Sad woman

4 Minute Read

“Do you see or hear me? We are drowning in a cold dark sea and need to find a lifeboat! I don’t think we can hold on much longer. It’s getting cold, we’re drifting further apart…we need to stop looking for the horizon, and start dealing with what’s in front of us!”


For years, I felt like I’d silently screamed at my husband, “The things we’re doing/not doing, allowing into this sacred union: they are killing us!”

As much as I yelled, he didn’t seem to hear me. Or maybe, he didn’t understand the gravity. He couldn’t see it: the damage.

Now, ten years later, our marriage was failing.

If you’d peeled back our layers, we would have looked bloodied, bruised, malnourished: nearly expired. We were dying. There were no number of date nights, vacations or gifts that could “fix” us.

Behind the gloss of two cars, two beautiful children in a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood, you would think it was a perfect life without a care in the world. We had the life of our dreams.

But our veneer was chipping. I showed up to my workday in sweatpants more often then not, throwing together a last-minute “meal” most nights, communicating purely for transactional purposes. My marriage was lucky to see a 5% give-a-damn.

I was hiding.

Hiding from the unknown, and hiding from what I hoped was not the inevitable truth: would we ever feel joy and love again?

The process of slowly drifting from your spouse: it is breathtakingly crushing. Dying love is cruel, like drowning in a pool being filled one drip at a time.

Unrelenting in its need for care, nurturing, and unforgiving of neglect: a marriage refuses to grow alone. It demands attention.

Committed love is so much work. I watched the toil in my own mother and father’s marriage. Some seasons were joyful, others painful, and even still some insurmountable. Still, they honored, valued and loved one another.

How did we get here?

When my husband and I married, we selected a verse together. It’s engraved on our wedding bands:

Ephesians 5: 1-2, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Even early in our relationship, we knew marriage was about selflessness.

As Tim Keller writes in, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, “In sharp contrast with our culture, the Bible teaches that the essence of marriage is a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other. That means that love is more fundamentally action than emotion.”

Keller goes on to say that this isn’t to suggest that marriage should be purely transactional or done out of some sense of duty. But instead, at the heart of every marriage (built on Biblical principle) is the idea that the union is a covenant.

Throughout our 10 years of marriage, we experienced great highs, wonderful joys, and incredible wins. The birth of our two boys, the purchase of our first home together, simply enjoying one another’s company. This all brought us great fulfillment.

Life however, brought many lows.

Our marriage experienced unemployment, loss of jobs and financial insecurity. With the birth of each of our boys, my husband found himself feeling alone and tossed aside. I’ve faced depression, anxiety and substance abuse. As his career has grown, I too have felt alone and de-prioritized.

With each challenge, the wins seemed further apart. We were further apart.

The connection?

Instead of checking in on the pulse of our marriage, we chose to deal with the life challenges we deemed more important. We failed to see that our marriage was the foundation; in not nurturing our marriage and relationship, we were bound to fail in everything else.

We stopped viewing our marriage as a covenant.

The result?

We became transactional and short-tempered in our conversations, stopped being intimate, and fought more than we encouraged.

We weren’t team-mates any more. In fact, we were on opposite sides of the field.

As Zig Ziglar once said, “Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.”

So what’s “the fix?” There isn’t a clear one. There is no fix, just work to be done.

We’ve started with open communication. We’ve worked to be honest about where we’ve been and where we want to be.

Our marriage is a work in progress – and likely always will be. But as long as we can share the umbrella, we can survive the storm.

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