Ahaba App

Do you have a passion-filled marriage?

passion-filled

I’m kind of a word-nerd. (Well, maybe a big word nerd). My degree is in English and I get excited about word meanings, the history of words, the dialects of English, how people choose to use the words they do, the power of words, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, and oh! I could go on, but I’ll stop myself.

One could say that I’m passionate about words, and lately I’ve found myself wondering about the history of the word “passion”. There are “crimes of passion”; self-help gurus and magazine covers ask if we are living passionate lives or promise to help us have more passionate relationships. One definition of passion is “a strong, barely containable emotion”. On the other hand, we also hear about “Christ’s passion” which is his suffering and death. After a cursory internet search, I see that the word derives from a Latin word, meaning “to suffer”. “Christ’s passion” is the original way in which the word was used. The “strong feelings” meaning came later. This makes sense, certainly suffering produces strong emotions. A person would likely not give their life for someone unless they felt strongly for him or her.

This leads me to think of two things:
1. First, this Scripture verse. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15:13 NAB)
2. From the Church document, Gaudium et Spes, we hear “…man [persons] can only find himself through a sincere gift of himself.”

All of this leads me to the conclusion that the way to a “passionate” life and a “passion-filled” marriage, is loving others, including one’s spouse, enough to sacrifice for them. If each spouse does this for the other, their marriage will certainly be filled to the brim with passion.

So what are ways you can put more passion into your marriage? Look for opportunities to put your spouse first. In my own marriage my husband is really good at helping me with the dishes and picking up around the house. Since they are not the most enjoyable tasks, I know it’s a sacrifice he does because he loves me. When it comes to driving places, my husband and I both prefer to be in the passenger seat, and prefer the other one tod o the driving. Often one drives to our destination and the other drives home, but maybe I can drive both ways. That would be a small sacrifice to perform out of love for him. Another thing I could do is get all our children ready for bed myself so that he can go to bed early on the nights he’s particularly tired. These are just a couple of small things that I thought of; I’m sure when you look at your own marriage you can come up with your own list and put it into action!

 

Written By: April

 

 

 

photo credit: KristinNador via photopin cc

How to Achieve 99% Effectiveness with NFP

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When used to avoid pregnancy, Natural Family Planning is 99% effective. There are several important things to know, however, about how to achieve this high effectiveness.

#1 – When one is learning NFP, it’s important to learn it from a certified instructor.

As an instructor myself, I have not met one person who charts perfectly the first cycle, or one who understands the method fully even after the first Introductory Session. The method itself is fairly straightforward, but when applying the method to her own observations, or when learning how to make observations accurately, there are often questions that arise. A woman with regular and textbook cycles may have a certain amount of success with the method, but the woman who learns from the internet or by reading a book will likely have gaps in her knowledge which will reduce the couple’s ability to use NFP with the highest effectiveness.

 

#2 – It’s important to have fairly regular contact with your instructor.

The cycles of a 20-year-old, will likely not be the same as her cycles when she is 30 or 40 or 45. A woman may have confidence in using NFP and in understanding her body but changes in health, stress, the births of children, breastfeeding, entering pre-menopause, or even simply growing older are all situations that can cause a change from what a woman may typically see in her cycle. Anytime a couple has questions or has any confusion, it’s important that they feel comfortable reaching out to their instructor again. I really can’t emphasize the importance of not going it alone. Days, weeks, or even months of uncertainty can lead to a lot of frustration, and mistakes in charting. A quick phone call or email message to your instructor can often give you a quick answer, more understanding, and peace of mind. To achieve the 99% effectiveness, be sure to continue contact even after the initial instructional period is over. It may be years between contact and that’s okay, but anytime you have questions, just reach out!

 

#3 – Charting is a must.

Sometimes when couples use NFP for a number of years and become very confident in using it, there can be the temptation to get a little lazy. Sometimes a woman will make observations and note what part of her cycle she is likely in, but she stops actually charting. Sixty years of research by the various methods have shown that a failure to chart is very risky. In fact, some methods assert that ceasing charting may be a sign of a subconscious desire to conceive! Yes, charting is important.

