When You Share A Bed With The Person You Need To Get To Know

“If we stay here, this will destroy us!” I can’t tell you how many times I cried this out to my husband during our first months abroad. And in those moments, I really believed it was true. If you don’t already know this, leaving a familiar life and moving someplace completely foreign has the tendency to bring out the very worst in you. You find yourself doing or saying things that just months before you never could have imagined would come to pass. And when you’re married, there’s another person in your home walking through the exact same thing. It’s an equation for a perfect storm!

My husband and I just returned from the field after almost three years abroad. We both unabashedly agree that our marriage has never been stronger nor have we ever been better friends than we are today. So what happened? How did we move past the realization that we were strangers and the fear it produced in our marriage?

Moving to the Dominican Republic changed me. It changed my husband. Although we were experiencing these changes simultaneously, we weren’t changing in the same ways. And since most of these changes were taking place internally, it was really hard to recognize that we were becoming different people. God was growing and shaping us, and revealing all sorts of things to us as individuals, but we weren’t taking the time to share these things with one another. After months of struggle and fear of what our new life was doing to our marriage, it hit us that we didn’t really know each other anymore.

We started setting aside our screens in the evenings, after the kids had gone to bed, to just be together. We played Skip-Bo, Phase 10, or a Dominican card game we had learned almost every free night we had for months. We arranged a babysitter so we could go out on a weekly date. I vividly remember our first night out. It felt unreal sitting across from someone I’d known for so long and not having any idea what to talk about. That realization scared me.

It took a couple weeks to let our guard down and just enjoy being with one another, and once we did, the stories of what God was doing in each of us started to flow. He began to understand why certain things now made me cry, and I had a better understanding as to why certain things now stirred up a response in him. We made the choice to let each other into these inner workings, and we not only got to know one another again, but fall in love all over again too.

We’ve reflected on this a lot, and I often hear my husband sharing with others that I’m not the same person he met at 16, married at 21, or who became the mother of our second child at 25. I’m not sure if that is his own idea, or something he’s read or heard from another, but it is so true! God is constantly at work in us, and sometimes we fight it and other times accept it, but either way we are always becoming someone new. And so are the other people in our lives.

I’ve always loved Philippians 1:6. The Message version reads like this: “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” And I think this is so key to remember not only about ourselves, but our spouses, and others as well. We are always changing. And in marriage that means that the person I said “I do” to so many years ago is not the same person I wake-up to every morning. Nor is the mother who raised me, my best friend from “back home”, etc.

God drastically changed my marriage abroad. By His grace, we pressed into something that could have destroyed us and allowed Him to turn it into something beautiful. If you are married, I encourage you to make intentional time to get to know one another again. And don’t just stop there. Make a choice to keep getting to know one another. If you’re not married, are there others in your life you need to take time to get to know again? Maybe that person is you?

 

 

 

 

 

9 Comments

  1. Jamie August 11, 2015

    I grew up with Laura and beat her to the overseas field by a few years (we ended up in Mexico while she was in the DR).  Her words ring true and she writes from an honest transparency of someone who has lived what she preaches.  The strength of our external ministry is often directly tied to the strength of our internal relationships – with God, with our spouses/children, and those closest to us.

    1. Laura C August 11, 2015

      So true!  It can be hard to slow down and work on the internal things first, but the effect it has on the external always makes it worth it.  I struggled with this for quite awhile… date nights and quiet times with Jesus aren’t what people want to read about in newsletters, but when I stopped caring so much about what “they” thought and worried more about what He says… that’s when He really started to change my heart and use me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

      Love you Jamie!

  2. Casey August 11, 2015

    “either way we are always becoming someone new”

    Yes, yes, yes! Thank you so much for sharing what you learned. Although my husband and I had SO much good training both for our marriage and for our ministry before we headed to the field, our growth/change was such a wild card. What an important reminder that we are constantly changing and that doesn’t mean we have failed to prepare well or failed to get to know our spouses well enough or need to return to the States because we do not have it all figured out.

    I think this concept even goes for sin struggles. Our temptations change over time as God works in us – a new sin struggle simply means we have the opportunity to see the Lord work on us in a new area (can we say “sanctification!”).

    Change – the only constant! =)

    1. Laura C August 11, 2015

      “that doesn’t mean we have failed to prepare well or failed to get to know our spouses well enough or need to return to the States because we do not have it all figured out” 

      Yes!  So many times I thought our best option was probably just to return to the states, but now that we’ve been back in the states for almost 5 months, that probably would have been the worst option.  Living abroad not only changed who we were there, but I think even more so who we now are here.  I’m so thankful we’re already in the habit of “getting to know” one another and are able to recognize the season of change that we’re in yet again.  And I’ve never though about how this would apply to our sin either, but you’re probably right!  You’ve given me something to think about tonight 🙂

  3. Anna August 12, 2015

    I’ve had a few of those “This is going to destroy us” moments!  We have to keep talking and trying, and really listen to the other’s perspective.  Sometimes, there are still those things that you have different opinions on, or different ideas on the right decision to make.  For us, it ends up making us stronger as a couple and closer together.  But in the middle of it, it doesn’t feel that way- it just feels hard.

    1. Laura C August 12, 2015

      It is hard!  I too have seen how these are the moments that strengthen us the most though… as a couple and as individuals.  I like to think of it as the “messy beautiful”.  The hard times can be so messy, but there’s so much beauty that comes out of it when we allow Him to work in and through us in the midst of it all.

  4. Jennifer Ott August 12, 2015

    I needed to read this today!  The Lord has brought us so far in our almost-12 years of marriage and 4 children, but we are leaving less than a month for Africa, and even the preparation has been a rocky journey.  Our roles in our family, our differing gifts, our unique jobs, and our temperaments have shifted and changed so much already!  I am slightly terrified for what is ahead, but trying to rest in the confidence that the One Who has gone before me knows all this.

    My husband and I are leaving tonight for one night on our own.  I balked at the idea with so much still to do, but his article makes me glad I agreed!

    1. Laura C August 12, 2015

      Jennifer I hope you have a WONDERFUL time connecting with your husband tonight!  Keep pressing in to him (and Him)… especially in the midst of this busy season.  It can be the easiest thing to let slip, but really it’s what we need to prioritize more than anything.

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