Kristen and I were married for 3 years when we moved to Florida so I could go back to school. Kristen was our sugar mama, working as a middle school teacher and I supplemented our income with part-time work. We loved life. We started to expand our family while there, having the first of our four children. From the outside, our lives seemed to be on the right track.
However, our reality was quite different. We were struggling.
We were both surprised at how frustrated we were with one another. Married a little later than many of our friends, we thought those years as singles had allowed us to mature. I believed our maturity and our true appreciation for our marriage would protect us from the struggles many of our friends experienced while they were married at a younger age. So I told Kristen (and myself) that things would get better once I was out of school and was working full-time again.
We yelled, cursed and purposely said unkind things to one another in an attempt to communicate our own hurt. Kristen constantly said how unhappy she was and I honestly and ignorantly believed it was our circumstances causing the problems.
I questioned Kristen’s commitment to God and her contentment. I told her she needed to bloom where she was planted. (Which was a stupid and unhelpful quote I once saw on a random t-shirt and thought were wise words my wife needed to live by.) Over time, this toxic concoction of emotion, ignorance and pain continued to brew.
So we found a counselor to help us through this season of life. In counseling it only took 3 or 4 sessions for our therapist to share what was going on in our marriage, we were living like single people.
Living single is a common experience for many couples. When couples are close in proximity to one another but not really connected or engaged they are living single. They are living lives parallel to each other, at the same speed, with similar schedules but their paths rarely - if ever - touch.
This is not a new problem. In fact, we see Adam and Eve, the first couple, had a similar problem in Genesis 3:1-7. Adam and Eve faced the first big dilemma in their marriage –temptation from the devil to disobey God. They did not know what the ramifications of disobedience could be, but did know the boundaries God placed in their lives.
We see that Adam and Eve were close, but not engaged in each other’s lives. At this critical point in their relationship, Adam did not intervene. He stood by, almost waiting, to see what would happen when Eve ate the fruit.
When nothing appeared to happen, and she offered it to him, he took the fruit himself and ate it.
Waiting for Eve to eat the fruit, instead of protecting her, and blaming her once confronted by God about what he’d done doesn’t sound very loving to me.
They were close, but yet so far apart. They were running parallel, but on different paths.
When couples find themselves in this situation they often over-react in order to compensate. But it doesn’t have to be hard. We can take simple steps.
For instance, what if we just made the mundane more meaningful? There are things around my house Kristen and I hate to do - folding laundry, dusting, and folding laundry. So we try to take on these kinds of projects together. While doing so, we have conversations and reconnect.
Making the mundane meaningful is not adding “something else” to your already busy life, because the mundane is already there. A side benefit is that it makes a task we avoid go a little faster.
Try making something mundane more meaningful this week and share your experiences with us on Facebook or Instagram!