In our fourth post, we are looking at marriage again as a follow-up to our second post about Staying Unified. Enjoy!
Growing up as a guy in the suburbs of Philadelphia, you knew about Rocky. You knew about the movies. You went to the Philadelphia Art Museum on a field trip and ran up the steps, stopping at the top and shadowboxing, arms then raised up in victory. The movie, and sequels, were classic underdog stories. Rocky represented the city, the fight of the downtrodden, the backbone that would raise a man up from the dirt and help him see his dream. You couldn’t attend a sporting event and not hear the theme. Rocky showed us all the value of fighting, of stepping in the ring and not going out until the enemy is defeated.
Today, a friend told me her marriage was ending.
My heart broke as Val and I both know the family. Divorce is ugly. Marriages take effort, especially when kids are in the mix. They take time and focused movement towards a goal. They take one eye on the present, and one on the future. I spent the remainder of the day thinking about the situation. As a writer, I naturally gravitate towards empathy. As much as I tried to put myself in her shoes, I could not. Her life changed today and it will never go back to the way it was before.
After work, Val and I talked about it. Here are a few ways we pinpointed to keep fighting and never lose hope:
~Have Goals: A marriage is like a business. All successful businesses have plans. They look to next week, next quarter, and next year. They think about what is coming and adjust focus accordingly. You must, as a couple, have goals. You must be able to picture the future and, in the hard times, remind each other of the idealized end result. Write it down. Hang it in the bedroom or kitchen. Make it clear and present. Know that, when everything weighs you down, you have a direction you are headed. It can help to snap you out of the funk.
~Date Again: When we had the boys, the dating stopped. We have friends that have date nights every week. With our work schedule, it just isn’t possible. We needed to make time and make the most of the time to go out to dinner, coffee, or even a walk. Don’t forget what it was like to date. Don’t forget the magic of the first days, when every glance was a mystery to be unraveled and every touch was electric. Love. Be in love and show love. Buy the flowers. Dress up. Make the effort and pour it into your relationship and, when you are out, try not to talk about the kids. Make it about you and your partner and you can find that spark again.
~Fight Smart: Every marriage can build up negative energies. We’ve felt it many times. Something will create tension and it will build until it is let out and addressed. Now we’ve both raised our voices and said things that were cutting but, in the end, we made a plan to go forward and handle the issue that caused the fight in the first place. Never, I repeat, never drop the word divorce in the conversation. When that comes out, it can’t be removed or unheard. State your case, listen to theirs, handle the issue and move on. When you fight smart, the dark times can pass quicker and you’ll emerge stronger on the other end.
I’m praying for this family and blessed to have a wife that is willing to stick it out until the end. As you go into the weekend, remember that marriage takes effort, kids are work, and your spouse is your teammate to get it done. You can run together, climb the stairs, and shadowbox on the Art Museum steps. It would make a great date night!
~Matt and Val