2 Cor 12v9

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

A Marriage Appreciation Post

I’m unsure about posting this as it’s going to sound like a great big pity party. I’ve started writing similar posts before and I end up deleting them for that reason.

But two things have struck me recently. One was listening back to a seminar I was doing a few weeks ago, where I shared my story. I was struck at how, when I talked about my loss, it might have come over as pretty matter of fact (though I know things generally sound different on a recording than they do when you’re actually there). I think it was partly because I wanted to move on to the points I was making, and also because I’m used to telling the story by now, but I don’t ever want to give out the impression that I am blasé about what has happened, or that losing your spouse is something that you can get over within a year or so.

The other thing is how easy it is to take those closest to you for granted. I know I take my kids for granted every day, and inwardly complain about the responsibility I have to carry. And I know that I did the same with my husband. As an introvert married to an extrovert, I definitely wished far too often that I could have more space and less conversation and I know I missed loads of opportunities to appreciate him as I was busy looking for “me-time”. I could have done with more reminders at the time of how amazing marriage actually is, and that’s what the purpose of this post is.

This post is not for everyone. It’s not for people who are single – it will depress you. It’s not a judgement on those who had to end a marriage for reasons I’ve never had to deal with. It’s for people who are married and have kids still at home, and who are busy under the weight of family life and sometimes lose perspective on what a blessing marriage really is. So if you’re not in that category, you might not want to read this. If you are, I hope it helps you to get a little more appreciation than you had before.


I want you to really appreciate it if you have someone in your life who was there right from the beginning of your babies’ life. From the conception (always the fun bit), through whatever crazy symptoms were endured through the pregnancies, through to the birth. No matter how much you clash over parenting this life you’ve been given, the fact is that if you were both there right from the beginning, the reason you fight is because you both care as much as each other about this little life. You carried it together, saw it into the world together, and were terrified together as you brought it home and wondered what on earth you were going to do to with it to get it to flourish. If you’ve been through tough times, from hospital admissions to fevers to close calls with running into traffic, you have someone who remembers (even if you have to remind them!) the rollercoaster of emotions you’ve been on together. This person has invested as much time and emotion into this kid as you have, and so you can trust their motives when it comes to making life decisions together, even if you’re wanting different outcomes. They have seen what you’ve seen, and walked the path with you (if you’ve been communicating with them well) and will help you see and remember things about your kid that you may forget in times of busyness or change.

I want you to appreciate the sense of team that comes from being permanently attached to another person. As frightening as that attachment may sometimes feel, there is also a reassurance of togetherness and identity. Even if you carry the weight of every day decisions, you have someone you can bounce some of them off on. When you’re not sure, you have someone (if you’ve been communicating well) who knows you, your history, what emotional triggers you struggle with, your financial situation, the likely responses of your friends and family – all the things flying round your mind in those moments when you have to decide on things, big or small, that are going to affect you. Even if you don’t need to consult with them much because your life runs like clockwork and you’ve divvied up the responsibilities to a tee, you still have that person.

I want you to appreciate the value of arguing (yep, I said that). To have someone who loves you and accepts you enough that you know you can let your guard down and blow your top with, and still be understood – that is a privilege. It might only happen once a year - and if it’s happening once a day then something’s wrong - but if you can blow off steam and be brutally honest about the negative thought patterns occupying your headspace, then this is a good thing. Once you’ve voiced that stuff and seen what it looks like outside of your head, your perspective on it can change drastically. Even better, if that other person knows you inside out (if you’ve been communicating well), they can also help you make sense of it. Of course, there may be an initial period of accusation and upset, where more stuff is thrown back at you because of what you said, but if you keep going long enough, with resolution, closeness and understanding being the goal, you can actually become closer and freer as a result of the argument. Unfortunately, this isn’t true when it comes to your kids – blowing your top and using brutal honesty usually has the opposite affect on your parent/child relationship. When it comes to your kids, reactions need to be thought out, carefully worded and not driven by negative emotion. That’s why parenting is so much better with two – you can filter through one another, applying wisdom and grace that kids just haven’t got yet.

I want you to appreciate what each of you do for one another. You may have a dynamic where one of you is away for most of the time. We went through a few seasons where one of us was away in hospital while the other was at home, or when Richard was working two jobs and coming home to a wreck of a house that needed emergency jobs doing for several hours every night. Sometimes it feels all you’re doing is passing a baton to one another. Praise God that you have someone to pass the baton to. Those seasons shouldn’t make up your whole life, but when they’re there, you both know what you’re working for. You’re holding up your side of the partnership to look after the kids or earn the money or do the housework or invest in the project. They may not appreciate every little thing, but if you can get past the who’s-more-tired-than-who debate, then you have someone who is able to occasionally say “Wow, you sorted out the car! Great!” or “Thanks for ironing that shirt,” or “Could you pick this up for me on the way home from work? Thanks!” It’s difficult for kids to see beyond just clothes in the drawer or food on the table to recognise and appreciate the work that goes into making a household run. Their simple chores can look like child slave labour to them because they don’t see the stuff being done while they’re at school or in bed, or wondering why you don’t have time to play their game or take them shopping.

I want you to appreciate that sometimes, even if it’s only on a Sunday morning or when you’re going on holiday, there are two of you to watch what’s going on in the house as people get ready. So that if you’re calling down the stairs that it’s ten minutes to go, you have someone else there to verify that you did actually say it. And someone who can count the chorus of “okay!”s that come from the various rooms so that the one kid who’s still wandering round with one shoe and jam around their face when it’s time to go out of the door wouldn’t get missed when you’ve asked them all to get by the door with everything they need. And maybe they might be passing by the kitchen at the right time when the light’s been left on and someone’s spilled milk on the side after you thought you’d left the place clean ready for your week’s holiday away. Then as you go, you have someone to repeat your mental list out loud to, so that the whirlwind inside your head of things to remember has someone else to check it off too (even if secretly they are smiling and nodding while thinking of their own mental list).

