My husband and I were traveling home after a long weekend away with our family. Our daughters were peacefully sleeping in the back seat, and I found myself reminiscing over the past years that we’d shared as husband and wife—years that almost seemed a blur, due to the busyness that comes with juggling a family with the many demands of life and work. I’m grateful that despite the many challenges we’ve faced, our marriage has remained strong and the two of us well connected.
By nature I’m a brooder. Any topic or event will do, real or imagined. What’s astounding is that until recently I hadn’t noticed the way my brooding was impacting my interactions with others, and specifically my husband. I think all women attempt to read a person’s looks, gestures, and other unspoken communication, but I have a tendency to fixate on those musings until they’ve developed a life of their own. Sometimes my conclusions might be correct, but often I’m either off the mark or can’t fathom the full picture, and I’ve wasted a lot of mental energy and emotion without good cause.
Question: My wife and I have been married for 11 years, and though we still love each other, our relationship has grown stale. What can we do to put the magic back in our marriage?
Clark and Mary were in love. Clark proposed marriage, and Mary accepted. But it wasn’t as simple as that. Clark knew that to have a happy and harmonious marriage, he needed to win the approval of Mary’s parents, Clarence and Goldie—especially Goldie. He’d heard how mothers-in-law could be, you know, a little difficult. He braced himself and hoped for the best.
After 21 years of marriage, I discovered a new way of keeping the spark of love alive.
A little while ago I went out with another woman.
It was really my wife’s idea.
“I know that you love her,” she said one day, taking me by surprise.
The course of true love never did run smooth.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
—Erica Jong (b. 1942)
Loving others can be extremely difficult at times. A common phrase to refer to those people that we consistently find ourselves challenged to love is “extra grace required” people. But even people we generally like can sometimes be difficult to love. The main reason we run into difficulties in loving others is sin, both ours and that of those we try to love. … Battling both our own selfishness and sin tendencies and dealing with the selfishness and sin tendencies of others can make love a chore.
“Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.”1 The first time I heard that Bible verse, my heart hurt, and I felt so ashamed. Why? Because I knew there were people I hadn’t forgiven. Yet I really wanted God to forgive me for the things that I had done that hurt someone else.
Years ago, I was in a complicated and unpleasant work situation with one of my coworkers. Things didn’t improve, and I was relieved when he eventually moved on. Some time later, I received a short email from him with two simple words: “I apologize.”
I love reading invigorating stories of people who have started NGOs, founded orphanages, adopted foster kids, created fair-trade organizations, or pulled off some other world-changing feat. But as inspiring as these people are, most of us aren’t called to that kind of mission. We’re in one place, woven through a family and a community, living pretty low-key lives.