Marriage: It starts with Choices.... - by Leah Keiffer

---> A marriage story and perspective given on her own account by Leah Kieffer! Please feel free to reach out to her if this story speaks to you by CONTACTING US


I’m sitting here wondering how I ever ended up being asked to write this blog on the topic of marriage, and at the same time I’m so thankful I could cry! In the midst of some of our most exhaustive years as mothers and fathers, where does our teammate end up in that mix? Do we forget who we married along the way?

Think back to when you were dating.

You find out what you like about the other person, you spend late nights talking on the phone; you truly seek to know each other.You go out of your way to make the other one smile or to make a bad day better. You intentionally do little things to show you care. You want to spend as many moments as possible, together.

The feeling of knowing you have found your person, how exciting it is to know you met your husband.  That he is the one for you, for forever.

Once you’re newlyweds, most people say you’re in the honeymoon stage; completely inseparable and so grateful you found the one who completes you.

So no one talks about what happens next.. or rather how hard it is to remain in the newlywed stage. What do you do when your marriage leaves the honeymoon stage, when suddenly you’re both being pulled in opposite directions with a work week that never seems to end, when you begin working towards separate goals, when you stop communicating because you’re too tired of your words falling on deaf ears?

And what about when you’re an exhausted parent trying to raise your little one(s)? What do you do when your marriage becomes silent car rides and petty arguments that never seem to address the real issues?

When it becomes devaluing and belittling and unkind and you scream at each other when your babe is asleep, calling each other names you can never take back, then crying yourself to sleep. But, a new day comes and you wake up to fake smile, face the day and try to be brave for your little one? Because the days just keep going and time never slows.

In as brief as I can explain to you all in written word, this is my story. This was my marriage-

for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

 

The heaviness of those vows, paired with feeling suffocated and trapped.

Guys, I never want to feel any of these things ever again.

So, who told us when we got married and had kids that those efforts from our dating stage stopped?

Who told us we suddenly need all this “alone time?” (also, I’m not referring to being tired and needing a time out to rest/ recuperate  )

When we are dating and engaged, we can’t even handle the thought of not seeing our person for one day. But now that we’re married we need to have time alone? It doesn’t make sense to me anymore.

Most all of us have heard 1 Corinthians 13 either at our own wedding or someone else’s. Now stick with me for a second, the passage reads,

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

What if we changed some of the wording in those verses, instead of ‘love’-

insert your name, instead of the word ‘it’- I. Read it out loud to yourself with the replacements.

It stings to read it in first person.

I’d be ecstatic to sit here and give everyone struggling in their marriages an easy step

by step guide of how to get your marriage back on track. And to tell you everything I

did to change my attitude and to change all of our bad habits. I simply can’t.

 

But what I can tell you is that it started with a choice.

I chose to start being responsible for myself and my own actions and my own responses.

A simple, calm phrase I started saying when a fight was starting was

“I don’t want to fight, you’re my friend.”

I don’t have all the right answers for whoever is reading this today.

But I can tell you if you’re reading this, it is not too late to try.

Carve out uninterrupted time with your spouse to communicate, even if it’s within your own house for 5-10 minutes a day; no cell phones, no electronics, no kids. Purposefully do something to show the other one you care, make the extra effort to say “I see you”- your husbands want you to notice them and appreciate them. Most every guy in my family says the number one way he feels love is primarily through feeling respected and valued. Husbands, your wives might need your extra hands at the end of long day — kind and patient hands that show her, “hey, I’m here to help YOU- let’s clean up the kitchen or get the kids in bed or fold this last load of laundry.” And intentionally doing those things together so you can BOTH sit down together. I don’t mean rushing through what needs done or doing them in anger or with an attitude because that 100% defeats the purpose and we as women will not feel valued, seen, or loved.

 

Neither of you should forget the other one works ALL day.

It might not be the same work, but it is work none the less that needs to be accomplished for your home to sustain. Your bad day does not trump your spouse’s bad day. You can’t override the way the other one feels, even if you don’t fully understand- marriage counseling is a great tool to learn to hear your spouse and work to understand even when you don’t. You should try to balance each other and lift each other up. Otherwise, you will be creating valleys within your marriage that are extremely hard to climb out of.

 

And I have wrestled with this last part, whether or not I should share it, but I wouldn’t

be telling you all the whole truth if I didn’t. Every idea and tool I can give you is great,

but these things are not what saved my marriage. All of these ideas helped us, and we

still strive toward each of them daily. But, for us without Jesus, none of this was

possible. HE gave me the want to fight FOR my husband, HE gave me the want to

understand my husband, HE gave me the want to learn how to communicate without

screaming at each other, HE gave me the feelings of guilt when I was keeping records

of all the wrongs done to me, HE gave me the want to swallow my pride and apologize,

HE gave me the ability to forgive all the hurts and all the ugly words and actually move

forward, HE showed me how to love my husband and HE pointed out that respect is my

guys first love language.

 

Friends, NONE of these ideas were mine; in fact I NEVER would have told you all that I

would even be doing those things. Because I was done! The fact is my husband and I

were going to get a divorce, we couldn’t agree on anything anymore and we were at

the end of our ropes with no kindness, no patience, no understanding and no want to

even try left.

Exhausted and wounded by each other.

 

But at some point between my sleepless nights and all my tears and all my prayers, God met me there in my dark valley. I had been begging God to meet my husband there too and to repair us. AND HE DID! I desperately wanted to show my daughter what marriage and love and kindness looked like lived out. I wanted her to have standards for when she reaches teen years. I wanted her to have Godly husband and wife example, people who modeled who/ what she would look for in her own spouse one day. Those were the primary desires of my heart under all the anger and hurt. And Jesus showed up, just as He always will.

I would encourage you all still reading to think back, and try to figure out when you lost the feeling of gratitude for your other half- and then swallow some pride so you can apologize. Your marriage can be healed and redeemed and restored.

You can love each other daily like newlyweds do- even with babies! And I hate to say it, but ladies please remember our babies will grow up and they will find their own paths and build their own lives and leave our nests.

When they go on and move forward, will you still recognize your spouse?

Or will all the years of wounding each other finally take their toll?- It crushes my heart to even type that sentence.

Think back to when you initially met and fell in love and start waking up each morning choosing to love your spouse, above your kiddos. Love and marriage do go hand in hand.

 

And I have learned it starts with choices,

and a sacrificial love for your other half.