Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.
Who is the person you trust and respect most in the world? Is it the person you married . . . and if not, why not?
Early in our marriage, I confess that it was hard to let go of some of the emotional ties of the past in order to hold fast to my new husband. Both of us had been ‘mature singles’ when we married (I was nearly 35, he was nearly 45), and both of us had our fair share of (often self-inflicted) scars from previous relationships. Until I met Craig, my father had been the only man in my life who had ever never let me go or broken ties with me, and his word was Gospel. So, when conflict erupted — nothing serious, just the normal adjustments required of two previously unfettered people learning to live together — I began quoting my father to my new husband. As you might expect, this did not end well.
My husband, for his part, had spent a lifetime working for two family businesses, and they had become accustomed to having him at their beck and call. When I protested, Craig found himself caught between warring factions, both of whom he wanted to please … and one of whom wrote his paychecks. Twenty years later, I can appreciate what a difficult position my new husband was in. At the time, I remember going to bed, alone, with some regularity. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t stand up for us, and draw firmer boundaries. After all, my dad had always clocked out right at five to make it home for dinner! (Ahem.)
Over time, I learned that just as no two individuals are alike, no two marriages are alike. Integrity, then, comes from ordering your priorities according to the needs of the family, recognizing that this requires balancing multiple needs and realities. And ultimately, it means coming together with trust and honesty, willing to sacrifice our own preferences for the needs of the other person.
It is simply not possible to cultivate an intimate marriage if one or both partners is determined to shut the other person out of part of their life in order to make decisions in a vacuum. It can be tempting, of course, to bear a grudge and withhold trust or even affection. And yet, one of the bravest — yet most essential — acts two people can make is to daily make a choice for love.
Is there a tiny part of your heart that you are holding back? How can you take a step toward love today?