Being vulnerable

I can’t help but think how the times Logan and I feel closest are the times we’re really open with each other – about our struggles, our sins, or whatever is on our hearts.

It’s hard to talk about what’s going on inside you, especially depending on your temperament, because sometimes you can’t even explain your crazy thoughts. It’s even harder not knowing how the other person will react. And it’s even harder when you know that whatever is on your heart might hurt or upset your spouse.

But I think it’s harder keeping all of that to yourself. It’s hard to live with someone and not share everything with them. It’s hard to grow closer to someone when you’re keeping things to yourself.

Being vulnerable with your spouse is how you grow closer to each other.

Maybe you’re married to someone who has gotten some major walls built up, and you’ve tried everything to break down those walls. Maybe you’re desperate to know how your spouse is really feeling or what’s going on in his mind, but he just can’t bring himself to open up to you. Or maybe your spouse is an open book and I’m actually describing you.

Well, I’m definitely not a psychologist and I’m certainly not an expert, but either way, I think that sometimes you have to put yourself out there if you want someone to do the same. One spouse has to share first, and the hope is that the other one will reciprocate. But it has to start somewhere.

Perhaps you also just need to let your beloved know that you’re there for them, no matter what, and that whenever they’re ready to share his/her heart, you’re ready to listen.

I know some people automatically try to offer a solution to someone’s problem. You know what I mean…they feel an overwhelming sense to fix everything. I suppose we’re all guilty of that at some point. But sometimes – I daresay a lot of times – people don’t necessarily want a solution. They just want someone to listen. To know they have your support.

To love them unfailingly and unreservedly, no matter what.

Whenever Logan shares a struggle with me, sometimes my first instinct is to freak out a little inside, because how the heck did I not know he was feeling that way? Why did he not tell me this before? How long has he been struggling with this and why have I never asked??

But I have to stop myself and remember to not make it about me. Logan is sharing his heart, which is not something that comes easily to everyone (especially men), and I need to make sure Logan knows how appreciative I am of that and that I’m not going to judge him or criticize him.

I just want him to know I love him.

There have been times where I debated about whether or not I should talk to Logan about a particular issue I was struggling with, and sometimes I ended up just praying about it. God would do one of two things: 1) give me the grace to finally talk to Logan, or 2) place the same particular issue on Logan’s heart, who then brought it up with me. (I told you prayer is powerful in a marriage!)

But one thing is always the same – I need to be vulnerable with Logan, and he needs to be vulnerable right back. He can’t read my mind (although sometimes that’s debatable!), so he doesn’t always know what I’m thinking unless I tell him. We’ve had dozens of difficult conversations over the years, but it’s always been a necessary step in understanding each other and getting on the same page. And as time goes on, being vulnerable with each other becomes less awkward and actually is one of my favorite parts of our relationship. I know I can tell him anything, and vice versa. There’s not too much that can shake a relationship where both parties are completely honest and open with each other, in every aspect of life.
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On our “Goodwill date” where we each picked an outfit for each other and wore it to dinner afterwards. I was feeling pretty vulnerable 😂

Disillusionment

Earlier this year, our church parish hosted a date night for couples, which included dinner, dancing, and a talk by a married couple. During their talk, the speaker couple explained that marriage goes in a cycle – from the Honeymoon Stage to Disillusionment. When you’re in Disillusionment, you have to make a choice or decision – to divorce, separate, or stay. Assuming you choose to stay and manage to work things out, you eventually reach True Joy.

According to Google’s dictionary, disillusionment is “a feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be”. The first time I felt that in my marriage was not long after the wedding, ironically enough. But just a couple months later, we were back in True Joy.

That talk at my church was a big epiphany for me, because I can look back and see several times when were were in Disillusionment, and just as many times that we were in True Joy. It really is true – marriage has a cycle.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to say in True Joy forever. But I’ve realized that when we’re in Disillusionment, it’s the perfect time to challenge ourselves to do more and put more effort into our marriage. So many couples get so discouraged in Disillusionment that it leads to divorce, and while I know there are exceptions, I do think that many marriages could be saved by just doing simple things. If you’re at a loss as to what to do for your spouse, focus on their love languages. You really can’t go wrong.

Logan and I always seem to really struggle when I’m pregnant, and then we struggle again when our babies are around 6 months old. By that point, I’m pretty burnt out on breastfeeding and trying to keep up with everything. When our middle son was around that age, Logan and I hit a rough patch. I felt overwhelmed with trying to keep up with the kids, bills, housework, etc., and it seemed like Logan was expecting too much of me. Basically, we were not on the same page about anything.

One night, we had a tiff over something – I’ll spare the details but let’s just leave it at this: I totally understood why people divorce. I had never felt so under-appreciated and distant from the one person who was supposed to be my partner in life. (Logan has felt the same way about me at times, too, because it’s definitely a two-way street.)

We’ve had several other times like that in our marriage, and it always feels the same – like we’re complete strangers. I wonder why the heck we got married, why we’re even together, and wonder if it’s always going to be this way. It’s a pretty miserable feeling, and I cannot imagine having another issue to go along with that, like abuse or addiction. (But I know those situations are much more common than we think.)

The couple who spoke about the cycle of marriage was right – it’s a cycle. Just like you can’t stay in True Joy forever, you don’t stay in Disillusionment forever. You have a choice. You can run away – which often feels like the easiest solution, I’m not going to lie – or you can stick it out and make it work.

