So I've been doing a lot of learning this past year. Learning for me means failing and then going, "Oh yeah, that's how I could have handled this better!"
The main thing that I feel like God is teaching me is that circumstances should not dictate my feelings and attitudes. I am the kind of person who prays fervently for something, begging and whining and down on my knees until God either gives it to me or I just give up. But the thing is that as soon as I get a favorable outcome, as soon as my prayers are answered, I find another thing to worry about.
Circumstances change and I'm back to being unhappy about the next thing that I beg God for. "God if only you will do this, then I will be happy. Then I will feel safe. Then I can trust you."
A mature person is someone who realizes that no matter the ebb and flow of the circumstances in life, that emotions and security should be anchored in God. Despite good things or bad things happening to me, I am safe with Jesus.
I'll just say it right now, I am not a mature person yet. I am still learning (failing) this particular lesson daily.
What does this have to do with marriage?
The Four Seasons of Marriage by Gary Chapman. He's the very smart dude who wrote the incredibly popular, "The Five Love Languages."
This new book is not groundbreaking, to be honest. I find much of it redundant, though there are parts with very sound advice.
What really got me though was the quiz.
Every good marriage book has to have a quiz right? It sure seems that way.
Normally I don't take quizzes, I sorta think they're lame. But I took this one because I was curious to see where Chapman's evaluation process would place my marriage. My marriage that has been dealing with the insane stress of foster care for 14 months, with infertility for 6 years, with moving recently, with getting pregnant unexpectedly and then realizing we'll have a 16 month old and a newborn and what that means for both my time to work and be an adult and our time together as a couple.
Would we be in the fall season with its pulling away, its doubts and fears about making it as a couple?
Would we be in the winter season with its cold atmosphere and distance? (This was my guess after a difficult pregnancy and more than just a little dry spell sexually. When you're sick for five months it tends to kill any kind of "mood"!)
I thought perhaps maybe spring because we do have a baby to look forward to. But I doubted it. All the spring case studies sounded so in love and hopeful for the future. We've been kinda like, "Oh sweet goodness, life is going to be hellishy crazy until they're both in school!"
Summer. A time when couples feel connected, when they are safe and secure in their relationship, when their communication is flowing, when their marriage feels strong. It is a time of true teamwork, bonding, and joy.
I was like, "What the what?!" We have been going through some of the most stressful circumstances in our lives. Circumstances that seem like they can't get any more stressful...and then they do. And both of us have been reeling to keep up.
And yet when I answered questions about my marriage, I answered that yes I feel connected, satisfied peaceful, committed, secure, trusting, attached, and comfortable.
If Mr. Gary Chapman is correct, then it is true. Circumstances really don't need to dictate everything. Circumstances can be good and you can be in a healthy marriage spot. Circumstances can be bad and you can be in a healthy marriage spot.
Yes, I knew this. But I didn't fully grasp it until that moment where I read "you're in the summer of your marriage." And I tell you what, it's been making me feel pretty darn good ever since. Because I realized it was the truth. Oh, we've been complete beasts to each other the past 2 months. Moving brings out the worst in both of us. But overall, I'm really impressed that we've been talking through things. We've been having fights and resolving issues. We've been supportive of each other (it's messy and takes time, but we do get there). We've been coming together in our own unique ways about the stressful things. (Yes we might yell a bit and storm around first....but we then seem to be able to calm and connect again. Jake more than me, I've got a lot of hormones right now people!)
Not saying all this to toot any kind of horn. Because in reality I have been doing much soul searching about what a "good marriage" looks like. And ours didn't seem part of the picture. I'm deeply questioning the wealth of marriage advice out there. I'm rethinking what it all means.
I'm saying this because perhaps it's a concept that needs to be included in a new way to look at marriage. That being in a good place doesn't mean life is going according to plan, that things could be seriously out of whack. In fact, your marriage could seem like it's pretty messy. But that messy could mean you're working through problems, you're acting like a team, you're communicating, you're wrestling with stuff together...all of which produces trust, security, and peace about the relationship.
Just like circumstances shouldn't alter my love, trust, faith, and feelings about God....circumstances shouldn't alter my marriage.
Hmmmmmm. I'm gonna be pondering this for a while!