A tough topic hit our home over the past couple days, one on which we go round and round the mulberry bush. And despite all my best intentions, when I feel backed into a corner, I still fight my tendency to retreat inward and clam up. It takes me awhile to put my thoughts together so I stay quiet until I get there. Jack respects my space but I know it makes him crazy in the waiting, especially when he doesn’t know what kind of shoe is going to drop. It’s been quiet and polite around here and my head and heart are worn out. When I can’t solve a big problem like this, I know I can at least…
My crew just left for batting practice so I’m settled in with my notes. As life can get wild as a wife, mom, and entrepreneur, it’s been important to me to keep myself structured and on-task. I’ve consistently and with commitment held myself to a schedule and an editorial calendar for this writing adventure. So I open up my laptop just now to check my schedule and as my incredible luck would have it, today’s topic is “bringing your best to your marriage.”
I want to throw my computer through a window.
Sometimes I am not bringing my best, okay? Sometimes I don’t even WANT to bring my best.
“My best” means the civil, level-headed lady who chooses words carefully and speaks with reason and patience and a cool head. (i.e. everything good I got from my dad.)
“My best” is also the sacrificing, non-selfish lady who behaves appropriately and approaches tough stuff with a general optimism and love for people. (i.e. everything good I got from my mom.)
That lady has left the building.
So all that’s left is me, the real lady. The lady who’s hurling her worst instead of bringing her best. The lady who wants to hide in a cave until her feelings aren’t hurt anymore and holler out to her husband everything he’s ever done that’s hurt her too.
I wish that plan worked. I tried it with poor results for so long that I can officially announce: that is a bad plan.
So why do I default there? Don’t I want to be better?
Personal work can be the pits. There, I said it. It means deliberately poking at all the places I’ve deliberately covered up with armor, desperate to hide and protect them from being hurt. It means choosing to look the yucky parts of myself in the mirror and go to work improving them. I heard in a podcast recently: change before you have to. Blew my mind. Because when you HAVE to change, it’s usually the result of something big, uncomfortable, even painful, and scary. Wouldn’t it be much more enjoyable to change of our own accord, before something else is forcing us to?
Change is good (she says as she rocks in the fetal position). But it is certainly not for the faint of heart. What I’ve found is that the more I work at it, the less-badly I blow it. I still mess things up big. But my “worst” gets less gnarly each time.
I am never always going to bring my best to my marriage. That was a dumb topic to assign myself. Sorry, self.
What I can bring is my best in the moment. And I can also bring better after I’ve blown it – with a true sincere apology and genuine effort to repair the damage I’ve caused.
So my crew is at batting practice, and I don’t really have the desire to throw my computer through a window anymore.
What I wish I had was a magic wand that made an easy eye-to-eye fix out of this particular mulberry bush topic. But I don’t have that either.
Instead, I’ll invite perspective to rejoin the conversation here, and compassion to take a seat at the table. I’ll ask ego to step outside, and pride to hold her tongue.
And after my little Cubbies play ball tonight, I’ll say I’m sorry and mean it, thanking my lucky stars that “no one is outside the bounds of God’s amazing grace.”
Is there something you need to apologize for? Make a plan or write a note. And be sure to subscribe to our community for great real-life-tested tips on making your marriage better every day.
Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have 4 children, LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and brand new baby Elisha.