Husband, we’ve been here before, in this pretzeled mess we’ve made of our priorities. And we let it all get out of hand; too tangled and complicated to straighten out on our own. That’s when we came to understand the full force of the destruction that comes from not putting each other and our marriage first. Before the kids, even. Before the jobs or the numbers in the checkbook. Before friends and extended family. Before daily chores and never-ending responsibilities. Before temptations. Before every and all the things.
Worse, we took our marriage to proverbial rock bottom as a result of how low we downgraded its importance. Landing in that danger zone with a jarring thud, we felt the already present crack between us begin to widen into a crevasse so vast we didn’t know if we could bridge the gap. We weren’t sure we wanted to. The twisty highway we followed to rock bottom included taking the off-ramps of me giving up on our marriage mentally and you having an affair in response. At the affair, our wheels came off and we crashed.
Husband, what happened next was truly amazing. Once we understood we’d worked our marriage into a state of do or die, we both decided to do. We realized we still did. We still would. Though we found the road back from infidelity even more treacherous than the road we traveled to get there, we stayed the course. We left rock bottom with our eyes fixed on higher ground and we didn’t stop moving forward until we got there.
Slowly and carefully, we rebuilt a stronger, better marriage using the hard-won bedrock a massive impact can reveal. Our love for each other now plunges to new depths, reinforced with the priorities we put back in order. Our mutual commitment to one another, refined in the fires of its nearly fatal explosion, is fiercer than the one we had before. All this was possible because we still had love left for each other and because we asked Jesus to step in and take the wheel.
When we let God back into the driver’s seat, everything changed for the better. We knew without a doubt failing to save a seat for Him was where we had gone fundamentally wrong. We knew that without looking to Him, trusting Him and relying upon His vision for marriage, we weren’t going to be successful at restoring our own.
Husband, once we refocussed on God, He opened your heart to couples counseling for the first time and then provided us with the main piece of advice we used to overhaul our marriage with. Under God’s direction, you sourced the book, What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp and in its pages, we found a salve we used to heal our gaping wounds.
Together, we read that book a chapter at a time mining each one for marriage wisdom gold. The biggest nugget was found in Tripp explaining how dire it was we begin to give each other our first and our best. Advice so simplistic and yet so profound, outlining a task we had failed at so miserably. One we were determined to undertake again and get right this time.
We began to put one another first and give of our best to each other, no longer of the dregs we had leftover after giving to ourselves and others. We chose to sit next to each other at restaurants while dining out with friends. We checked in with each other before adding anything to our calendars. We used our phones to communicate only love or important family logistics to each other. When home, we put those phones in the other room so we could focus on each other. We worked to keep little deals little, from growing into big ones.
Mornings, we awoke and spent time in prayer, over coffee, or making love. Sometimes all three and not necessarily in that order. We sat on the couch as day turned into night and looked each other in the eye. We held hands, uncovered our hearts and bared them to each other. We ended our nights with a shared activity, some words of love, a boa-tight snuggle or more intimacy. Sometimes all of the above and in reverse order.
Giving our first and our best to each other in all the ways we’d neglected to before worked to reinvent us. Along with months of therapy, mountains of forgiveness and plodding to work through every challenging emotion the wrecking of our marriage brought ’round. Astoundingly, we eventually made it all the way back home. And taking into account how far we’d strayed, we consider this a monumental victory and testament to the two of us.
Husband, now years later, I feel us slipping back into our old, poorly prioritized ways. While it’s cause for concern, it does not yet cause worry. We’ve been here before and we’ll likely be here again. Being in this disconnected state isn’t the problem, it’s what we do next that could be. So let’s double back to where we started to heal and begin yet again. Together, let’s turn to God and ask for help once more, for it’s when we’re humble and weak He can so easily remold us like clay.
Let’s recognize we’ve grown weary and tired in raising tweens into teens, in too much work and not enough play, in holding friendships together as life tugs them apart. Let’s call out how we’ve become lazy again at loving each other with action, words, and face time.
For this ebb and flow of energy in marriage is written in the stars and regulated by the moon. We’ve just to read the tide tables of love and plan accordingly. We’ve just to be aware of when our connection to each other wanes. We’ve just to hold tight and ride out the waves together, not apart.
Husband, we know how to safely arrive back at shore and we know to begin the effort to get there the moment we feel adrift, too far out at sea. The very instant we feel the strength of our bond giving way to the forces that constantly work against it. We know that simply sitting with each other does wonders. We know spending our time talking and touching, planning and debating, explaining and requesting, or sharing and praying further reinforces and fortifies whatever is weakening within us.
We learned all this the hard way and paid a heavy price for that education. Husband, let’s use that knowledge and set ourselves back to right with each other quicker and quicker each time we’re pulled apart. For we are not our mistakes, either one of us. We are more so what we do right after. And while taking each other for granted or falling short of our vows will happen from time to time inside our humanity, we can remedy it all so quickly when we begin again to give each other our first and our best.
Husband, God’s got this. And we’ve got this now, too.
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