My husband and I used a lemon tree at our wedding to be a sweet reminder to us as to what it means to tend to and keep healthy our marriage. Like a tree our marriage wasn’t going to survive unless we took care of it. It can’t bear good fruit without a little help. Things I’ve noticed about our tree that tie to marriage…
- When things start looking like the are unhealthy we have an opportunity to take note, learn what might help and try a few things to see if they work.
- It can sometimes do just fine on minimal water because there’s no heat to dry it up. Then other seasons it’s in need of water a few times a day because it’s so parched and in need of more constant care.
- It takes purposefulness and responsibity from the care giver so it doesn’t show signs of neglect.
- It bears fruit eventually…like the pretty stuff you hope to see that’s yellow and juicy..but it always takes time and never happens overnight.
- Growth feels so slow some seasons and so full and vivacious others.
You probably see where I’m going with this and how it ties into marriage.
When we see things in our marriage that are unhealthy and we notice bad habits are forming we really do have an opportunity to engage or disengage. We can choose to use the resources we have like books and mentors and counseling and wisdom to be helpful tools when things are not going well.
But it is an ‘opportunity’ not a ‘certainty’ because it’s something that not everybody chooses to grab a hold of and do something about. That’s usually because of denial or pride or image or self preservation or hurt or pain or something else…the list goes on.
If this feels at all relatable can I encourage you to take a moment today and consider your reason why you’re choosing not to take the opportunity? Here’s how I ask myself that question… what is my wall and do I know how to break through it?
I think 50% of the time I’m aware of what my wall is and the other 50% I have no idea. When I have no idea that means I need to take a break to think. I need to consider what it is that’s is underneath all the frustration or anger or bitterness or discouragement.
Because of counseling I know that a lot of it comes from my husband bumping into childhood wounds. He doesn’t realize he’s doing that so he gets a pass a lot of times when I’m able to slow down and realize that’s what’s actually happening. But it is important I speak up and tell him what he just bumped into so he can know what’s going on for me and maybe we can find a way to try a different path of communicating in the future.
That simplified explanation sounds like it’s a seamless process in our home and I wish that were the case. But in all honesty it’s very messy and there’s a lot of angry word exchange before we realize that’s what we need to do. However the more we engage in that process the more we find we reach the end a tad quicker then the time before because it’s familiar terrain and we kind of know what it means to get our footing in this place the 5th…a hem…maybe more like 100th time through.
I’m watching a marriage that I’ve been very close to you my whole life begin to fall apart. It’s been very difficult to watch and it’s hurt a lot of people. It’s not just a couple it’s the community it’s the family and everybody around them. I can’t help but wonder if there were some warning signs along the way. I can’t help but wonder if there was something that could have been done that was just swept under the rug and ignored that would have prevented them from getting to this place that they find themselves now.
It’s not my job to judge. It’s not my job to evaluate their marriage. But I’d be a fool not to watch and observe and collect wisdom as a bystander. To ask myself, “Are we on a road that leads to the same conclusion? Is our marriage missing a piece that would cause us to be where they are in 30 years?”
A word of advice to you…pause and consider something today: is there anything you could be doing to water or feed your marriage today? If you’re not really sure if there is think back to the last time an argument or fight was had and take a moment to consider if it was resolved or was it left unresolved? Was it ignored…was it inconclusive? If you find yourself noting that it resolution was lacking, I suspect that might be a good place to start if you want to feed your marriage this week.
If you feel like fights are not getting conclusions that might mean there’s some things not being tended to. Just stop and ask yourself…do I have the resources to solve the conflict? Do you know how to engage in conflic management? Did someone teach you how to fight fair with your spouse? If you’re not sure about any of these questions either I would say that’s also a great place to look if you’re wanting to grow with your spouse.
I hope I don’t come off sounding like I know exactly what I’m talking about because let’s be real I do not! My husband and I are finishing up a few months of marriage counseling because I’ve been dealing with anger for a really long time. The kind of anger that feels so big you explode all the time.
Part of what made it difficult was realizing I didn’t have one resource in my tool belt to know how to deal with it! And it was doing damage. Not just to me, not just to my husband but most definitely to my daughter. She was one of those bystanders that was getting hit by the shrapnel that my anger explosions caused. My irritation with my husband was resulting in a grumpy face and sassy tone anytime I looked at him. As a result I really feel like my daughter, was pushing him away in her own ways both physically and emotionally. It was getting in the way of her attaching to him.
That made me want to cry and left me feeling very unsettled! I knew something needed to change. And that was more recently after already having been in counseling for many months. That realization was gold, because it was the beginning of a different way of being in our house. I realize that dealing with my anger actually blew off a lot of filters of kindness and respect that I had previously had in place. Now those filters really did need to come off in order for me to get honest about what was really going on and how I was really feeling. But there’s also a time for them to come back on so that I don’t hurt everybody around me all the time!
Don’t forget to tend to your things! You’re going to be messy for a little while and it’s possible that people around you are going to get hurt and that’s tough to think about.
My spiritual director gave a really good image that stuck with me in regards to dealing with hurt. Think of a wounded animal. They’re very protective of themselves when they’re hurting. Even if somebody tried to come near to try and help they’re going to lash out at them. They’re just trying to protect themselves because they don’t feel safe and they are in pain.
That was me too! The reason I was so angry is because I was hurting and I needed help but I didn’t know who was safe to help me and so I lashed out at those who are trying to help comfort me.
Now, that realization and understanding did not come overnight. Like my slow growing lemon tree it has taken some time to bear the fruit of understanding as to what is actually going on inside of me when I’m angry. I needed to resource myself so that I knew how to get better and how to be healthy and how to bear good fruit.
I’m so thankful for counseling. I’m so thankful for compassionate people to help navigate the terrain of grief and pain. Please take care of your hearts everyone. Please don’t ignore problems and if you don’t know how to address them then find someone who can help you figure it out.
Be well today, readers.