 

#4 – Follow the recommendations of your instructor.

Yes, I’ve just stated the obvious. Couples that do not follow their instructor’s recommendations will likely not use NFP to 99% effectiveness. In a sense, couples who use NFP get to choose how effective they want it to be. If they have very strong reasons to avoid a pregnancy, they should follow (and they typically DO follow) the rules for avoiding pregnancy very well. If couples choose to take a risk and have marital relations around the edges of her fertility, well, of course their chances of conceiving are going to be greater than the usual 1%. If they are okay with taking such a risk and are okay with greater chances of conceiving, then that’s fine too. They get to choose.

Posted by: April

photo credit: jDevaun via photopin cc

 

The Witness of Marriage

The Witness of Marriage

I attended a Mom’s retreat not that long ago at Elizabeth Ministry Retreat and Resource Center. On the first evening, shortly after we arrived, the other women and I gathered around in a circle to talk, share, and learn more about one another. I found myself becoming amazed at the powerful stories that came out as the women shared more about their journeys and their lives. I was also surprised at the many women who shared how amazing their husbands were. Many of the women shared a story of a difficulty they experienced and how the love and support from their husbands helped them make it through and helped them understand the love that God has for them, as witnessed to them very tangibly by their husbands.

Before the retreat, I was aware of the amazing person my husband is and was thankful for the strong marriage we have, but I thought that what we had was extremely rare. After the retreat, I am questioning this perception. Popular culture likes to portray “the war between the sexes” and likes to pit men’s needs and women’s needs against one another. Of course there are the numerous divorces that occur in our culture, and we are probably all aware of someone who struggles in their marriage. Knowing this, I am often somewhat hesitant to share how good I have it because I don’t want to hurt anyone (and I imagine it to be nearly everyone) who is struggling. But now I wonder if there are many more healthy and striving marriages than I was initially aware. I also wonder if we should be so reluctant to share our spouses’ strengths with others. Marriage is, after all, supposed to be an image of the Trinity to the world, and how inspiring it was for me to see that image alive and well in the many women gathered that evening.

How about you? Are you grateful for your spouse? Would you like to share how your spouse’s love and support have helped you through rough times? Lastly, have you shared your profound appreciation with your spouse?

Written By: April 

 

Quiz!

settingsAt our first meeting about two years ago, when the Ahaba Team gathered together to discuss our vision for an app, we came up with several ideas. One thing emerged though, and that was that we didn’t want to create just another fertility app. We wanted something more. We wanted an app that helped couples track their fertility; an app that educated couples on the relational part of a woman’s cycle; an app that offered suggestions on how couples can honor her relational needs; an app that contradicted society’s messages about how women need to diet, slim, plump, color, tan, etc in order to be worthy (but instead helped them realize how awesome they are as is); an app that helped couples communicate on a deeper level with one another by having the ability to share details of her day and fertility with her partner; and an app that helped couples fall more deeply in love. I know. We have lofty goals, but those are what we strive for. So we were wondering…are we accomplishing any of our goals? Are couples benefiting from Ahaba Marriage Meter?

So….if you use Ahaba Marriage Meter, we thought it’d be fun to offer a little quiz. Please answer in the comments, what do you love most about the Ahaba App.

  1. I like how it helps me track my fertility.
  2. I love the information I learned about myself/ my partner when I read about women’s relational needs.
  3. I love the suggestions on how I can honor myself/ my wife according to my/her needs in the different phases of the fertility cycle.
  4. It has increased my/ my wife’s self-esteem.
  5. It has increased my communication with my spouse.
  6. It has helped improved my marriage.