Like I said before, a lot of times it doesn’t take much to turn things around. Sure, it feels like a lot of work, but it’s not. Sometimes the hardest part is acknowledging how prideful I’m being in a certain situation, or to realize I’m subconsciously keeping score when it comes to how many responsibilities we each have, or to just go to Confession because I’m being so bitter and resentful I can’t think rationally.

Just start with one small thing, and go from there. Don’t believe the lie that you’re stuck in an unhappy marriage or that there’s no possible way to reach True Joy. It’s definitely possible, and it does take work, but once you’re over that “hump”, so to speak, you’ll have a hard time remembering why you were ever disillusioned in the first place.

Once you realize that marriage really does continue in this cycle – a vicious cycle, it seems sometimes – you’ll be prepared for the next time Disillusionment rolls around. You will know from experience that although it feels like it will last forever, it won’t, and that you will make the decision to stay in it together until you finally reach True Joy again.
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True joy, obviously 😉❤️

Praying for your spouse

Since I have difficult pregnancies, I can’t do nearly as much as I would like around the house and I have to limit errands outside the house because they tend to bring on contractions. That means Logan has even more responsibilities, which is hard because he’s already worried about our baby in utero. He tends to freak out whenever I do too much.

When I was pregnant with our middle son – which was probably our most difficult pregnancy to date – I couldn’t help but feel like the pregnancy would be much less stressful if Logan would just chill out. He didn’t want me to bake if we had too many dirty dishes already, but then he didn’t want me to dirty any more dishes once they were all clean! It was slightly ridiculous – and that was just one example.

Even though I noticed that I had more contractions when I had a busy day, I just wanted Logan to trust me enough to know that I would stop and rest when I felt like my body needed it.

I felt bad complaining (to myself, and in my journal) about Logan so much, because I knew how hard he was working and that he was stressed and all…but he was seriously stressing me out more than the pregnancy at one point.

During this whole frustrating time, I had started to ask St. Joseph for his intercession for Logan. I knew St. Joseph understood Logan and his overwhelming sense of responsibility for his pregnant wife and family. So, I prayed a novena to St. Joseph specifically for Logan to be less stressed and for him to be able to handle everything better throughout the pregnancy.

I kid you not, right after I finished that novena and the day after I journaled about my frustrations with Logan, he suddenly told me how he wouldn’t tell me what to do or not to do anymore during the pregnancy.

And the first thing I said (after I picked my jaw up off the ground) was, “Did you read my journal?” To which he responded no, and I had to laugh because it was like my prayer was answered the next day. Logan said the thought just came to him. So I thanked St. Joseph for his awesome intercession and was very thankful for such a quick answer to prayer.

A few months after our baby was born, our marriage was struggling again. We were arguing a lot and I was feeling really disillusioned. So, I started praying even more for our relationship and for us to communicate better. I thought about talking to Logan about it, but I didn’t want to end up arguing again. So I didn’t bring up anything and just kept praying for us.

A few days later, to my surprise (although I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore) Logan brought up everything. It was obvious that God had answered my prayers again, because we had a really good talk and were able to get on the same page about everything.

Obviously, most of the time our prayers aren’t answered so quickly, but both of those situations reminded me of how important it is to pray for my husband. I know I tend to take Logan for granted, because we’ve been together for what seems like forever, and there always seems to be a million more-pressing prayer intentions for other people and situations.

But I’ve come to see the power of prayer, specifically in my marriage. And really, chances are that nobody else is going to pray for my spouse more than I do, so I shouldn’t slack off. When Logan is at work, probably nobody else is going to think to pray for his protection. When he’s losing his temper with the kids, nobody else is usually there to say a prayer for him to have more patience.

It’s on me. I’m his wife, his other half, and one of the most important things I can do for him is to pray for him. Constantly.
praying for your spouse

Opposites attract

It really is true what they say – opposites attract. I knew when Logan and I were dating that there were many ways that we were completely different. But I didn’t worry about it all too much because we also had plenty in common.

Somebody should have told me that those opposite qualities of ours would be magnified in marriage. Because wow, I didn’t realize just how much Logan brushed things off while I obsessed over every little thing. Or how much he procrastinates on everything while I would much rather do something sooner rather than later. Or how much he focuses more on the past while I can’t help but worry about the future. Or how much he would rather dance and have a good time while I would rather sit and read a good book. (Obviously, he is an extrovert and I’m an introvert – sanguine/choleric and melancholic/phlegmatic, respectively, if you’re familiar with the temperaments.)

The funny thing is, we’ve switched roles in many ways. Now I’m the one telling Logan not to worry about something when he is agonizing over something that is out of his control. Now I’m just as likely to start a random dance party in our kitchen while he looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. Now he is better about stopping to pray about something together when I’m so frazzled I hadn’t even thought to pray until he mentioned it.

Opposites attract, that’s for sure. But in the beginning of a relationship, it’s fun to be with someone who is so different from you. Years later, though, it can get kind of old. It’s hard not to get tired of telling your spouse over and over to please take out the garbage instead of waiting until the next day because he will inevitably forget. Logan still gets so annoyed when he’s trying to shower me with affection and I’m just so not interested. (I have a problem, I know.)

But being so different has helped us both grow, and we’ve learned to [mostly] appreciate our differences. I also know it’s the constant oppositeness that keeps things interesting, and for that, I’m grateful.
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Circa 2006, I think? An accurate depiction of our marriage sometimes 😉