Marriage

I wish for other people to have what I have, specifically when it comes to marriage.

I have a husband who helps around the house. He’ll throw in a load of laundry if he needs something washed. And he’ll include my dirties, too!

He loves to cook, so all I have to do is buy the ingredients for the meal. He wants me to come up with the menus and buy the stuff, but he’ll do the cooking. I usually do the cleanup, but he’s done the dishes countless times.

He listens. He often perceives when something is bugging me or bringing me down, and he’ll ask if I’m ok. Then he listens, without trying to fix it or even offering advice. He simply listens, which is often all I need to feel better.

He expresses affection. He used to make a big deal of kissing me in front of the kids as they were growing up (their response? “Ew! Gross!”). He’ll go out of his way to give me a hug. Or he’ll wrap his arms around me if I tell him I need one.

He supports my passions, like facilitating Fresh Hope and volunteering. He wants me to have hobbies. And girl friends. He wants me to be fulfilled and happy.

Things weren’t always this way. After 32 years of marriage, we’ve grown into this. I’ve learned to not assume, and to ask for what I need. He’s learned my moods and body language, and how to respond to them. We’ve both learned to listen more and argue less.

We’re still learning to express ourselves to the other with respect and without angry words. We’re learning to speak in terms of “I feel…” instead of “You make me feel…,” keeping it personal and in first-person. We’re learning to navigate the proper timing for discussions – not after a business trip nor right before bed. We’re learning to laugh together again, like we did when we were dating, before all the stresses of family and life. We’re still learning to talk about the hard things – money, the kids, mental illness.

I don’t write this to make anyone jealous. I write because I see other marriages that are one-sided or lacking love or respect of the other spouse, and it makes me sad. I want them to have more.

I’m left wanting for my friends who don’t have this. I wish everyone could have someone who is a kind, thoughtful, responsive, and supportive spouse, like I do.

My husband loves me as Christ loves the church – sacrificially, generously.

Sure, he has his faults. In all of the above examples, there are times when he doesn’t do. When he assumes I’ll do the laundry, or won’t ask about my mood. Ours is not a perfect marriage; none is. But he tries, and “hits it out of the park” most days.

I feel treasured and valued. I long for that for others.

I hope that we can model what a Christ-centered marriage looks like. I hope we can improve our communication, and our relationship – as a couple – with the Lord. I want even more for our marriage, and am willing to work so it will continue to mature and improve as we grow old together.

And I’ll keep praying for my friends and their marriages, that God will transform them into all they can be.

“It’s as easy as riding a bike.”

My husband pumps up my bike tires – we are going to meander around our new neighborhood, let me get a feel for riding again, and check out the houses and backyard pools. With the exception of a couple times, I haven’t been on my bike for over 8 years!

One of the things I’ve struggled with during and after depression is balance. I’m not talking about managing my routine and getting things done, saying “yes” when I should and “no” when I should, keeping my level of commitment and tasks to a reasonable level. While that’s still an area I need to improve upon, I’m talking about actual physical balance. Riding a bike. Standing on one foot. Walking a straight line quickly, or toe-to-toe. I have to s-l-o-w-l-y pick my way across tree roots when walking in the woods. I always hold onto the railing walking down the stairs. I might even pause on the second-to-last step just to make sure I know where my feet are!

So I get on my bike – isn’t this seat a little high? I can’t touch the ground with my foot! Chris reminds me that was what I had asked for – to sit up tall instead of hunched over, which hurts my back. Oh yeah.

I have a comfort bike, so the handle bars are straight, the seat is a little wider (hehe), the down tube curves gently. You’d half expect to see a basket on the back with a little dog named Toto poking out. When the kids were younger and we would ride on a bike trail, they’d tease me with the tune “Deedle-de-de De Deee De.” I’m not a green wicked witch, and I like my comfort bike!

Anyway, back to the story. So I get on my bike and ride -with a wobble- out of the garage, where I lean forward, and drop my feet to stop so my husband can close the garage door. The bike pedals hit the back of my legs, and the seat pokes me in the butt. Ouch! But I’m ok. Let’s ride.

Chris calls out, “Do you remember how to shift?”

“Yep.” What I don’t remember is how to stop!  I mention this – in a slightly panicky voice – as he pulls alongside me. So he tells me what to do. Slow down, coast, brake gently, and just hop up and off with one leg to the ground. I do that, but not gracefully. And I grip the brakes so hard that they squeal and the bike hits me from behind again. Not too bad, except that it hurts!

Our bike outing goes from a casual ride to a lesson in stopping. I’m not looking at any houses, I’m rehearsing the steps required to stop.  This “cycle” repeats itself multiple times. Each time, he gives me another pointer: don’t use your right hand to brake – those are the front ones and if you hit them too hard, you’ll tumble over the top of the bike. Downshift as you’re slowing. Have one foot parallel with the ground as you step off the opposite pedal. Don’t brake so hard. Just hop off. Good job. Not bad. Not quite. Perfect that time.

At one point, he pulls alongside as we’re riding and tells me that it’s hard to describe how to stop – he just does it.

Did I mention that he rides his bike a lot? Including regular biking trips to the mecca of the mountain bike world – Moab, UT.  Trails like SlickRock, The Whole Enchilada, Poison Spider. Mountains in Nevada, single-track trails in northern WI. He knows what he’s doing. I really don’t.

We ride along, and I say I’m going to stop. It takes me 20 seconds just to think it through. There are a lot of steps to stopping! Then I either screech the brakes, or apply them gently, and I start to get the hang of it. Mostly. Kinda.

Now it’s lightly raining, so we decide to head home. I turn the corner onto our street. There are three people there, one with a very long set of clippers, for cutting branches off the tall Palm trees. He starts across the road – doesn’t look to see if anyone is there until he’s in the middle of the street. Meanwhile, I panic. Can’t remember a thing, so I grab my brakes with each hand, screech loudly, the bike jerks hard, but not to a complete stop. The guy jumps. I shout “Sorry!” and keep riding. My husband apologizes for my lack of courtesy – says something like, “She couldn’t stop, sorry.”

He comes up beside me and says perhaps we should practice again tomorrow. I need to know what to do. I can’t panic and stop thinking if there’s a car beside me or a stop sign up ahead or a piece of wood in the road. I need to practice so that I can be safe. So I don’t have to think about it. So I can stop quickly and smoothly without getting hurt, or hurting anyone else.

As we pull into the driveway, I come to a stop and get off my bike – almost a perfect stop. And I’m thinking about the amazing man I’ve married. He’s so patient with me. He gives good instruction and encouragement and praise. He wants me to be safe. He never laughs at me, or gets frustrated teaching me the same thing over and over. He looks out for me. He lets me try. We’ve been married 27.5 years, and I love him like crazy!

Happy Birthday honey! 🚲🚲