Get ready for some thoughts on marriage. I’m no expert, but given that this is my second marriage and I’m well into year two of the rest of my life, I do have a perspective all of my own. I’ve been devastated and seen miracles. I’ve felt hopeless and also filled with more joy than I ever thought imaginable. This time around has already felt like a decade or more of shared experiences all jammed into a somewhat short period of time. Which is why I write.
Anyone who’s stuck with me on HeyLou knows: there was a time when I only listened to sad songs.
Then I moved on to love songs that were still just a little bit sad.
Now, I still prefer songs that might sound sad to some, but to me are actually full of hope. They’re beautiful. They’re restless. They’re wild. They’re not what you’d expect. (And ironically, this is often how my husband describes yours truly.) They’re also usually gentle and patient… which I swear I am, but my husband has yet to see what I’m really capable of there. ;)
Today my sister shared a song with me that cut right to my core. I sat at my desk at work, took a small brain break, and listened. I held back tears. I promptly sent the song to my husband via text (gotta love technology).
His response after listening: I’ll stay.
Do me a favor and listen to this song immediately. Close your eyes while you do it. Think of the one you love. Try not to bawl your eyes out.
My cup was pretty much filled up and it will be for a good while.
Because “I’ll stay” means everything.
Something you should know: when it comes to romance or what people find attractive, I’m a bit of a weirdo.
I love smell. The other day my husband asked me to smell his shirt from the laundry pile to see if he could wear it — I took a sniff and said, “It smells wonderful.” He looked at me like I was crazy. His breath smells like heaven. I just want to nuzzle my nose into his armpit. (kidding/NOT kidding)
I love sitting in silence. Some of our most romantic moments have been while sitting on our roof, watching the sunset and saying absolutely nothing.
I love having no plan and being led along by the person who SORT of made a plan. It actually drives me crazy to have a schedule. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised all the time. My mantras are: “Whatever works!” and “We’ll get there eventually!” Which I’m pretty sure the kids have grown to love, because they laugh every time we get kinda lost.
I love laughing. It FILLS ME UP. Just make me laugh and all will be okay.
… Unless I just need to cry and for my spouse to understand that. Luckily, I can roll up into a ball on Israel’s chest and get mascara all over his best shirt and he will just hold me. He now knows that saying something like, “It’ll all be okay” might just make things worse, so silence wins again in most cases.
When we first got together, he tried to be romantic once and bought me some chocolate. I generously ate it and let him know he didn’t need to do that – ever again. However, if he could learn to keep my sauerkraut juice right where it is and never throw it down the drain again, that’d be so amazing and would definitely speak to whatever my love language is. We’ve worked on our relationship and grown quite a bit. It’s those small things, like him growing to love sauerkraut juice, or me trying to close all of the cabinet doors (which I do MOST of the time now…) or all of those moments where we both say sorry just by looking across the room at one another a certain way… that tells me every day what he said over text: I’ll stay.
Now that I’m with someone who resonates with me on these levels and pretty much makes all of my wildest dreams come true simply by being himself, I finally understand this song. With that being said, I also know that nothing will ever be perfect. It’s knowing that this man is ALSO the person who can irk me like no other human on earth, who I love with that knowledge. It’s the acceptance of such that helps us truly win. After all, the opposite of love is not hate: it’s indifference.
We all know that the guy who wrote this song does not actually mean going blind. He most likely means “if I get so lost in this world that I cannot see the light or find my way through it… if I lose sight of what’s important…”
We can also assume that he does not actually mean his hands getting amputated. But I’m sure we’ve all felt that outside-of-our-bodies sadness or depression. Sometimes human touch can’t fix us. Sometimes we are incapable of loving physically or loving well. Sometimes we can’t do what we need to do.
If I lost my mind… again, we all have our days. Or our seasons. Sometimes it’s YOUR job to keep things together. To build up your partner. Sometimes you will need to sacrifice everything because the one you love and are committed to cannot see the light, cannot feel their own body and cannot get into the right frame of mind.
And we will lift each other up during that time, because we all know (and, I think, especially know in a second marriage) that these times WILL exist and that oh-so-quickly, the tide will turn. We support and work hard and fill in the spaces and pray and lift up because we KNOW: someday my partner will do this for me.
The key is exactly what my husband says to me all of the time. “I’ll stay.”
And I’ll admit: sometimes I leave. But guys, it’s only for like five-ten minutes. It’s kind of like in a movie. Sometimes I just need those few minutes to drive around the block, possibly beat up my dashboard in the process, and come back with what might be a hoarse voice, but a self that is ready to take a deep breath, straighten my hair and continue the conversation. And at first, this habit of mine was not good. I think deep down my husband thought I might not be coming back. It was a no-brainer for me. Don’t you know I just need a second? He had to learn that I’d stay, no matter what. I would never abandon him and drive AWAY away. Never disappear without him knowing where I was. And he knows it now fully. (And I do that five minutes in my car thing much less often.) Sometimes leaving also means walking out of the room, but my husband never does that either. He will tell me, as I turn to leave, that he isn’t going anywhere, that he is not walking away, and with that, he challenges me to be better and to stay right there in the difficult moment we find ourselves in. In marriage, staying means I will not leave. Both parties. Forever.
I sent the song to him, but more in confirmation– more of a “this is what you show me all the time” sort of way. I sent it as a thank you, not as a request.
However: with all of this being said, the person I truly know will not leave is God. Yup, I’m going there. Because Israel is not supposed to be the one thing I can count on in this life. We are so imperfect and cannot always lead when we need to. We cannot always be the gracious hands of our spouse. We cannot always remain calm when we need to. And for that, and forever, and through everything, we need God in our lives. We need to pray. We need to know that when we have the strength to be THERE for our loved ones, it isn’t our amazing selves doing it. It’s God’s grace working through us. HE is our shepherd, not our spouses.
Which also kind of gives me clarity as to why I would leave and drive for a few minutes. I’d need to scream, but it would almost always be a prayer. I just needed to remove myself from the situation for a minute, have my real argument, and then reconciliation (in my heart), with God, and then return with the Holy Spirit I prayed to surround me and help me breathe.
We can only stay because of God who gives us that strength and who gives us more assurance and love than any human being ever could.
I sure am thankful for my partner. I’m thankful for each day we promise even deeper that we will in fact stay, and stay forever – at least as long as we are on this earth.
It isn’t just how good he smells keeping me there, either. ;)