Marriage Rules

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When it comes to marriage, we all have ideas about it that we bring into the marriage. Some of these ideas can be harmful and some can help us build a stronger union with our spouses. A great help to anyone who is married can be to find a couple that is a Marriage Role Model. For myself, when it comes to people who have witnessed a good marriage to me, I think of my parents. They have passed certain beliefs about marriage that have carried over into my own marriage. Here are some of them.

1. The relationship with your spouse requires time together in order to be nourished.

My husband and I work very hard at spending quality time together and we view ourselves as a team. Whatever life throws at us, we’ll face it together. I often feel so thankful that my husband does a great job of managing his time. He works hard at his job, but he is careful to not let work consume his life. He puts time with his family ahead of climbing any corporate ladder. For my part, I try to value the time he has for himself and for family and I don’t encourage him to become a workaholic. Early in our marriage, we had very little money and lived paycheck to paycheck. Periodically the discussion would come up about me getting an evening job to help with the bills. We always came to the same conclusion: We didn’t want to sacrifice what little time we had in order to make more money. Instead, we would live simply and live within our means.

I’m not saying that this conclusion is the right decision for every couple faced with the same issue, but I think the point remains the same. Whether both partners work or not, they need to put their time together as a high priority. Financial security is important, but if you find your marriage is suffering due to the time away from your family, then the marriage must come first. Many couples have gained financial security at the price of a healthy relationship with their spouse. If this is the case, then the cost of financial gain is too high. Your spouse must know that he or she is worth more than any financial reward. The same is true for dream jobs, housing needs, or anything else. Although many things are important, if these things threaten the health of the marriage, the marriage comes first.

2. Whatever problems one partner faces, is the problem of both.

My husband and I share our lives together and everything we have belongs to both of us. We don’t have his money and her money, but it is all our money, and when problems come up, we share a commitment to get through it together. If we are successful, we’ll be successful together; if we face setbacks, we’ll face them together. Life can be hard sometimes and unexpected challenges certainly come to everyone, but it gives me much peace, that no matter what life throws at me, I don’t have to face it alone. My husband and I are a team and we will work through things together.

3. Be loyal to your spouse.

Don’t tear your spouse down in front of others. When problems arise, it’s important to have a helpful friend that you can confide in, and this may include sharing marital difficulties and spousal shortcomings. On the other hand, making fun of your spouse, making jokes at his or her expense, or freely sharing your spouse’s faults with everyone around you isn’t having loyalty. The dignity of your spouse is worth defending and it is important that the partner’s know that their spouse has their back. My parents passed on to me that their loyalty to each other comes even before the loyalty they have for their families of origin even, or anyone else. When it comes to my husband and me, I know that he would never make fun of me in front of others and even if the whole world despised me, he wouldn’t. Even if I did something deplorable (not that I plan to), although he would not agree with or defend my behavior, I’m sure he would still love me and not turn against me.

 

Has anyone modeled any beliefs about marriage that has helped you in your own relationship with your spouse? What are they? We’d love to hear what they are and share some of them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Written By April.

photo credit: Angelo González via photopin cc

Gratitude

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It’s the word I would use to describe my thoughts and feelings this evening. I am feeling thankful. Thankful for a doting husband, thankful for a supportive family, near and far, thankful for forever friends and cheerful phone conversations, thankful for planned weekend getaways, thankful for the days getting longer and beautiful sunsets on the drive home.

 If you live anywhere in the Midwest, I believe we are in the “dead” of winter, and to me, it’s the hardest time of the year to be positive or optimistic about much in life, unless of course you were smart and fortunate enough to plan a nice trip somewhere much sunnier and warmer. So I guess that is why I am both surprised and captivated by my overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

 I’ve heard many times, “It’s the little things in life that add up to great things” and to me, that particular statement could not be more true. I work with people day in and day out to work on the little goals in their life that will get them going on their path to something brighter. In addition, I encourage people to be more aware of their blessings and accomplishments. It helps them and of course is a wonderful reminder and challenge for me. Yes, I am in a helping profession, but the irony is, the people I help every day, help me, too.