I want you to appreciate that no matter how often you argue about physical intimacy, and wish they wanted you more, or that you could sink into bed without feeling guilty about not wanting to do it after a long day, that there is someone there who does want you, even if it’s not the exact way you would like them to express it.

I want you to appreciate that even if you don’t go out very often on your own, that when you do, you don’t have to always leave the house “babysitter-ready”. You can leave at whatever stage of chore time or bedtime you want, knowing they already know the routine of the house and what needs to be done (even if that comes in the form of a list on the wall), without judging the state you’ve abandoned the house in. And if you’re out during the day and coming home at bedtime, that you’re not having to pick up the kids from someone else’s house on the way and starting the whole bed time routine at the time you want to be arriving home and finally relaxing.

I want you to appreciate someone who might wash up or hoover or clear the table not because they’re motivated by pocket money but just because they see there’s a need. They might pick something off the floor instead of stepping over twelve times and they might make you a (decent) cup of tea unprompted. And when you ask them to do something extra they won’t look at you blankly and say “But it’s not my turn!”

I want you to appreciate that when you see those same traits in your spouse that drive you crazy exhibited in your child, you have someone right there who you can say to, "I don't get it!" and they can explain why your child is thinking the way they do. You can even turn the kid over to them for a couple of minutes or hours and say "They're all yours!" while they work that thing out together. And when you have a kid who has the same personality traits as you (shock horror!) and you find yourself locking horns because neither one of you is going to back down and you're in a negative spiral of conflict, you have someone who can step in once in a while. Just their presence can diffuse the situation. You have back up on your authority, and your child has someone who can perhaps say the same thing to them you've been saying, but using different words or techniques to get through to them. Your authority has greater weight because you're not alone, your child finds it easier to accept it because they feel like they've been heard and understood, and you've had time to cool off. Everybody wins.

I want you to appreciate there is someone out there who sees all your flaws. That's right. When you're married, you can't hide behind a shield of reputation. Someone has seen you at all parts of the day, through illness, tiredness and frustration. Sometimes they can predict before you can when you're about to crash and burn. They can point out that the issue you think everyone else has may actually be more to do with your perspective than their behaviour. They can help you (if you've been communicating well) to walk through those worst aspects of your personality and the character traits that have been dragging you down for years and bring them into the light. They may not do this well. They may point out flaws without having the ability to do anything about them, or bring emotions to the surface that you didn't know were there because their behaviour drives you crazy. But no longer can you deny those flaws. Once they're out there, you are able to do something about them. Your spouse may be the key to revealing them, but a friend, or working through resources, or therapy, or time with God may be the key to dealing through them. What your spouse is giving you is true self-awareness, which leads to authentic character, which means your marriage is making you more into the person you are supposed to be.

I want you to appreciate that if you’re feeling down and overwhelmed, even if they may not say the right thing, or totally get what’s going on in your head, you have someone to lean on. That you can squeeze a hand or have a wordless hug and shed some tears without wondering if you’re placing an emotional burden on them that may damage them, because they’re an adult too, and they get that sometimes being an adult is a very scary thing, and really none of us are 100% sure of what we’re actually doing. And appreciate that on a bad day, that’s what your kids see – a loving supportive unit that makes them feel secure and that they can draw from that unit too without fear of it breaking.

And I want you to appreciate that you have someone to share life’s victories with. When a sick friend gets better, when a debt is paid, when someone joins your church, when your is kid is in a show or does something so kind and loving that your heart wants to burst with pride, when someone compliments you, when an idea has paid off, when you see something hilarious – you get to pick up your phone and send a text, or beam at each other over the top of your kid’s head, to double your joy.


This is marriage – it is awesome. Don’t get tired of it because your spouse isn’t living up to the ideal you’ve set for them. Don’t fall into the trap of looking round and picking attributes of other people and comparing them to your partner. Don’t forget what it was like before you had them in your life and all the situations you’ve come through together. Don’t make your own happiness the focus of your decisions – work on building each other up so that you become the best versions of each other. Don’t forget that even when it feels like you have one more person to think about and give out to when you feel exhausted, you also have one more person who is thinking about you, and multiplying what you give back to you, and to the rest of the family too.

5 comments:

  1. Wow!!!! Just wow Esther. I so needed to read this today. We have the 'who's more tired than who' argument, and the 'why don't you want me when you're exhausted' rows. You're just so full of wisdom and insight and I'm so grateful you write these posts. It did make me feel extremely grateful, and also that my heart breaks that you don't have this anymore and how often I take it for granted. You are such a blessing on this earth and I pray with everything in me that God gives you as many secret keys to their hearts, and intuitive connections with your little (and not so little) ones that make it as easy as it could possibly be for you. So much love for you xxx

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  2. I want you to know Esther what a HUGE blessing you are to so many. Your blog encourages me, inspires me, brings me hope, challenges me in the right way. Bless you for your honesty and bless you for the joy your bring to our lives through your writing. xx

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  3. What an amazing post this is, thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I sure needed to remember to appreciate my husband more. Mich x

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  4. What an amazing post this is, thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I sure needed to remember to appreciate my husband more. Mich x

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  5. Hi Esther, I found this post on Mich's blog 'Mummy from the Heart'. I am single mother but I didn't find it depressing. I found it poignant as you have indeed listed all the things we don't have and that those who do should be grateful for. I wish you all the best. xxx

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