We Still Do

9.14.2016

*Note: Jordan read this post before it was published and approved. Nothing I say here was written without his okay.

I have always hated plot lines in books and movies where a couple got divorced. Whether it happens after one year or twenty, it deeply saddens me. I do not believe couples get married thinking their relationship will end with divorce. We aren’t lying when we promise to love “until death do us part.” But at some point we get tired of fighting, tired of forgiving, tired of loving, and we start to drift apart. It becomes easier to give up than dig in.

In May, Jordan and I celebrated our five-year anniversary. Year five was, for both of us, the hardest of our marriage so far. It was a tough transition adding a baby to our twosome. Obviously having a newborn is stressful, but weeks of late-night feedings and early mornings wore us thin, and we were on edge with each other constantly. We drifted past each other in a constant stream of “I’m sorrys,” which had started to lose all meaning. I don’t mean that to sound dramatic, but the truth is, neither of us were happy. 

I remember going into the room where he was sitting at his computer and asking him, "Are you happy? Happy with us?"
"No," he said. 
And I replied, "I'm not either."

Our anniversary in May came at the perfect time to hit the reset button and helped us both to realize that we want to be intentional about the health of our marriage.

Since then, we have both seen a vast improvement. Not that we haven’t had an argument or two (or ten) in the meantime, but we each recognize that our marriage is something we want to fight for, that we love each other, and that love sometimes isn’t all hearts and butterflies but that it actually takes work.

One thing we started doing is praying together every single night. 

We used to pray together, but it was never on a consistent basis. We fell out of habit because when you’re not getting along with someone you really don’t want to talk to them, much less pray with them. We have also been recognizing triggers and ways that each of us react to the other, often without even really thinking about it. And we have been intentional about communicating with each other well.

Writing about marriage struggles is not necessarily something I want to plaster all over the Internet, and of course I’m only giving you the most basic of overviews. Jordan and I have only been married for five years, so I definitely can’t claim to have decades of wisdom on this topic, but I wanted to share our story so that if you find yourself in a similar boat, you can know you aren’t alone! Satan is the great destroyer of families, and we have to be on guard. We have to be intentional about our relationships with our family members, especially those we live with and see every day.

I do think it is good to acknowledge that marriage isn’t always full of heart eyes. Sometimes it’s just plain hard work, especially when there are stressful factors involved like a crying baby or a new job or a big move or just the daily grind of regular life.

It’s okay to admit that your marriage is not all that it could be. It's okay to admit that you're in a rough patch. The important thing is to decide how to move forward together once you realize this. I also suggest you start praying for each other and praying together about your marriage. This will help you grow closer to each other and closer to God. Finally, tell someone. It’s never a good idea to bash your spouse to other people, but it can be very helpful to share your struggles in a supportive environment so that your close friends and family can be praying for you. Maybe some of them have been there too and can offer helpful advice.

I know that for me, I am very thankful to have wonderful examples of godly marriages from both Jordan’s and my parents and grandparents. I hope Jordan and I can be that kind of example for our children one day.

I hope you will excuse a lengthy quote from C.S. Lewis, but I thought this was too good not to share. And let's be honest, any time is a good time for C.S. Lewis.

“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last, but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last.

"If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? 

"But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. 

"‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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40 comments:

  1. Adding a baby really can and does take a toll on a marriage! When Caleb was a newborn, we were both so exhausted, frustrated, stressed and constantly biting each other's heads off. I think most couples go through this! Lately, we've also been trying to be more intentional in our marriage and have been much happier that way. Thanks for sharing your story! People need to know they're not alone.

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  2. I love all of this, including that lengthy C.S. Lewis quote. My husband and I are celebrating 5 years this fall, and in that time we've added 2 babies and 7 major moves. I resonate with everything you've written about the strain on your marriage lately, and the intentionality with which you and Jordan are moving forward. Thank you for sharing your lives and encouraging those of us who read it and think, "me too!"

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  3. I've been there (and a lot worse) and can offer these bits of wisdom from our 17 years of marriage: 1. When people ask my husband how we've been married so long and through [whichever tough time] he says "forgiveness. Just forgiveness." We have to forgive the little things and the big things. 2. Fight. If you reach the point of not fighting, simply because you don't care to/have the energy to that's a giant red flag. Healthy fighting is good. 3. My favorite quote for any hard time: "Never let Satan put a question mark where God put a period." You were put together by God for His purpose. Period. :)
    May God bless all three of you!!