As a Wisconsin girl, I know I have a couple more months of cold weather to endure so I am going to work hard to hold onto the gratitude I feel tonight. I want my eyes to be more open as the ordinary things in life are truly extraordinary.

Written by Molly

The Cost of Love

Advent Wreath

Advent Wreath

 

As I was meditating one morning with my small Advent booklet, I read this sentence: “Advent reminds us that waiting is often the cost of love.” It stood out to me, most likely because my husband is on the other side of the country until the 18th, and the children and I are trying to go on with life while we eagerly await his return.

Those of us who have used Natural Family Planning (NFP) to avoid pregnancy, are familiar with another kind of waiting – the waiting of abstinence until the fertile phase has past and we can make love to our spouses again. In the beginning of my fertile phase I usually start out optimistic and excited. I love the energy boost that comes with the return of my fertility. I like feeling lively and creative. Multitasking, writing, and just the demands of life in general seem to come easy during my fertile phase. As my fertile phase stretches out, however, upbeat optimism, turns to, well, sacrifice. Abstinence is challenging. That’s why some of the early Christians chose to take vows of celibacy. After Rome stopped throwing people to wild beasts for being Christians, some people felt called to give “the ultimate sacrifice” so to speak, but they were no longer in danger of martyrdom. Thus, the vow of celibacy came about, as they viewed it as a kind of “living martyrdom”. No matter how idealistic I may be, sacrifice is still sacrifice and suffering still involves suffering.

My mother always told me, “You always know how much someone loves you by how much he is willing to sacrifice himself for your good.” So it is that my husband and I learn to give ourselves completely, to try to decrease selfishness little by little so that we can grow in love, and there’s nothing quite like suffering to purify love of selfishness. Furthermore, there’s nothing quite like going without to make us really examine what we think of something. We take the internet for granted until we’re in a power-out.  I know of one woman who for years would try to pressure her husband into having sex with her during her fertile phase even though they had both mutually agreed that they wanted to postpone pregnancy. Finally she realized that her actions were just mean. She wasn’t trying to be mean, but nonetheless they were not very loving toward her husband. She also realized that her actions stemmed from insecurity. She didn’t know how to just be herself or how to be friends with her husband. Perhaps she internalized the message from society that says women are supposed to be sexy and tantalizing at all times to have any worth. Whatever the reason, she knew that periodic abstinence was a gift to her marriage. Through it, she eventually knew the security of knowing that she was loved, just as she was.

There was another couple that used sex to feel connected to each other. This in itself is perfectly alright and in fact is partly what sex is there for. It bonds two people together. The problem was that his particular couple didn’t know how to connect in any other way. He didn’t have good listening skills and so his wife learned to keep everything inside rather than risk sharing vulnerable thoughts and feelings with him. Also their lives were busy with work and children and they didn’t make time for one another – time to really spend talking, listening, getting to know what each thinks, or to just have fun with one another. This couple had to learn how to be intimate with one another in non sexual ways, which waiting gave them the opportunity to learn.

Of course, there are many other ways that we must wait. Some military families wait very long periods for the safe arrival of their loved one. People wait for the birth of children, a positive pregnancy test, to hear back about a job, or any number of things. During this season, may we not be afraid of the sacrifice of waiting, whatever it is that we are waiting for.

Written by April.

Two are Better than One.

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“Two are better than one.” It was a straightforward phrase that was in one of the many wedding cards received one and half years ago. I can distinctly remember my new husband and I chuckling as we read the clever handwritten phrase. Although short and simplistic, it is a phrase that has resurfaced intermittently in my mind and as time and life goes on, I realize more and more that “Two are better than one.”

Of course in the context of the card my husband and I received, the phrase was strictly pertaining to a partnership of marriage, however, the reality is we are all connected to someone. Whether you are single, in a relationship, married or widowed we are not made to travel the journey of life alone. We are inherently people who need other people. Whether it’s for a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board when we are faced with a complex situation, or someone with which to share the beautiful sound of laughter, we are made to be connected with others.

