Last week was one that could just as easily be forgotten. Unfortunately, if I did that, I'd not benefit from the lessons learned.
I've fallen into complacency...feeling that everything is going smoothly at home, with the kids, within our marriage...and sometimes that sense of peace and the contentment which comes with it are easily disrupted. Who am I kidding--sometimes? With four children and a home and two dogs--and most importantly, a marriage--that "sometimes" is pretty much a guarantee.
School went well. Generally speaking, the whole week went very smoothly.
The marriage part, though, was tough.
We struggle, believe it or not, like every other married couple. If marriage was easy, anyone could do it, everyone would do it, and the divorce rate wouldn't be as high as it is!
Last week, it all came down to communication (or the lack thereof). With me teaching the kids and doing other housewifely things, and My Darling working at work, and then working at home on the house until all hours, our time together is at an absolute premium. And since I have the calendar all day, I tend to write things on it and expect My Darling's eyes to fall in its direction once in a blue moon. And since I am with the kids All Of The Time, I also have an interior expectation that My Darling will suddenly rush to me and say, "Sweetie, I see how hard you're working and I worry about your sanity.....you should go take some time for yourself!"
Here's how reality struck though.....
Really, our time being at a premium is a short-term situation, even though it doesn't feel that way. I suppose that would be because it's been this way for nearly two years, beginning with the day the excavation began for the new basement. Nearly every day, My Darling comes home from work and begins working on the addition, and he works until he either runs out of material or light or steam. When he comes in, he is rightfully exhausted...and still, he will lend a hand where it's needed in the house. My perspective is that it's very difficult to have him home, but not present to us. I know, though, that he misses me and the kids just as much as we miss him...and that completion of this monumental project will come as just as great a relief to him as it will to me.
The calendar is a wonderful tool, but like all tools, it has a proper use and an improper use. Since I've never been great with organization, I'm learning that with four home schooled children and a busy husband, we simply must be organized, or else things fall apart. Well, we can't have that, now can we? So I followed the example of a dear friend and I bought two magnetic dry-erase calendars. Of course, the purpose of having two is so that the present month can be on one, and the next month on the other. If everything works as it should, I erase "August" on September first, and then draw up "October," so that we can begin looking ahead to October as we go through September. I hung the calendars in a prominent location--on the kitchen-side of the bathroom door! Since we only have one bathroom at the moment, some of us spend time waiting in that precise location, so it's a great spot to put something like a calendar.
Unfortunately for my train of logic, My Darling does not spend oodles of time standing in line for the loo. He rushes in, does his thing, and rushes out. If he does have time to wait, he goes back out to work and just comes back to the loo again later, rather than hopping from one foot to the other like the rest of the common hoarde. (This is an option not open to those of us currently housing a tenant being knit together in the regions immediately above the bladder...!!) So his time in front of the calendar is nearly non-existent. This is not handy when I have things scheduled which involve one or both of us, for Pete's sake.
This means that when I put a much-needed retreat on the calendar for this past weekend for yours truly, My Darling did not see that it was for two days rather than one. This means that our plans were not even close to being coordinated enough for me to take this desperately needed retreat. Of course, my anger and frustration was aimed at my hard-working husband, rather than seeing that I should have discussed my needs with him. He can't read my mind any more than I can read his!
Things like this happen. And it's so easy to lay the blame for the things which go wrong at the feet of the nearest competent adult. Sometimes it's easy to lay the blame at the feet of the children as well. And while I recognize that My Darling is not faultless in the things which happened over the past couple of weeks, I also realize that I am equally at fault for not effectively communicating.
After the hullabaloo over not getting what I wanted, My Darling booked us to facilitate a Marriage Prep day on Saturday, which also happened to be our 11th wedding anniversary. Appropriate, I know, but not even close to what I wanted to be doing on the day I had scheduled the second half of MY retreat. I grumbled. I whined. I complained. I did everything I shouldn't have done, and because of it, I began the day with a horrible attitude.
The lesson was all about obedience and humility.
It was good and right for him to schedule us right into a day where we were required to take a long, reflective look at what makes our marriage as wonderful as it is--what makes it work, how important things like self-reflection and communication and prayer and intimacy are, and why it hadn't been working well lately. It was a fruitful day! It was renewing and invigorating and a beautiful way to spend our anniversary. And in the end, I said to him, "Honey, you were right to have us do this thing, and I was wrong to say the things I said, and I'm sorry." And with a smile, he said, "You should be used to me being right, you know..."
And it's true. Because while we may not always have it together, he never insists on doing things that aren't in our best interest. He does take into consideration my feelings and my needs--as long as I let him know what those things are. He is thoughtful and generous, and I love him dearly for it. And sometimes I just need the reminder that he is just as human as I am. Sometimes I need to be humbled and reminded that he is a gift beyond anything I could ever deserve--a blessing directly from God.
Thanks be to God for the dips into the valley, and the work it takes to climb out of them. Without them, we would never see the beauty of the view from the top.
Please consider in your prayers all couples who allow communicative breakdowns to hamper the joy in their marriage, and all those who fail to be thankful for the blessings in the midst of the challenges.