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    1. What a wonderful quote! I love that. Thanks for sharing. And congratulations on 17 years. Not a small feat in today's culture.

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  4. So beautiful, Amanda. C.S. Lewis is amazing, really! I hadn't read that quote in a while. Thank you for your honesty! Marriage isn't always easy, but its worth it. I'm glad that you and Jordan have each other and are not only committed to praying together, but praying FOR each other as well! <3

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    1. I love that CS Lewis quote! I thought it fit so perfectly.

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  5. Babies are hugely difficult additions to a marriage and I think everything you've said here is exactly right. Good for you guys for recognizing that things were getting off track. We went through the exact same thing and it's crazy how easy it is to let someone new become your marriage's #1 priority.

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  6. What a great post! & it's incredibly relevant for anyone in any stage of a relationship with someone, too. Thanks for opening up about such a personal topic!

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  7. Thanks for sharing. Marriage is HARD word and I think it's important for that to be acknowledged! Good for you guys for realizing you aren't where you want to be and doing something about it!

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  8. love that you share my love for c.s. lewis! and I agree with you on this whole thing. we are coming up on five years, and for us, our first year of having a baby was good, it's been the second that's given us the most "growing pains" (probably because it came with house projects, health issues, new jobs, and a pregnancy...). there is something about just speaking the words, "we need to be better to each other" that can jumpstart the path to doing just that.

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  9. Thank you for sharing your heart, such beautiful, raw honesty <3 Keep fighting the good fight because the best has yet to come, love!

    Fallon @ Mountains & Mimosas

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  10. I so adore you sharing this because marriage IS hard... & takes a lot of work & investment in each other & the relationship. More people should acknowledge this. When you have 2 people willing to work at it, you have a great marriage.

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  11. Love, love, love this! Thanks for sharing your struggles and just for being vulnerable. Really great post. I'm still trying to find the balance between sharing my struggles with friends vs. sounding like I'm just complaining about my husband, but it has been SO helpful to talk through some issues with other married female friends, and even pray about it with them.

    I love that you mention the two of you praying together and how that's helped. That is definitely something Freddie and I always have good intentions of doing together, but we rarely do. Time to step it up!

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  12. I'm sure this means a lot to you & Jordan to share. I wonder about the toll a child will take on my husband and I someday. We are a good team- though we argue and drive each other nuts weekly- and I'm nervous to upset that someday. You guys are just riding the rollercoaster of life. It was good to notice the dip verses exiting the ride altogether :)
    Stories about divorce or infidelity break my heart. When I hear about friends struggling in their marriage my entire body grieves for them. I pray for K almost every night and I'm always asking God to be present in our marriage- He's the glue that holds us all together.
    Thank you for sharing this. I'm glad 5 Years came when it did and flipped the tables for you and Jordan!

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  13. This was beautiful. In a world where people make jokes about "the old ball and chain" and "I can't do this anymore" or "I'm just not happy" are considered viable reasons for throwing in the towel, it's wonderful to read HONEST stories about people who CHOSE to love, respect, and stick it out.

    Attacks on marriage start so early on these days. Before I got married, I was told that I should "just go to the courthouse and forget the whole wedding business" because "y'all will be miserable in two years anyway." The week after I got married, someone informed me that "the first year is fun, but after that... eh... not so much."

    "Really? Really?!" I wanted to say. Maybe rather than telling me how it's going to suck and how I just need to get ready for the worst and, oh yeah... "always remember that you can get out of it if you have to"... why not encourage selflessness and sacrifice? Why not talk about showing respect even when you don't feel loving? Why not talk about how to stick it out rather than how to get out? How about being intentional?

    I've been married for a little over a month and I can already testify that things are better when my husband and I MAKE AN EFFORT TO SERVE EACH ANOTHER. When we slip into selfishness, that "newlywed" feeling that's supposed to make things so great flies out the window.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles with us... and your victories. :)

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

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  15. I actually read that C.S. Lewis quote a month or two ago while reading Mere Christianity and almost stopped reading to applaud him. It's just so good.

    I'm really glad you wrote this. I feel like people only talk about the heart eye moments of marriage, and while that's awesome, that's just a part of it. We survived the newborn days in tact, but before having a baby, we went through some major crap together, and it is basically a miracle our marriage made it out alive. Prayer is such a huge thing, and it is God's hand that has kept us together and fighting for each other.

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  16. Beautifully written. Marriage is hard work but communication is so important and makes the world of difference.

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  17. This is beautiful, and I love that quote. Thank you!

