We have a relationship. Me and you. Yes you. I write and you read. Sometimes you comment and share your own stories. I love it when you do that. I share with you the love stories that have weaved themselves into the fabric my life. The pretty shiny bits. I polish them up and offer them to you in tiny digestible portions. Other times I share the uglier parts. Making myself vulnerable, I find myself exposing the stories with rough edges in need of sanding and tender loving care.
Two weeks ago it was the latter. I told you about my marriage. I opened the blinds and turned on the lights. Like the inside of a house at night - the contents usually kept private - it was offered up for public consumption.
And you responded with empathy and understanding. You've been there. Or you are there. You get it. And while the company is nice I'm sorry that you can relate. But now that I've said it, and you've said it, and we've laid it all out there, vulnerable and exposed, now we can deal with it. We can pull out the sandpaper and polish the rough bits. We are the carpenters and the designers who can fix the broken parts and reupholster the worn out parts of our marriages. We can restore them to their former glory. We can be Re-Engaged.
Here is my challenge for you:
1. Each of you write down six behaviours you'd like your partner to change (anything from leaving clothes on the floor, chronic lateness, texting during dinner, etc.)
2. Exchange lists and use your power of veto to cross out two of the six requests leaving you with four each.
3. Each of you write down ten "consequences" that can be completed in ten minutes or less (a neck massage, cleaning the microwave, making and serving a cup of coffee, etc.) Try to make these things that can be easily accomplished and won't seem like too much of a chore - things that involve touching are especially good!
4. Cut up your consequence lists so that they are all individual pieces of paper and put them in separate bowls.
5. Each time you are caught doing one of the things from your first list you must pull out a consequence from the bowl.
Marriage can be one of the most rewarding parts of life. In it we can find strength and comfort and ourselves. But oftentimes it's the small things that eat away at the foundation. Petty annoyances and easily changeable behaviours can take on a life of their own until things feel too far gone. Anger and abuse and incompatibility can strike like lightning and set a marriage ablaze. Divorce can be inevitable and the healthiest decision for all involved. But sometimes a marriage is just a little dusty, rough around the edges, and totally restorable.
I love my wife in ways and magnitudes that can still seem incomprehensible to me years later. And I'm committed to polishing up the rough bits of my marriage until it shines like the first day. Will you join me?