Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer 2015 Update, Part II: On Marriage and Family

I will update you about the kids in a separate post, but I wanted to write a bit about things going on in our family, in general. 

I love these people.

Those of you who know us, know that most of our marriage has been in a state of constant transition.  We married young and learned to be adults together.  We have gone from volunteer work to working in a restaurant to working in an office to owning our own PC consulting business to working for a major corporation to being a stay-at-home-mom to changing companies after 14 years (that's a combination of both C and I, of course) to talking about what is next career wise. 

We adopted children with traumatic backgrounds and have gone through every stage from infant through young adulthood now.  We have chosen homeschooling and have never settled on just one style of accomplishing that.

We've moved several times, including some major, cross-country moves.  Even the move from New Mexico to Texas feels like a cross-country move because it's literally a two-day drive from where we were to where we are AND Gulf Coast Texas is completely different from high desert New Mexico in climate and in culture.   

We've faced health issues and financial issues.  We have helped each other through crises of faith.  We have both grown and changed as people and somehow, we have managed to find commonality even when sometimes it feels there is none.

C is a big dreamer.  He loves to talk about ideas and plans for our future.  I am more of a realist and I struggle to get caught up in these dreams.  I want to talk about what we are facing today.  We need each other, of course, for balance.  I know that.  But sometimes I forget. 

C's love language seems to fit somewhere between words of affirmation and acts of service.  My own love language used to be gifts based on how love was often shown to me growing up.  As we started raising the kids, I found that I was so desperate for help (and often did not know how to ask), that I felt especially loved when people performed acts of service.  It's in recent years though, as kids have grown and gotten much less cuddly and mine and C's lives have taken much different paths and often feel like we are doing life in parallel instead of united together, that I have discovered how much I need physical touch. 

Somewhere in the midst of all the transition and the busyness and business of life, it has gotten very difficult to keep our marriage at the front of the priority list.  I lost sight of it.  We both did, I think, but I will mainly write about myself here.

At some point early in our marriage, we made the agreement that DIVORCE is just not an option for us.  We don't talk about it.  We don't entertain it.  We don't think about it.  However, at my lowest moments -- when real life is just so hard and I feel distant from God and unable to connect on any level with my husband -- I do think about running away.  I never go.  And I will not. 

But when those feelings are prevalent, I realize that things are out of whack.  I know then that something I'm doing needs re-prioritization so that I can regain life balance.  This is one reason I'm currently on an Instagram break.  I have many friends there (both those I know outside of IG and those I only know within those parameters) and it is my way of staying in touch with their lives so that I can build those relationships.  We pray for one another, we encourage one another.  It's all good, positive stuff.

However, all that good, positive stuff was distracting me from focusing on those closest to me.  Those who should be most important, were falling into the background. 

This break has enabled me to refocus on stabilizing our family amidst the great transitions we've undergone over the past year or so.  The reality that was so hard for me to face -- problems with kid behavior, problems with our home, problems with finances and faith -- I'm realizing that those only became problems because I was too busy to face them until I was buried beneath them.  I'd cast them off one by one into a heap to be dealt with later.  And finally, later arrived.

That time is now.

So now, I am working on communicating better with our kids.  They are growing up so fast! And they are just full of their own strong-willed personalities and needs that only I can fill.  They need me.  And sometimes, knowing how much they need me is exhausting.  But it's completely doable if I have my other priorities in order. 

My marriage.  No matter how important my job as a mama is, my marriage comes first before these kids.  My role in this marriage requires me to be a household manager and a school teacher and a cook and a nurse and a taxi cab driver and a counselor and a personal shopper and a budgeter and a whole list of other things.  These are my jobs.  Not all of those jobs bring me great pleasure or joy individually, but as a whole, when I do them with a good attitude and completely, I serve my husband well.  And as a whole, bringing my husband joy, brings me joy.

When my husband is well-served, he feels well-loved.  When he is well-loved, he is better able to meet my own needs for love.  Of course, it goes both ways -- if he helps me feel more loved, then I am much more energized and willing to to serve.  But someone has always got to give first.  I'm trying to do that more often instead of just waiting around for him to serve me first.

At the forefront of all of these relationships is my relationship with God.  I don't know about you, but when times get really hard I go one of two ways: towards Him or away from Him.  When life is difficult around me, I tend to lean into Him more.  He becomes my very breath and I cling to him for dear life.  But if there is conflict within me, I shut God out.  I stop reading my Bible.  I stop worshipping Him.  I stop praying -- well, the real prayers.  The deep conversations I otherwise enjoy having with God.  I never stop believing in Him and I never doubt that my home is in heaven, but I do try to avoid dealing with the relationship with Him that needs constant work. 

I guess it's a theme for me.  External conflict means that I reach out to God and to my husband.  Internal conflict means I shut down and shut everyone out.  When I have too much internal conflict, my response creates a lot of external conflict.  Then what?

It's a wake up call.  Thankfully, the Lord has given me the ability to not shut down completely when there is both internal and external conflict.  His Spirit in me has given me the fighting chance to get it right.  So here I am.  I am prioritizing time spent serving my God and my husband over all else.  I am working on communicating with God, my husband and our kids better than I communicate with others.  I'm sure I'm offending some in the process ... but I cannot worry about that right now.  I must choose my faith and my family.

There are those who have asked me if I am coming back to Instagram.  The answer is, "I don't know."  I keep it in prayer.  There are aspects of Instagram I truly love and enjoy.  The camaraderie with other mamas.  The life journal it becomes.  The accessibility from my phone that this blog will never be able to match.  The beauty of lives represented in photos.  But even all those things cannot possibly match the importance of making sure my family knows they are important to me.   And they definitely do not match with making more time for the Lord.

If and when I go back, I will need to keep a better life balance than I have done in the past.  For now, I'm still learning how to do that.  So for now, it's best for me to keep it off to the side.

So now, our family is thriving.  We have many challenges even still -- but we are facing them together.  I feel less internally conflicted and so the external conflicts aren't as overwhelming.  This new perspective gives me more mental space to be able to talk about the future with my husband and not fall apart.  I can dare to dream a little bit more now.  This is a good thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment