Difficulty and Reward

After 15 years of marriage and two kids, I’ve learned one thing to be true…the most rewarding things and the most difficult things in life are usually one in the same. My wife and I will tell you that there are peaks and valleys. There are times when it feels like you are so high that nothing can touch you. But, there are also times that you have to wage war together.

In marriage, you have to work at your relationship daily. You’ve got to make daily deposits in order to feel all the feels 15..20..50 years later. It’s work because sometimes you just don’t feel like giving anymore.

As men, we just want to fix the problems away and we feel like it should be that simple. Analyze, assess, and execute. But, life doesn’t always work that way. I am learning that sometimes Alissa just wants me to “feel’ through it with her. To feel the emotions she is feeling and process my emotions along the way.

I’m a fixer and a doer by nature. If Alissa is upset, I either want to fix the situation right away or do something, like clean the kitchen or bathrooms or the whole house, just to help make things better. It’s the only thing I know to do because I’m not great at processing my feelings.

I’m learning, however, it isn’t about my fixing and doing. It’s taking the time to actually listen and to understand how she is feeling and how I or someone else has made her feel. It’s putting myself in her shoes with her emotions to understand and empathize. Then, and only then, can we truly connect and work through whatever comes our way.

Love isn’t a feeling, it’s an action and a choice. You don’t always feel like it, but working on your marriage is a daily choice. You gave an oath to do it for the rest of your life. Don’t take the easy way out. If love is worth it, it’s worth the work.

In parenting, a lot of the same principles of a loving relationship apply. To be a great parent, you have to be willing to empty yourself and give until it hurts and then, give more.

From sleepless nights to toy room fights, patience plays a huge role in everyones survival. Early on, your children are completely dependent on you and when you get one child to a stage of some semblance of independence, you have a second. Your second child is nothing like your first, in the way they act, feel, and respond. You have to unlearn what worked for the first child because it doesn’t work for the second.

Through all the ups and downs of parenting, it is hard to not lose your spouse in the shuffle. It’s as if you are two robots, constantly meeting the needs of your two pint-sized owners and you only see each other in passing. By the time you get your kids to bed, it feels as though you have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and came back down all in one evening. Your bodies begin shutting down from exhaustion. Where in the world am I going to get the energy to work on my marriage?

As I am learning, in this current stage of life, you’ve got to be intentional with your time. If you don’t plan it, it won’t happen. Not only is this true with your kids, but especially true with your spouse. Become creative in how you spend time together. We can’t afford a sitter every week, but we can still plan an evening of putting the kids to bed early so that we can just talk, connect, and be a couple.

I’m not perfect as a husband or a father, but I am committed to one thing…working through all the difficult parts to bask in the sunshine of love and marriage.

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