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  18. Thank you for sharing and know you aren't alone! I thought we were "good at marriage" (whatever that means, ha!), until the kiddo entered the picture. Um, hello reality. It was such a huge adjustment for our marriage and one that we weren't prepared for at all. Luckily, things can and do get better with work (and sleep). Sometimes I still have to remind myself that Steve isn't the enemy! I think this is definitely a topic that should be talked about more openly - especially by Christians. Your honesty is refreshing.

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  19. Marriage is hard! Thank you for your openness and honesty. We all go through rough patches, and it's easy to forget that they're part of life. For better or worse!

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  20. Thank you for sharing! It's so refreshing to hear how "normal" it is to go through rough patches!

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  21. We are right there with you! Our year was so hard- but we seem to be getting back to being a bit more calmer and relaxed and less overstressed and at each other's throats. You're right- acknowledging it was the key. Thank you for sharing!

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  22. I think that stepping back and asking if you are happy and then working towards getting there is what marriage is all about. I believe all marriages are going to have their ups and downs and that we constantly have to strive to keep it together. I think it is great that you guys are working on that, as we all should be. I know that I get nervous sometimes about my relationship once baby comes but I think being aware that it could change things is part of the battle.

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  23. I read this portion in Lysa Terkerst's newest book "uninvited"

    I very much feel like my struggle is against them.
    I have been deeply hurt by this struggle.
    It’s hard to see that my struggle isn’t with them or caused by them.

    However, truth tells me something different. Truth says I have an enemy... but it’s not the person I’m trying hard to forgive. They may very well be the cause of some hurt in my life, but they’re not my enemy. And I may very well be the cause of some hurt in their life, but I’m not their enemy.
    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

    Satan wants to destroy marriages. He wants to ruin families. If we can just take a step back and look at the bigger picture- WHO is really my enemy and WHO it is I am actually fighting, it can be a game changer.

    I appreciate your openness, as always, Amanda.

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    1. What a powerful quote. Thanks so much for sharing that, Courtney. I need to read that book. I've seen it around a lot lately!

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  24. Beautifully written. I admire both of you for stopping and saying "Hey, let's work on this." I'm sure so often couples don't even want to address when times are hard. I think we can all get too wrapped up into thinking that marriage should be easy and perfect. It's only like that in the movies. As life changes, we grow, they grow, it's bound to change and you need to be constantly adapting. I feel like in addition pre-marital counseling, couples need to spend much more time learning how to build a successful marriage than picking out wedding details :)

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  25. I love your blog, your writing, and your honesty so much Amanda. I appreciate that you make me laugh on some days, make me think on other days, and challenge me on other days. Having a baby has rocked our marriage- not necessarily in a 'we aren't happy right now' way but definitely in a "How the heck do we carve out time for US?" way. Sometimes fears creep in about how things are changing but I think the best thing to do is acknowledge that "we" need to be intentional in our marriage more than ever. It's so easy to let the days fly by and barely get a 10 minute actual conversation in before collapsing at night and we don't want that! Thanks for opening up and for challenging me to ALWAYS work on my marriage :)

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  26. Incredible post! I love the honesty and openness behind it...and the "how we do it" advice. I think "The Five Love Languages" book is a MUST READ (multiple times) for all couples.

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    1. YES. I am a huge fan of the love languages, and we talk about them often.

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  27. Thank you for sharing so honestly about this rough patch. Having a new baby, especially a first baby (we've never done this before!), is a huge stressor on a marriage as we learn to navigate new roles and responsibilities. Dan and I keep committing to praying together every night, and then we do it once and forget for another month. Thanks for this gentle nudge to really, truly make it habit. There are a thousand other habits I know we need to develop to grow closer together in this season, but that one is the priority.

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  28. C.S. Lewis is the bomb. I read some marriage book years ago that mentioned a story about a couple that had been married 50 years, and they still listened to sermons on marriage together and went to marriage retreats--when asked why, they said something along the lines of marriage is too important, too precious, to ever become arrogant, as if you know everything, and stop learning about marriage and stop pursuing the best for your marriage. That impacted me a lot--if thise couple married 50 years thinks they still have learning to do about marriage, if they still have to nurture it and grow...then who am I to ever think that I'm good enough already?

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  29. I wonder why so many people hide that marriage is hard work? I mean we all know it is. And adding any life change is a huge huge deal. Moving abroad, moving back, buying a house and figuring out life again has been super hard for us so I can't even imagine having a kid in our life.

