My Fight with the Captain & Why my Marriage Needs Help
“Great Marriages Don’t Just Happen”... I read the understatement of the century. “Well, Thanks”, Captain Obvious! You’ve simultaneously discouraged me and insulted my intelligence in 5 words.
Of course great things take work. (Duh!)
You’ve said nothing profound, Captain O.
I know if I want a weedless garden, it must be weeded.
I know if I want a clean house, it must be cleaned.
I know if I want a washed window, it must be washed.
I know if I want to harvest crops, they must be planted.
I know if I want obedient kids, then I must teach.
The Olympian must train.
The workout must make me sweat.
Practice takes time.
Learning takes discipline.
See Captain O, I’m on to you. Of course great things don’t happen on their own.
“Terrific!”, says O, “Then I assume you’ve weeded, cleaned, washed, planted, taught, trained, taken time, used discipline, and have broken a sweat for your marriage?”
Well no… I’m very busy, you see. Life is so full. The work hours are so long. There just isn’t much time at the end of the day amongst all the REAL weeding and washing and planting and…..
“Oh - ok… so you’re just expecting a spontaneously great marriage?”, smiles Captain O.
No - I just think it would be easier if my job was different, or my kids were easier, or my husband was more attentive, or my house was less crazy or my kids would clean up after themselves, or I didn’t have to work two jobs… THEN I could work on my marriage.
“But didn’t you just tell me that great things take work?” says O, unamused.
Tooshay my Obvious friend; Tooshay.
If you’re like me, you’ve wrestled here before.
Just because we *know* something, doesn’t always mean we live that way.
If you’re like me, there's a pretty large gap between the obvious and reality.
So if “Great Marriages Don’t Just Happen” what can we do about that?
As I write this, it is Friday morning, November 5th.
Jonathan and I are heading out today to attend the Weekend to Remember marriage conference because “Great Marriages Don’t Just Happen” so we better roll up our sleeves.
I thought maybe you’d like to come with us. Maybe watching us roll up our sleeves will help you roll up yours.
Sometimes all we need is a little nudge.
Because Great Marriages Don’t Just Happen.
So…. Let’s go together. You, me, Jonathan, and I guess we’ll bring Captain Obvious with us.
Will this be easy? Nope.
Do you realize how much prep I’ve had to do for the last 2 weeks? How about what I have to finish in the next 5 hours? We are going to HUSTLE… first I have to finish packing the kids, then I *get to* host my weekend milk customers, then I have to make and pack food because Jonathan and I have some diet constraints right now, ....and then about 15 other things ;)
Would staying home be easier? You bet your bottom!
I started prepping weeks ago, having to shuffle around volunteer and work obligations.
But no one ever said greatness was going to be easy.
So let’s go together…
We’ll see you in a bit… Maybe between milk customers I’ll have time to get a few more thoughts down.
-- There’s someone now… driving in my driveway… talk to you later! :)
Friday: Between customers :)...
Let’s talk about priorities for a minute.
I don’t think there is anyone who *wants* to have a struggling marriage.
If given the choice, I think we’d all choose the fantastic marriage.
...But I’d choose 6 pack abs too if I didn’t have to do the work for them
Wanting something great but being unwilling to work for it is pretty silly when you think about it. We’d all laugh at our kids sitting in the middle of a messy room *wishing* for a clean one. Get up and clean it then, silly head! The solution is VERY obvious ---- when you’re outside the situation.
That’s the problem. Situations make excellent clouds. We always think that our situation is unique, or that we are the exception… but are we?
What does greatness require?
Are we planning and working towards a great marriage, or are we just hoping for the best?
Friday Afternoon - Car Ride to Sioux Falls
The car ride was terrific.
The best part? - Talking! … If you’ve known me for 2.5 seconds, you know I think kids are great.
But guess what momma?! YOU NEED *adult* conversation with your spouse apart from your kids.
Trying to have an adult conversation while kids are in the car is like stuttering for my brain. If you have kids, you know EXACTLY what I’m … “MOOOOOMMMM She’s Touching me!!”… talking about. Sometimes I feel like I … “MOOOOOOOMMMM I’m hungry!!”... can’t even get a …. “MOMMMM are we there yet?” … complete thought ...“MOMMMM he’s eating crayons!!!!”... out of my ….” MOMMMMM I have to go to the bathroom NOWWWW… head.
Can I get an AMEN?!?!
