold your hand while you miss them. I’m thankful for every day I get to spend with you.” Here’s a little sidenote/exhortation: The Christmas he was deployed (and the entire deployment really) opened my eyes to the reality that life’s too short to spend on petty differences. Take time to appreciate your loved ones. Let them know you care. Write a note. Give a hug. Say, “I love you.” Even when it’s hard to do. ESPECIALLY when it’s hard to do. Life is fragile and fleeting. Don’t take those moments for granted.

The next Christmas, after coming home from Iraq with a torn ACL and having knee surgery shortly after, we decided to still fly home. A flight home from Alaska with a two year old, a nine month old and a gimpy husband with a knee brace and crutches isn’t pleasant. It’s worse than a day-long trip in the car. Trust me. I’ve done both. I prefer the car. But he needed to see family. He had to see family after all he had been through. So we braved it. My father-in-law had ice for his knee as soon as we got in the car at the airport. I think we were still going through the transition period of the homecoming (it takes about six months, and even then, nothing is the same). I don’t remember too much about that Christmas except for his resolve to get home.

That was the last time we spent time with family during Christmas. The last two years we were “stuck” in Alaska, but made the most of it sharing our Christmases with good friends. This year, we’re back in the lower 48 and have plans to celebrate with family once again.

Which leads me to the 4th and final post of this “series”, New Traditions. This year has been so much fun because Firstborn Diva Child and Drama Queen Middle Child are so excited for Christmas. They begged to put up the tree. They picked out our outdoor decorations. Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Come back tomorrow for “Why I Heart Christmas: New Traditions” to see what our young family is doing this year to celebrate the coming of the King!

%d bloggers like this: