A few years back, my wife and I were in the middle of searching for a new place to live. Our lease was up, and we had a few weeks to find a new address. We were procrastinating, but it was time to get serious with our search. One night while on the couch, we sat in another night of endless silence. The symbolic chasm seemed too deep to navigate. For years now that rift between us was growing wider. We routinely filled that gap with silence. Many times the silence speaks volumes about a marriage on the ropes.
I finally spoke up.
“What do you think about if our next place were separate places?”
The night didn’t go well from there. We separated and found different addresses.
Fast forward five years later, and my marriage is stronger than ever. Even after that moment when she removed her ring and placed on the kitchen island, there was still hope. Luckily, we found that hope together when so many couples don’t.
But I remember continuing to remind myself of a few simple things over and over again, which helped get my wife and I from where we were to closer to where we wanted to be.
You chose marriage
It’s almost too easy to focus on all the places in your marriage you wish were better. I wish we had better sex. I wish she prioritized me more. I wish it didn’t seem like we spoke different languages. I didn’t sign up for this drama. Actually, yes you did. I did. We all did. Unless you’re involved in an arranged marriage, you chose this life. You chose this commitment – voluntarily. Regardless if not going the way you expected it to, no one made you do this. And I challenge you to find one successfully married couple who’s life has gone according to expectations. Individuals in successful marriages learn how to bend, so they don’t break. I had to remind myself that as a grown man, I needed to do my best to make choices that were in line with the obligation I made to another human being.
You chose each other for a reason
At one time, there was hope. Almost anything is possible as long as there’s a foundation of hope. For some couples, all they ever had was hope. I had to remind myself we chose one another over almost everything else in our lives.
At one time, we chose to spend time with one another rather than spend that time with anyone else. Why was that? Why did we choose one another? Why did she choose me? Why didn’t I feel the same anymore? Why is it important I felt chosen by her? By anyone at all?
Knowing why a person does anything rather than nothing is a practice in awareness. How many of us are self-aware before we dedicate ourself to another human being for life? In spite of our youthful naivety, there’s still a reason I wanted to give myself away. I had to understand our “why” better. I had to know why I was so ready to voluntarily serve this person for a lifetime.
You can only control yourself
If there was one simple message I repeated to myself more than anything else, it was that I could only control my actions. I can influence, suggest, communicate, empathize with other people, but a grown person can’t make another grown person do anything. A wife can’t make her husband do anything, nor can man do the same for his wife.
Genuine motivation is intrinsic. At the end of the day, we end up doing whatt we want to do anyway. I realized that I needed to lead by example. And even if that example was to show more effort, then I had to be in control of my effort regardless of what was happening around me. I would need to rely on hope and communication to get us the rest of the way.
More than five years later, and we’re still working on it. However many of us never truly change until we’re on the edge of disaster. I’m grateful we had our moment and hope you other men out there have some core reminders you can repeat to yourself during the hard months and years.
Because if there is one guarantee, it is that every successful marriage is bound to face their own challenging years. But how you control your thoughts and actions will bring you to the other side of those years. Like myself, I hope the other side is the cool side of your marriage’s pillow.
BMWK, were you ever once at a crossroad in your marriage? How did you get things back on track?