It’s not about it getting better

(Image not mine)

A story was shared about a nice doctor husband who, as a surgeon, is always on call at the hospital, doesn’t see his wife or young child often, and when he IS home, he’s so tired he just sleeps most of the time. The wife recently decided she’s had enough and left him.

It’s not like he cheated. It’s not like he was abusive. It’s not like he had harmful addictions.
It’s just that his work was very demanding, and perhaps the wife had expectations of what being a wife/mother should look like and that wasn’t being met. Is that grounds for leaving a marriage or is that a lack of understanding what marriage is?

Other than family doctors who can pretty much run their clinic hours however they like, one of the main reasons I didn’t want to marry a doctor was because of how demanding their work could be. I didn’t know (and still don’t know) if I can handle not seeing my husband days at a time or having to cancel plans if he gets a call or going on separate vacations or trying to have meaningful interaction with someone who just wants to sleep on his days off. But that’s given my personality and emotional needs…some people have done it successfully. Regardless of profession however, EVERY marriage will have unmet expectations where one or both feel like they’re getting something other than what they signed up for. What then?

If things are going through a rough patch, am I thinking, “We just have to make it through the next couple years until ____ is done“? What if after those couple years something else comes up. Someone loses a job. Someone gets sick. Something happens. And marriage continues to not be how I imagined and it continues to be hard. Year after year. What then?

I was reminded of one of my favorite books, “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Marriage is about a covenant; it’s so not about falling in love. A friend said it really well, “It’s not about it getting better, it’s about how you’re going to learn to support each other.” I would add, “No matter how hard it gets and no matter how long it stays hard.” (Granted I’m not talking about abusive or dangerous situations here.) This really resonated with me. I can’t imagine it now, but I think  it’s realistic to expect there will be times where marriage or life could be hard for what seems to be a long while. Changes to health, employment, having or not having children, etc can really spiral a relationship downwards…and I want to have at least thought about the possibility. How will we support each other through it? How will we keep resentment or bitterness from starting or taking root if one seems to be “giving up” more than the other? How to keep ourselves from focusing on how we’re not getting anything out of this and look for an exit?

Anyone have any experiences to share?

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