This has been my complaint about marriage over the years: “Why can’t we both be in a good place at the same time??”
It seems like whenever I am weak – dragging along in a chocolate-addicted, exercise-averse, temper-sizzling, cranky depression – Ryan is amazing. His skin glows from the 10K he sprinted before his 45-minutes of devotions. His hair stays trim, his stomach is flat, his attitude is positive and can-do. He brings me flowers, sends me to Barnes and Noble for the evening, and takes the whole family out to dinner. He solves my problems and helps with the housework. He teaches all the kids how to butcher a chicken, analyze baseball statistics, and play inverted scales on the recorder. AND he wakes up in the middle of the night with the babies so I can sleep.
Though I appreciate his amazingness, I mostly get caught up in a pity party that I am a D.R.A.G. on this incredible, industrious, happy man. I wish I could be stronger for him…
Of course, I blink and the shoe is on the other foot.
Suddenly (how’d this happen?), I’m the one tying up my running shoes when the sun is just peaking over the hills, my heart is full of prayer and praise toward God, I collect wildflowers for a vase on the kitchen table and make a special lunch for my man and tuck a lovey-dovey Post-it Note inside. I do all this while Ryan’s still in bed! While his alarm has gone off five times to no avail. He gets ready for work slowly, carrying the world on his shoulders. If he speaks at all during dinner that evening, it’s just to say that he’s frustrated about this and about that and about everything. He’s overwhelmed by all of life’s demands and he can’t see his way through. I listen lovingly. I have caring, strong things to say. I look for ways to alleviate his burdens.
I love being strong for him, but I can’t help getting caught up in a pity party that he is a D.R.A.G. on the positive trajectory of my life. If only he would get his behind out of bed and go for a run, then he’d feel spunky and happy… like me! I wonder if I should mention this to him…
Though this certainly isn’t how things are all of the time, these are well-rehearsed scenes in our marriage. I’ve often gotten stuck on that one complaint: “Why can’t we both be in a good place at the same time??”
Recently however, I had an epiphany that got me unstuck.
It came to me when I remembered the beautiful verses from Ecclesiastes 4 that are often read at weddings:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
The epiphany: it’s part of the plan! One will fall; the other will lift up. One will be cold; the other will warm. One will be attacked; the other will protect. Over and over and over again, it will be the very fabric of marriage.
It’s not a bad thing to be the one who is down. There is no need to feel guilty or indebted.
It’s not a bad thing to be the one who is up. There is certainly no need to feel proud or lonely.
We’re tied together in the journey, through the ups and downs, come what may. And the tie that binds us – the One who is between us actually doing all the lifting, warming, and defending – is Jesus himself, our third cord.
For that, for Christ, and for my husband, I am grateful.