    I will be honest and admit I sometimes get jealous of people who always seem happy with their spouse and lovey dovey. I mean how is that possible? I know I shouldn't compare and I know social media is like 5% of someone's life but for reals???

    Anyways, here are a few things that have been helpful for me lately:


    1. A mentor that is not family! Moving back was majorly emotional for me and I finally told Dave that I was going to have to go to counseling or get pills or something because I was going nuts for a while but we both decided a mentor for me would be good instead. I prayed about two women and I asked a lady at my church. She is godly, is older than me and has a lot of wisdom to give. It was a little humbling to ask her but I'm so glad I did. I meet with her tomorrow actually. Anyways, I'd encourage you that if you feel like that is something that would help you, to pray about it. I only meet with her once a month or so so it doesn't take a bunch of time but it is nice to know that someone that isn't family will be objective and helpful.

    2. A friend - Husband bashing is not good but I do believe it is so helpful to have a friend who knows that you love your husband but will also let you vent when you are frustrated. I have a friend like that and our husbands know we talk about our marriages with each other and it is really helpful. We pray for each other a lot too and it's just been a big huge help these past 6 months.

    3. The Love & Respect Book - Have you read that? My mentor gave that to me and I'm probably not even 1/3 of the way in. I read it and am so convicted I have to process it and then a month or two later I pick it back up. If you haven't read it I recommend it.

    I will keep praying for you and Jordan. A verse God gave me a while back in regards to marriage and life is Galatians 6:9 - And let us know be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.

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    1. Jordan and I read the Love & Respect book together, actually, when we first got married. We would read a chapter a week and talk about it together, and we continue to mention the things that book discusses. I recommend it to everyone! Thanks for sharing. I will continue to pray for you and Dave. I am sure it was really stressful to come back and have all those big changes, and I'm glad you have a friend you can vent to.

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  30. Thanks for sharing this! I love hearing how other's work and fight for their marriage. Our marriage isn't always rainbows and sunshine, this summer it felt kind of hard, we we're busy and stressed... so when we went to bed and when we woke up I started telling Tyler, "we're in love." It's mostly because I'm a nerd, ha!

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  31. i appreciate you sharing this - we all know life is not roses and rainbows, and marriage certainly isn't, but sometimes it's easy to forget when it seems like everyone is acting like it is. we don't have kids and my marriage takes work. i get equally irritated and envious of people who don't seem to fight with their spouse. i'm not super jealous or wish my life was different, it's just hard not to compare sometimes. anyway. when people ask me why we haven't had kids yet, as much as i want to, we've only known each other 6 years, married for 3 or 4 years. we've only been in the same country for just shy of 5 years lol. i think marriage is like a house, you need a strong foundation. i'm not saying we don't have a good foundation or we wouldn't be fine with a baby, but i want to do as much as possible so that we are as strong as possible when a baby comes along. i know it will be hard no matter what, but still.

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  32. Thank you for sharing this post. It's hard to be so raw and personal sometimes, but I don't think that we talk enough about topics like this. Bloggers especially want to write about happy, fun times. You and Jordan seem like such a loving couple and I think that's why you were able to acknowledge that you didn't like where you were going and fix it. After being married for 3 years, I know that marriage is work and I always say that I can see how easily people drift apart if you don't work on your marriage actively. This post just might have saved a few marriages.

    Part of that CS Lewis quote really stood out to me. "You cannot make it the basis of a whole life." As terrible as this sounds, with Nick in the military, sometimes I feel like I do make Nick the basis of my whole life. It's only now that we are back in Hawaii and he has a job that makes him work the longest hours he's ever worked that I realized I can't make my whole life revolve around him. If I do that, not only will I cease to be the interesting person he married, but I will also be miserable because he's not around a lot. The military sort of forces you to revolve your life around the military and the active duty member to a certain degree. I only recently had this realization that I need to take care of myself in order to be a loving wife to Nick. I'll definitely be sharing your post with others.

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  33. I am so happy you shared this. I think people are afraid of getting real with people and being honest with "it isn't always heart eyes" amen sister! <3
    p.s. i LOVE that cs lewis quote

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  34. Great post Amanda! I always love your advice and encouragement on top of the reality of life. We can definitely relate to this topic! Marriage IS hard! Especially after a big change with adding a baby to the mix. (Heck, not living together for days or weeks at a time is hard enough for us to deal with). I definitely think that communication is key. Someone once gave me the advice of "pick your battles" and that holds to be true as well. Sometimes I find myself nit picking at the most useless non important things!

    These pictures are great too! :)

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