I recently found a note I kept from Lacie. It was a sweet, encouraging note, one of those she hid for me to find a while back, and I saved it to reread for years.
Anyone who has been married for more than a week knows we sometimes say things that hurt our spouse. It’s just reality. I wish it wasn’t true.
I started thinking about marriage in terms of choices, particularly the choice we actively make to stay married, to abide in our commitment. How do we do it? “Marriage is hard,” they say. Why did we do it?
With any choice, we often think we are using all of our logical faculties to guide us, when in reality, our emotions can play a huge part.
If we’re honest, most decisions are made with the desired end in mind, and we just seek information to support that decision.
It hit me in that moment that my choice to keep the sweet note is a small example of seeking information to support my choice to stay married to Lacie.
The end I have in mind is to stay her husband until the day one of us dies. In the meantime, we are both going to make a lot of mistakes and frustrate and hurt each other.
There are plenty of times I’ve said or done something that wouldn’t point to the conclusion that I am a great husband that always makes Lacie happy.
What if she starts saving those memories?
If she had a stack of notes, outlining my shortcomings and failures, rather than all the good I’ve done, she would drastically affect her ability to be with me in a productive and meaningful way.
Would it eventually tip the scales?
It just really got me thinking, what are we holding on to? She could make a list a mile long to tell you all the things I’ve done wrong, from minuscule to some pretty big.
If she began with the end in mind of us not being together anymore, given enough time, I bet she could come up with a pretty good case. And it wouldn’t be because I’m an awful husband.
It’s because we are all not only imperfect in general but not 100% “perfect” for our spouses. And before the romantics attack me, think about it. How could we be?
From nature to nurture, to personality types, to varying interests and skills, personal strengths and weaknesses, and on and on.
Give any two honest people enough time, and you can learn that the point of a meaningful relationship isn’t to be “perfect for each other.”
The key is guarding your emotional state in the midst of it, because the thing that can change that end you have in mind more quickly than anything is not logic, not the “commitment” you stated in your vows...no, it’s emotion.
I know this is an oversimplification to some extent. No marriage or relationship is the same. I know there are extreme situations.
But in my experience, and generally speaking, so much of the direction Lacie and I move (forward or backward) in, is based on what we are holding on to.
So I ask you, if you’re committed to another person with the goal of never giving up, what are you keeping track of? What do you need to let go of? Is it sweet memories or a laundry list of complaints?