Hey y’all, Caroline and Connor here. (I say Connor, but actually he’s just lounging on the couch next to me and adding verbiage when prompted. Good enough.)
We were born in the 90’s. That would make us millennials (which is confusing, because you would think this would implicate those born in the 2000s). Our generation has been shaking things up since the day we came on the scene. We are more connected, more electronic, and more informed than ever before. Naturally, this also makes us more reactive, offended, and prone to discontent. Enter marriage. These qualities, this lifestyle I just described, is not exactly cohesive with healthy matrimony. Many of our friends from high school and college already have divorces under their belts. Others struggle with adultery, contempt, and feelings that the grass just may be greener on the other side. So we are left with a question: are we destined to a life where love, and marriage, are no longer the greatest of all things? Con and I aren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. We believe changing the trajectory begins with changing one marriage. It starts here, with us. Here are five beliefs we hold, that we think will lead your conversations of marriage in a positive direction. If you’re a skimmer, I’ll put each topic in bold.
The “D” word is off the table
This should go without saying. However, I have a confession: I am guilty of using the word “divorce” in arguments with Connor over the past year and half. He has not. I’m leveling with you, because I am the hot head of my marriage. I have a feeling that some of you may be able to relate. When things get hard, I run. This is a fairly natural reaction for those of us who have grown up self-sufficient. It isn’t the answer in marriage, though. What I am about to say may rub some of you the wrong way, but I’m going to say it anyways. I don’t believe there is one “right” person for everybody. I think that free will allows for more than one path. This means that you no longer have the excuse, “he’s not the one.” When you said “I do”, you made him/her “the one.” Now, I understand there are extenuating circumstances that warrant divorce. I am not discrediting those reasons, just the ones that result from the belief that marriage should be rainbows and butterflies all the time. What I’m really saying, is that divorce is not a rip cord for when things get hard. You’re struggling? Join the club. Your spouse is annoying? Mine too (although he would argue I am equally as irritating). But you don’t get to quit. Don’t give the enemy that. You will be tested and molded along the way, but what a blessing it is that your Savior cares for your marriage enough to continue to grow it!
Don’t go looking for your other half
I cringe every single time someone says, “He/She is my other half.” I understand the sentiment, and maybe you just mean you really enjoy their company, but Connor is not my other half. Many times I have wanted him complete me, but that would be such a disservice to us both. We were put on this Earth as individuals. Each of us has a purpose that is uniquely ours. So I want Jesus to complete me, and to complete Connor, and only then can we move forward in a healthy marriage. As two wholes, doing life together.
**I feel like I must add here that Connor and I are NOT there yet. These are the values we strive towards: the destination. The journey, our journey, is full of many setbacks and detours. Don’t look to us, we are just giving you our standards, in the hope that you will set your own.
Sync your values
A while back, I discovered the Hollis couple. Rachel and Dave have a marriage podcast, books, youtube videos, and more. During their marriage podcast, Rachel stated that your marriage is likely to fail if your values do not align. The Bible says something similar, comparing two oxen that are unevenly yoked. Basically, if both are not pulling the weight equally, the entire unit will fail. To be honest, Connor and I had not addressed this until recently. Connor is more future focused, as many men are. He wants to buy a house as soon as possible, save money for retirement, and budget. So much budgeting. On the other hand, I am traditionally more impulsive. I’m good at managing money, don’t get me wrong, but in my own way. I would prefer to go on trips, buy Gatlin cute clothes, and take our time saving for a house. Neither is wrong, just different; however, if you don’t have a conversation about family values and visions, then even differences in spending can cause major roadblocks. So, what am I proposing? A conversation. What do you value most in life? What about your partner? What do you envision for your family- both now and 10 years from now? Not just the material stuff, but character values. Things like honesty, spirituality, etc. Check in with your spouse frequently, and realign your values. A family is a team effort, and I’m fairly certain that a football team whose players never practiced together, would not be very effective. Same concept: sit the team down and read (or write) the playbook.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find out what it means to me
Respect your spouse. Respect them as an individual, as a partner, as a parent, and especially as a child of God. Equally beloved by the Creator. Do you really believe that? Sometimes I have to check myself. Somewhere deep down, I want to change Connor into the male version of me. I guess that makes sense, coming from a human being… but it isn’t respect. So let me be clear: to think that you are superior to your spouse (or anyone while we’re at it) is not respect. There is nothing admirable about offering conditional love that is only attainable by stifling someone else’s spirit. This sounds drastic, and I’m sure you’re thinking that you couldn’t possibly be doing something so horrible to the person you love… But it happens. So instead of fighting to be right, fight to be respectful. Look for the things you admire, the things that attracted you to this person in the first place. Understand that you are in an equal partnership, and respond accordingly. We drive each other nuts. All the time. But Connor is rational when I am irrational. Connor is carefree when I am cautious. Connor is strong when I am scared. You guys, you need both sides. If nothing else, honor the fact that God brought the two of you together. God thought you needed THIS person. THIS partner. They must be something special.
Say what? Yes, you heard me correctly. At the beginning of our marriage, we felt like we couldn’t (or shouldn’t) spend time apart. Granted we did have a newborn, which changes things; But, we had this idea that to leave the other with the baby, even for a short period of time, was selfish or unfair. WRONG. Connor and I are SO much healthier, and happier, when we have had time alone. More specifically, when I have had time by myself and when Connor has had time with friends. I am an extroverted introvert. I recharge by being alone. I would rather spend my day reading, writing, and just enjoying the silence. Connor is the opposite. He is an extrovert in every way. Connor recharges by spending time with friends, going to parties, and living fairly impulsively (this is by my definition, as I need at least three days planning before going out to dinner.) My point is that my husband and I are two very different people. We need time apart to bring us closer together… and that is far from a bad thing. We are better parents, better spouses, and better friends if we invest time in ourselves. That’s not selfish, its smart. Filling the cup you pour from, gives you more to pour. (Duh)
Friends, we don’t have all the answers. In fact, to be completely transparent, we are struggling through the early years of marriage with A LOT of growing pains and growth spurts. As always, these words are just meant to give you hope, and maybe a little inspiration. Our story isn’t perfect. We don’t have all the answers. But we keep pushing because it’s worth it. Our marriage, and our family, is worth it. Yours is too.