Can I be candid for a moment? Like really, really candid?
It is so much easier to be intentional with my children than it is to be intentional with my husband. It is easier to spend one on one time with each child than it is with my husband. It is easier to strike up a conversation with a stranger at the bar than to brave the initial silence when we are alone without kids.
Back when I dated, I was never nervous about dates. If a guy didn't call me back, clearly he was an idiot. It had nothing to do with me personally. These days my husband and I try hard to "date" each other. That's what the experts say, after all, right? "Never stop dating your spouse." So we try. We stop the hamster wheel, hire a sitter, and get out of the house one on one. We have 2-3 hours to ourselves, and I have no idea what to say to him. I'm shy to look him in the eye. I don't even know how to start the conversation. There's the things we NEED to talk about, the things we SHOULD talk about, and the things I HOPE we can talk about. I'm suddenly thrown for a loop by the realization that I'm terrified for this time alone with the man I love. What if he looks up and sees me, like really sees me, and what if he doesn't like what he sees. My entire life hangs on these random 2-3 hour opportunities. And I am frozen. I NEED to talk to him about some bills. I SHOULD talk to him about his new job. I WANT to tell him how inadequate I feel at all of this. No one told me it would be this way. I don't have the guidebook for this. As the car pulls up to a lonesome Stop sign, Mark reaches over for my hand and gives it a squeeze. I know this is my chance. I take a deep breath and cross the space between us to give him a kiss, a real one. We linger at the Stop sign for a smidge too long before we drive on. And finally, the words start to flow.
Women, if your husband is still pursuing you, let him! Choose to step out of the negative thoughts in your head and let him see you. The kiss, let him have it... And make it a good one. Your husband actively chose you. Now, you have to choose him. Choose him over anything else, including your kids. If your husband has put up the wall, be brave and knock it down. Cross the awkward space between you and seek him out. Elevate him as a man, regard him with respect, and foster shared interests.
At our Women's Summit this weekend (don't worry, we'll do it again), I attended Tracie Carly's talk on Marriage. She had some amazing things to say.... and then she said this:
"Your husband- the one you criticize, nag, and ignore- he would die for you."
In 2013, an armed shooter entered a packed movie theater in Colorado. 12 died, 70 were injured. Significantly more men than women were injured in that shooting because the men protected their women. My husband would do the same, no questions asked. While I would throw myself on my children, my husband would throw himself on me. And yet.... I struggle to appreciate his efforts. I'm quick to suggest my way of doing things. I'm terrified to let down my guard. Wow.
Men, pursue your woman. Don't ever ever stop. Give her grace as she struggles to transition from pooping in front of a toddler to remembering how to be your wife. Encourage her with words and give her a minute to consider all the things swirling in her head. Assume she is barely managing the chaos and the things she is telling herself are not helping. Tell her a different story.
"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years." Simone Signoret