There are moments in a marriage when being supportive comes naturally. The wedding day. The job landed. The finished marathon. The clean home. The dream realized. The dinner ready and the favorite movie on Netflix. The housewarming party.
And there are moments in a marriage when being supportive is anything but second nature. When the person you love is facing trials and struggles and difficulties and oh-so-grey skies.
We promise for better and for worse, in earnest. Yet when our spouse is walking through that sticky for worse, it’s easy to feel weak. And this is where the threads begin to unravel.
Such irony: the moments when being supportive is difficult are the moments when we are needed most.
So I find myself here, in one of those darker moments. Marriage can be challenging sometimes, no matter what. When the world pushes inward, marriage gets tougher.
The challenge we’re facing these days is familiar, but that doesn’t make it any easier: grad school. Mr. S. is in the thick of things, friends.
What’s that property in Geometry . . . the transitive property? When the one you love struggles, you do too.
Every day, I ask myself a similar question: How can I bless him? And, I ask with equal vigor, how can I keep myself sane too?
Embrace the homesickness. Yeah, this moment, this here-and-now is far from desirable. So I look up and feel homesick for Home.
Fight the negative. I find myself spiraling right along with Mr. S. in the effortless cycle of complaining. Stories are told and re-told and frowns form on our faces. And fight we must. We have to hold on.
Venting vs. complaining. When there is much on our chests, a venting session lessens it. And isn’t that a joy of marriage, friends, to lighten each other’s load? Venting, sharing, letting the one we love in . . . that’s healthy and good. Complaining is when the venting moves to a new level and it’s about more than being heard. There’s a fine line between weight lifted and a bitter heart.
Hugs. Big hugs. Many hugs. Hugs when he leaves for campus, hugs when he comes home, hugs sent in an “xo – Sarah” at the end of an email. We must be each others’ cheerleaders and biggest fans.
Love — big love. In dark times, love must take center stage. Love for our spouse. Love for our community. Love for our support system. Love displays itself in things big and small. There is love in making coffee every morning, love in replacing lightbulbs. We feel love more when we don’t overlook its presence.
And grace, for both of us. Grace for Mr. S., in this difficult moment. Grace for myself too, because I’m not a flawless spouse. I cannot love him perfectly, but I can love him well. Grace is understanding that he’s here and I’m here for a bigger purpose than just us. We’re pieces in a much bigger puzzle, a puzzle we cannot grasp. We move forward, stumbling sometimes, and it’s okay. That is grace.
(PS — A spinoff of the “What should we call me” meme, enjoy What should we call grad school. Mr. S. relates to so many of them.)