Hear me: I THINK KIDS ARE TERRIFIC… but you know what the VERY best thing you can do for your kids? Work on your marriage.
Friday Evening: Opening Session
Talk about a truth bomb… and a blow up.
We sit down at the conference, and within 15 minutes are challenged with this phrase:
“No Marriage is Static: You’re either paddling towards oneness, or you’re drifting toward isolation” … “Almost no one is foolish enough to imagine that he automatically deserves great success in any field of activity; yet almost everyone believes that he automatically deserves success in marriage.” (Sydney Harris)
Within the first hour, the truth bomb blew up
The speakers gave us a 1-10 scale to gauge our feelings from isolation to oneness and asked us to individually rate where we think our marriage is. Let’s just say our numbers were different (which is normal), but neither of us realized how different they would be.
In all honesty, this was the hardest part of the weekend.
When you think something is one way, and you find out it is another, it becomes a pretty mixed bag of emotions. There is a level of shock, and disbelief, and frustration, and sadness. The conference speakers saw this coming for all the couples, so they were prepared to walk us through it. (this isn’t their first rodeo -they do this conference with hundreds of thousands of couples)....
Maybe you’re there too. Maybe you feel a whole lot more isolated in your marriage than your spouse. Let me encourage you with how the speakers encouraged us:
There are three options when marriage dreams or expectations aren’t being met.
Give up on our dream (Which is just selling out on what you wanted)
Get out and find a new dream (Which doesn’t actually work)
Grab hold of a better dream
Here’s my question: Who doesn’t want better? ...we ALWAYS want better!
Options 1 and 2 involve a lot of pain and heartache. Option 3 really is the only option where we win. Option 3 is the “idea that God has a bigger vision for our marriage and life than we probably had for ourselves.” His idea for marriage is in fact BETTER than anything we could have dreamed up, and certainly FAR better than the “Quit now” culture that we’re being sold.
As the conference explained, culture's "blueprint" for marriage is completely wrong.
Culture says love is something you find, fall into and live happily ever after with. There is no work involved.
MUCH the opposite, your marriage actually “...Moves toward a state of isolation… Unless you lovingly and energetically nurture your marriage, you will begin to drift away from your spouse.” (Dennis & Barb Rainey). This is NOT what culture is selling! Culture tells us that when it’s hard, jump ship.
Can you imagine if we sold that lie in other areas?
“Ok kids, repeat after me: If something is hard, JUST GIVE UP!!”
If that workout makes you sweat? - Quit!
If that math problem makes you think? - Quit!
If you don’t want to eat healthy - Don’t!
If you’d rather not take out the trash - Don’t!
Sounds a little but like the world we live in today, doesn’t it?
Great things require sweat 99.9% of the time… so why sell the lie that we don’t need to sweat? Are our actions teaching our kids this lie?
Like Robert Anderson said, “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.”
Why do people give up on marriage? - BECAUSE IT ISN'T EASY
Why isn't it easy?
BECAUSE IT IS UNDER ATTACK!
There are three major threats to oneness in marriage as outlined in the Bible. Maybe you don’t read the Bible, or maybe you think it’s a load of crock, but guess what? Your feelings about it can’t change whether or not it’s true.
Guess what else? The Bible has a PERFECT blueprint for marriage. It’s like bringing your car into the shop when it’s broken.
If your car stops working on the side of the road, you’re not just going to leave it there… you’re going to take it to someone who KNOWS HOW TO FIX IT. Same thing with marriage.
The “Just Quit” culture we’re being fed isn’t serving us at all…so what if we take it to someone who knows how to fix it?
No matter what you think of the Bible, hear me out on this:
“You have an enemy, but the enemy is not your spouse”
(Maybe try telling your spouse that tonight if you’re in the middle of a sticky situation… The conference speakers had us repeat those words to each other several times and although some couples were saying them through clenched teeth, the truth remains the same.)
When we back up for a second, we realize more is going on than what we can see. If our spouse is not our enemy, then who is?
“The tragedy today is that many Christians think they are fighting flesh and blood in their marital and parenting issues, rather than realizing that Satan has an agenda to destroy their home. Whoever controls the family controls the future.” (Tony Evans)
Today was a whirlwind of learning and complex emotions. We dove headlong into the purpose of marriage as defined by the Bible. The conference speakers unpacked the fact that God actually designed marriage for “something far BETTER than happily ever after”.
Take THAT Disney!
How about we put THAT in a cartoon?
