Mountains and Marriage

This past month, I started climbing mountains.

The town we live in is surrounded by them.  We literally live in a basin bowl with mountain peeks on every side.  No matter which direction I face, there's a massive hill to climb.

I like the view from up there.

Where houses and cars and people look so tiny, like little toy things.  I like how it feels to climb.  To want to quit but set my mind on pushing through the hard, steep parts.  How the way it hurts immediately goes away once you hit the peek and, even though I'm fully aware that there is another incline coming in 100 feet, I can enjoy the level ground while it lasts.

This past year, Andrew and I have also been climbing a mountain.

The struggle of work, hospital stays, and moving across the country did a toll on us.  Rocky peeks jutting out of the plains, mocking us, tempting us to quit.  This wasn't our first mountain, but it was the highest.  The hardest climb we've ever faced.  And we hit it at a time when we were both wore out.  Each of us emerging from our own personal marathons only to find this impossible hike waiting on us.

Can I be ultra vulnerable for a minute? 

This year had done a number on us.  And after some of the worst days of our marriage, we realized that in all of the changes this year, all the stress and worry and scary situations, we hadn't turned to each other.  We had very, very slowly started walking in opposite directions.

We've been married 12 years and, from the friends I've been able to confide in that are around the same point in marriage, I've learned that what we were going through is really common.  But that fact doesn't make it any easier.

The details of it all don't really matter.

He failed me, I failed him.  Different offenses, same result.

What does matter is that we finally noticed.  It finally got so damn unfamilliar that it couldn't be ignored anymore.  We paused and waited and tried to see if we could find each other.

It was hard.

There was a lot stacked against us, a lot to justify calling it quits and walking away.

But then again, there were a lot of reasons not to.

During late night phone calls and deep talks that went on for hours, we realized how much we missed each other and after a whole lot of soul searching and grace giving, we decided the mountain in front of us wasn't unclimbable.

We talked until we got down to the root of what was wrong.  We looked past the cold facts and searched for the core of the problem.  For us that problem was that in the stress of this past year, we quit needing each other.

Andrew's job, my job.  We were both so good at them that we didn't need the other person.  Of course, while we were going through it, in the day to day, it just felt like we were doing what we had to do.  Demands on Andrew from work made me feel like I should take care of all home things without him.  Me handling everything at home made him feel like I didn't need him at all.  The biggest parts of our day became vastly separate and the space between us grew.

It wasn't all bad.  When our days crossed, we enjoyed each other.  We had fun together and those moments allowed us to feel like the way we were living was OK, normal even.

We've come a long way in the past few months.

We learned what it meant to forgive. 

Not that surface level forgiveness that holds on to the hurt, ready to hurl it back up, but true, deep, forgiveness.  We resolved to do whatever it took, which hasn't been nearly as difficult as I expected.  We talk more, date more, do all the things we can to show the other that we love and miss and need them.  We tore it all down, all the way to the foundation, and are rebuilding.  It's hard and it's still a daily decision to not give up.  To trust and love and do the hard work.

I toyed with not sharing any of this and just moving right along.

But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered how honest y'alls emails to me have been.  How much you've told me about your own struggles.  And you have shared in some of the biggest moments of my life, good and bad.  It felt like Shame to not share that our marriage hit some rocks and it felt dishonoring to the hard work we are doing to not mention that the unsavable is savable if you choose to do the work.

And just like when I hit my goal on the mountains and remember that I am strong and capable, this trial reminds me that what we have is precious and eternal.  And that makes this adventure worth it.

Hard and, at times painful, but worth it.


Amy said...

Thank you for this. I am facing some mountains of my own. It always encouraging to hear it will be worth the climb. <3

Anonymous said...

So glad you decided to climb ♥ instead of giving up!

Amy King

Alana said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I have been married 11.5 years and we have faced more than a few mountains in the last 2 years and are working together to climb them. It is not easy, and it is a choice to stick it out, have the tough conversations and begin building it back up. There are days I feel like we take 1 step forward and 2 back..but sometimes you have to go backward to go forward. Kudos to you both for putting in the work and not giving up on each other.

Corina Relf said...

Thank you for posting this. It sounds like things me and the hubby have and are facing. Just knowing that we are not alone is really inspirational. Sending you love from Indy.

Corina Relf said...

Thank you for posting/writing this. Me and the hubby have and are facing some of these same things. Knowing we are not alone is inspirational.
Sending you love from Indy.

Mary A. said...

I usually just lurk, but I wanted to thank you so much for posting this. I appreciate your honesty more than you will ever know. My husband and I have also been going through a difficult time in our marriage this past year and our oldest daughter starts kindergarten homeschool this September. I think over the years of reading people's homeschool blogs I've built up the idea in my head that the families I read about are perfect, and we aren't, and couldn't possibly ever compare. There's a lot of pressure to succeed at this- marriage and schooling. Somewhere I think I got it in my head that we were failing if things didn't work out perfectly and I so needed this reminder that real life happens, and that's fine. I wish you and Andrew all the best, and am so glad you were willing to share your mountains. It makes those of us that are climbing our own not feel so alone.

Sweet Tea said...

I've been married "forever" and I've climbed a few mountains along the way. It really all comes down to commitment. So glad you are both working on the problems and committed to your family. You'll be so glad that you did. It's totally worth it!

Heather said...

I love this post- and I am so glad y'all are going to brave this climb together.