Marriage Reflections

20140704_205157-1No disrespect intended to those couples who say the best years of marriage were when they had nothing but love, staring into each others eyes in that first, tiny apartment, only peanut butter and jelly in the cupboard, but as I celebrate 26 years of marriage I’m thinkin’ the best years are yet to come.

After all, as love grows so does joy. And if those bare cabinet days don’t separate, they bind. Tight.

Reflections are strange sometimes. There is much good to celebrate today–and I do–but I find my musings today have taken an unexpected twist.

I’m thinking of what we DIDN’T do instead of what we did.

In those years of lack and hardship we didn’t blame each other.

When one of us struggled–with life, faith, forward movement–we didn’t give up on each other.

When people came against us, throwing conflict and discontent into relationships we didn’t allow them to divide us.

When grief sometimes silenced one of us, even immobilized for a time, we didn’t push each other to get over it.

When there were problems we didn’t ignore them. We also didn’t rush the fixing process.

When one of us succeeded we didn’t get jealous.

When life grew hard we didn’t look for greener pastures.

When opportunities came for a spouse we didn’t hold them back. We also didn’t let opportunities rob us of our priorities for each other and the children.

We didn’t compare our jobs or roles or claim we worked harder than the other.

We didn’t expect the other person to be our only person. We also didn’t expect love to grow between us without giving it a lot of attention.

We didn’t assume the other person made hurtful choices out of a desire to hurt.

We didn’t set unrealistic expectations of each other.

We didn’t do any of the above perfectly. And, perhaps most important, we didn’t expect each other to.

Early on my sweet Jerry taught me the value of trusting each other’s heart. When I was (much) less than perfect in my efforts to love him, or when I struggled with choices he often told me, “Honey, I trust your heart.”

Over the years I learned that if we had that core belief–that the other person always, at the heart level, wanted the best, we could weather a lot of stuff. Mistakes became simply mistakes instead of a premeditated attempt to wound. Conversations became about understanding perspective instead of assuming conflict and duking it out.

I (eventually) discovered that I often let my anger grow toward my husband not because I was truly upset but because once I got hurt I imagined what he was thinking or feeling toward me. As I made assumptions my anger and self-justification escalated. Soon a full-blown battle was raging inside of my head. When I learned to ask Jerry if he was actually thinking those things his look of shock taught me that I could imagine far more conflict and condemnation than he came up with on his own.

So, as I grew, I didn’t make assumptions about what he thought or felt. Instead, I trusted his heart and asked questions to clarify.

We’ve weathered a lot of stuff, my man and me. We’ve seen more joy than any couple edit j adn p 1 (2)deserves, and we’ve had more disappointment and pain than we ever wanted to experience or would invite again. But when I think back to early days I don’t long for something we’ve lost. What we had then has only grown and reshaped itself, not disappeared.

I’m sure there are things we DID do that helped our love mature, but I can’t help but believe it was the things we didn’t do that kept our marriage from self-sabotage.

And so it is maybe largely in part to the “didn’ts” that I can’t wait for the next year of marriage and the next and the next. I think since we didn’t give into blame on those empty cupboard days (and I’m not just talking finances here) that as our days are rich they will be richer. We won’t take the good for granted because we know the bad. And (I hope) we won’t let the bad send us as quickly to despair because we have walked hard days and come out on the other side together. Stronger.

One.

So it is with great gratitude I celebrate 26 years of NOT doing and wait in eager anticipation for the love and joy to come.

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14 thoughts on “Marriage Reflections

  1. Kelly Grace June 11, 2015 at 9:57 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on A Really Full Life and commented:
    Is it what you do or don’t do that matters most in marriage? Before I read this post I’d have said what you do matters most. Now I’m rethinking that.

    Paula has shared the things she and her husband didn’t do that have helped them successfully navigate 26 years of marriage!

    One thing Paula shared is that they trust each others’ heart. That’s crucial and it’s an area that I think Satan tries to attack. Practice that kind of solidarity and you’ll be spared a lot of evil influence designed to rob you of the joy and oneness God intended.
    Thanks Paula 😉

    • Paula Moldenhauer June 11, 2015 at 10:23 pm Reply

      Kelly! Thank you for the reblog as well as the thoughtful response! Blessings!

  2. Kelly Grace June 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm Reply

    Such goodness and wisdom in this Paula. Thank you for sharing the recipe for your secret sauce!

  3. Mel June 11, 2015 at 11:11 pm Reply

    Love this post! Thank u for sharing 🙂

  4. » Marriage Reflections June 11, 2015 at 11:41 pm Reply

    […] Marriage Reflections […]

  5. Rebekah June 11, 2015 at 11:53 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Hidden With You and commented:
    Had to share.

  6. realchange4u June 12, 2015 at 2:32 am Reply

    Wow what a testimony of love. To think people want love right up front. Paula you and Jerry are to be congratulated for sticking it out when a lot of folks have given up. We always said the good the bad and the ugly all make your love grow stronger. If you will let it. I pray blessings upon the remainder of your years together and may joy always surround your family. Congratulation on your 26th wedding anniversary.

    All our love Tom and Carolyn

    • Paula Moldenhauer June 12, 2015 at 2:41 am Reply

      Ah, Tom. Give your sweet Carolyn a hug. I’ve never met her, but I know she’s wonderful from knowing who you are and how you talk of her. Thanks for your kind words and for the reblog. It is deeply appreciated. As is your faithful friendship. So glad I met a fellow Okie here in blogland.

  7. realchange4u June 12, 2015 at 2:34 am Reply

    Reblogged this on realchange4u and commented:
    Paula and Jerry have a recipe that is sure to yield a better marriage and relationship. I so loved this post and wanted to share it with all of you. Thanks Paula for the encouragement and happy 26 years of marriage.

  8. paulfg June 12, 2015 at 3:55 am Reply

    Dear Paula – I have heard a picture is worth a thousand words. Having read this beautiful piece – I have to disagree. You words are worth a thousand pictures!

    ((hugs))

    • Paula Moldenhauer June 12, 2015 at 7:08 pm Reply

      As usual you bring a huge grin to my face, Paul. Blessings!

  9. Marie Keates June 18, 2015 at 9:44 pm Reply

    What a lovely post Paula. I hope you have many more happy years to come 🙂

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