How many of us would describe our marriages like that today. Would you? Are you living better than “happily ever after?”
Unfortunately, we can't build a “better than happily ever after” marriage on our own.
Marriage wasn’t designed to be done apart from God. He’s the one who knows how it works! So if you don’t feel like yours is better than happily ever after, maybe it’s time to take it to the mechanic.
Saturday night was hard and good.
The Weekend To Remember staff sent everyone on individual dates and gave us questions to discuss over dinner and an outline for a love letter we were supposed to write to each other.
This conference has been like looking for something in the dark. Ever done that?? Maybe trying to plug your cell phone in or search for a lost baby blanket? Looking in the dark can be so frustrating. You can stub your toe… make a mess, knock things over.
This conference has been like flipping the lights on.
As soon as you flip the lights on, you can find whatever it is you’re looking for in seconds. It’s not that it wasn’t THERE, it was that you couldn’t see it.
On our prescribed date, when we discussed the given conference questions, we were able to have break-through understanding that we haven't had in 5 years. Yes, 5 years people. For the first time, I felt like the light was flipped on and Jonathan understood me.
To be perfectly honest, this conference helped me realize that I had been holding on to unforgiveness towards Jonathan for things he didn't even realize he was doing.
Talk about stupid. (Me, Not him ;). I'm not sure who said it, but I've heard that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.
(Settle down; I've never wished for Jonathan to die)
However, I had chosen to think resentful thoughts about our miscommunications.... Unfortunately, (if you're thinking negative thoughts) they will actually get you more more miscommunications because what you THINK about actually EXPANDS.
You get more of what you're thinking about because you're LOOKING for it.
I realized this weekend that resentment serves no useful purpose.
Hang on one second before you call the Captain Obvious police. You know that I know that just because we KNOW something is unhelpful, doesn't mean we stop doing it.
So how about you? Are you holding onto grudges that serve no useful purpose? Think about it : Grudges motivate no one, they make you feel awful, and they make it so you're only focused on the negative.
Sounds like something we should stop doing.
Fast forward a few hours and Jonathan shared the sweetest love letter with me on bended knee (I know, I'm getting mushy.... you know you like it ;).
Suddenly I felt understood and loved and like the fog had lifted.
You can’t tell me you don’t want that.
Sunday Morning - I’m writing this while the men are in a men’s only session right now...the women are next :)
In perfect honestly, this weekend hasn’t been easy.
There have been tears, confusion, and lots of heavy talks, but guess what? -
“Great” has never been a synonym of “Easy”... and I’d rather have a “Great” and thriving marriage over an easy and broken one.
Captain Obvious was all over the conference... like where is started with saying “No marriage is static. You are either drifting toward isolation or moving toward oneness.”
But if that is SO obvious, so why is it so challenging?
As we wrapped up the conference, we were challenged to recommit our marriage to each other and to God in a conscious effort to “paddle” toward oneness.
Unfortunately, if we aren't paddling, we're floating, and the only place we can float is toward isolation which is where so many marriages are today.
So which are you?
Paddling towards oneness or floating towards isolation?
If you’re like me, this question makes you feel uncomfortable
But maybe discomfort is good.
Maybe discomfort is the key ingredient for healthy change.
Several times throughout the conference, the speakers would challenge us saying,
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”
How about you? Are you feeling fantastic with what you’re getting?
Maybe it’s time to try something new.
The Weekend to Remember conferences happen all over the country all year long. In fact, there are two sessions happening two sessions happening in Wisconsin in February and April and two sessions happening in Des Moines and Minneapolis in March. Check it out here
Maybe listening to this silly farm blog lady *could* just save your marriage.
Better than save -- maybe it could make your marriage *better* than happily ever after.
Either way - Let’s stop wrestling with Captain Obvious - it doesn’t do any good anyway.
Instead, let’s roll up ourselves and do SOMETHING
because “Great Marriages Don’t Just Happen”
LOOK AT YOU!!!!!!!
Thanks so much for reading.
You just read a whole blog about having a great marriage which means you CARE about yours! Nice work.
You're done with the first step :) What's the next step? How can I help!?
If you don't know me, I'm Liz Gerdes, and I'd like to be your cheerleader.
I'm a SE MN dairy farmer and friend to anyone who needs one.
I help moms feel awesome about what they feed their families with farm fresh milk!
Visit gerdesfreshfarm.com or follow me on Facebook @gerdesfreshfarm for more info.
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*All quotes taken from the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference Manual