Thursday, October 18, 2012

Muscle Memory for Your Marriage

My heart feels sad this evening for people I don't even know at all. I just read on one of my favorite blogs ( about yet another split up. Some days it feels like everyone is getting divorced.

And ya'll know we've been through the ringer too. I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "I can't be with this person. He is horrible. He is horrible to me. I can't breathe and I need to leave." I know Jake has thought the same thing.

But Wednesday morning we got the privilege to be part of a training/counseling session for The Center For Hope and Renewal in Greenwich, CT. We were counseled by one person while another room of counselors in training watched the video feed. The amazing thing about this session was that it really confirmed something that had been brewing in the back of my mind for quite some time.

Jake and I are used to being honest and transparent about our struggles. We admit them to each other. We admit them to others. This is a strength I think. But there has been a piece missing. Some old wounds from our individual pasts and from our relationship together that have created this wall. This defensive, "I will protect myself." But what I've been feeling glimmers of lately is not that we admit more of the stuggles to each other or dive into the hurts per se.

But learn to think the best of one another.

Yes, we're two screwy people with oodles of faults. But the love is there. That was confirmed by a room full of counselors who said they could see it so clearly.

So many times I think Jake is being a jackass, but in his mind and heart he's really trying to be there for me. He's trying to make me happy. He's trying to comfort me.

So many times Jake thinks I'm picking him apart, but what I really want is to see his true self. To be there for him and his deepest emotions.

Our behaviors are defensive, screwed-up and often wrong....but they're understandable. And beneath the screwy things we do, is a desire to do it right. To be a team. To show love.

It's hard for me to think the best of my husband. My past tells me that if you give someone an inkling of affirmation, they take it and use it to walk all over you. But I need to not listen to that past.

It's hard for Jake to think the best of me. His past says that if you trust someone's words, they will turn around and put you down later.

So many of the things we do in our marriages make a damn lot of sense if you look at the past and the present circumstances. If you understand hurts and feelings and coping mechanisms.

But even if you understand all that, it can be hard to move past the hurt. Past the behavior. People get divorced every day and they totally understand themselves, they understand where their partner is coming from and they understand what's wrong in the relationship.

But I think divorce can be avoided if we all learn to go back, dig deep and see where our hearts really are for one another. That most spouses really want to be with each other and be there for each other in the dark places. The way to move past the hurt is to open yourself up to the best idea of your spouse. To trust again that they love you, that they have your back when no one else will. That they will be there for you in your dark places. It doesn't make the hurt disappear, but it creates space for new experiences of doing it right. To have the "muscle memory" of your relationship be instances of coming together rather than moving apart.

I like the idea of muscle memory. You train muscles, then if you slack off a bit and go back to working out, the muscles remember what it was like to be in shape. They go back to that state of fitness faster. Believing the best is about training your relationship to experience this dependence and closeness. Then when all the daily things work to pull you apart, you know what it's like to be meshed. To be a team. It's a strong foundation.

I left that session feeling great (minus a pesky sinus infection and cranky baby). I'm hoping the great feeling reminds me about hope and thinking the best whenever the next test comes (prob. in the next 5 minutes or so!)


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It's Been A While...

We know its been a little while since we've written anything on this blog and even when we have, the pickings have been slim. Our hope is that that will change in the weeks ahead. We truly love this blog and are honored to hear from our readers how our holymess marriage is helping others.

So, a quick update on our lives and why writing has been less than usual...
  1. We just completed the manuscript for our first book that will be published by Simply Youth Ministry/Group Publishing. The tentative title is 99 Thoughts on Marriage and Ministry and is exactly what the title implies:  99 one-to-three paragraph thoughts about marriage care and balancing marriage and ministry. We're really excited about it and can't wait for it to be released, hopefully sometime early 2013.
  2. Second, connected to our book, we're very excited about our first marriage event that will be taking place January 6th-8th, 2013 in Spofford, NH. The weekend is a marriage retreat specifically designed for those in ministry and we have the privilege of organizing the weekend and working with some great friends and mentors on this. From what we've heard, it's the first event of its kind! There are plenty of youth ministry training events out there and also plenty of marriage retreats but the two have never been combined. We are already finding a ton of support for the event and there is hope that the one in January will be the first of many - and hopefully in other areas around the country. The retreat is already half sold-out (it's limited to 15 couples) and we have gotten a slew of National Partners who are helping keep the retreat VERY low cost ($50 per couple!!), as well as giving us a good chunk of freebies to give away.
  3. Lastly, things are continuing to progress well for our little guy and court is coming up soon which could possibly finally put us on the road to adoption. (Not sure if we are allowed to publish the exact date thus is why we are keeping it general.) Honestly, as good as things are looking now, it was a pretty difficult August/September as court was supposed to have happened already, but there was a delay and then some other logistical hiccups that really tested our faith. We continue to be reminded that God is good and in control through every step of this long, taxing process. Little man is 9 months now, crawling, getting into everything and chewing on whatever he can find!
Needless to say, these things have been dominating our time. but we are excited about turning the corner and investing more in this blog again!

The last thing we'll say is that we'd love to hear from you!! We have a handful of ideas for upcoming blogs, but we'd love to know what you want to read about. What questions are you asking? What are you wrestling with in your relationships? Our door is always open for your input and feedback. Just send us an email at

Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.