Word of the Week

It Gets Better

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend about some mutual acquaintances of ours who recently married.

"Oh, they're in the really happy phase of marriage," my friend proclaimed about the couple.

"I'm sure they look at each other googley eyed all the time. They can't wait to come home to each other, cook together, do everything together." And he went on and on like this.

Then, he turned toward me: "Don't you miss the newlywed stage, Elizabeth? You've been married what, seven or eight years now? Surely the flames must be dying."

"Eight," I said, "On October 27th, it will be eight . . . But I don't miss being a newlywed at all. And, no our flame isn't dying. . . "

1095_10151212439479168_1198082858_n"Why?" he mused with a look of shock on his face.

I went on to explain why by saying I believe there's so much false teaching out there when it comes to marriage . . .

Especially in our "Say Yes to the Dress," "90 Day Fiance," and "Married at First Sight" reality tv culture.We, as Americans idolize the fantasy of perfect wedding + right mate= years of blissful happiness.

But, the real world is not magical, my friends.

Marriage, even when you go into the vows with the best counseling, the best intentions and even the best possible partner for you, is so much work!

Especially if your goal is shared intimacy and partnership, hard patches will find you (and don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise)!

I went on to tell my friend: "I don't envy newlyweds, all that naiveté I once had. Really, I don't. Because what I have now 8 years in is much stronger and reliant and more life-giving than I could have ever have imagined when I first walked down the aisle."

As Kevin and I have watched and learned from couples who have been at it much longer than we have (and still like each other!), intentionally has become our guiding principle.

Marriage is a daily choice.

Making the choice to listen for understanding (and forgive a lot).

Making the choice to spend time a part (your friends are important too!) as well as quality time just the two of you.

Making the choice to allow callings and vocations to be woven together (even if it means spending your time in ways you would never have imagined!).

And of course all of this intentionality takes hours, takes days and sometimes even months or years when you wonder:

"Did I marry an alien? Because I don't understand him/her at all!" and/or "Oh, it would be so much easier if I were single . . . "

But I have a strong belief in life's big heapings of grace that somehow partnerships can find their way back to center, back to heart-felt conversation, back to trust.

And when this happens, joy comes! This joy is very good.

For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. 

So that as you live through more and more cycles together, you find yourself saying this, "It gets better." Because it really does!

Marriage is a marathon after all, not just a sprint!

And I know I've got so much more to learn.

Thank you, my dearest Kevin Hagan for being on this journey with me. We are better together. Happy anniversary day. IMG_6551