Yes, I have to admit that there have been times when I’ve thought I can handle a situation or a phase of my life alone, but the reality is I cannot, or if I do, I do not handle the situation as well as I would have with someone by my side. God puts people in our lives for a reason. In a society that sadly seems to encourage an individualistic way of life, I challenge myself to remember that “two are better than one” whether I can physically see the person standing next to me or; due to loved ones living hours away, I instead turn to a kind listening ear to talk to over the phone; to a short text message, a heartfelt email, or a caring face over video chat.

As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for being connected and for my partners in life; my husband, family, friends, and the strangers I stumble upon each day.

“Two are better than one.” It’s as elementary as that.

Posted by Molly.

The Elephant in the Bedroom

The Elephant in the Room

An elephant exists in the bedroom of many marriages today. It is an issue that affects quite a large number of couples, and yet it is also an issue that elicits such a strong amount of shame and pain, that many people struggle in silence. It is the issue of pornography use. In 2002, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that 56% of divorces involved one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”1 As this statistic was reported in 2002, it is likely that this percentage has increased since then, as the use of pornography is also increasing. From 2001 to 2007, internet porn went from a $1-billion-a-year industry to $3-billion-a-year in the US.2 In 2006, revenue from online subscriptions and sales to pornographic material was $2.8 billion, up from $2.5 billion in 2005, according to estimates from Adult Video Network.3 In 2008, the most recent year we have the numbers for, the adult industry made more profits than the NFL, NBA, and NBL combined.4 Because the issue is so pervasive, it is all but guaranteed that everyone knows someone who struggles with this issue. Although the issue is prevalent, it is at the same time an issue that most people, including those affected by it, know little about. Why is pornography so appealing to so many people? Why is the habit so hard to break? And is there any hope for those who are caught in its grip?

To address the first question, why is pornography so appealing, it is important to understand that many psychologists and neuroscientists are now recognizing pornography use as a chemical addiction, the same as an addiction to drugs or alcohol.  Porn users become addicted to the chemicals their own brains produce during the viewing of pornographic images and masturbation (as the two behaviors are nearly inseparable).  Our brains produce five primary chemicals during sexual activity.

  • dopamine – narrowly focuses attention, causes us to ignore negatives, triggers feelings of ecstasy and arousal, and creates a powerful dependency
  • norepinephrine – generates exhileration and energy, increases memory capacity, and “sears” experiences into the brain
  • oxytocin – called the bonding chemical. Also produced by women during labor and birth, and while she nurses
  • serotonin – creates a deep feeling of calmness, feelings of satisfaction, and releases stress; sometimes called the “natural Prozac.”
  • vasopressin–  released by men, it is a bonding and commitment chemical.

 

How these chemicals affect us depends largely on the circumstances under which they are produced. Although the present society likes to think all sexual experiences are equal and that the only thing that matters is that all partners are consenting, research is pointing to the idea that there is such a thing as a healthy and unhealthy sexuality.  Although the same neurochemicals are produced, they produce vastly different outcomes during different sexual experiences.  For example, in a loving, committed relationship, dopamine narrowly focuses a person’s attention on one’s partner, causes each to ignore any negatives, and triggers feelings of ecstasy. During sexual intimacy the couple creates a healthy dependency on one another. Outside a loving relationship, however, such as in the viewing of porn, the person narrowly focuses on the images and on the perceived positives, ignoring any possible negatives that may come from continuing with the viewing of porn. The person does not think about the possible detriments to one’s family, employment, or if the action is consistent with one’s own moral beliefs. Rather than forming a dependency on other people who are committed to the viewer, the viewer forms a dependency on the images or objects, such as the computer.

In a healthy marital sexuality, norepinephrine generates exhilaration and the partners can recall every little detail of their beloved’s features. Remembering the special intimate moments they’ve shared with one another can be a buoy during trials. In lust, however, norepinephrine also causes feelings of exhilaration, and the pornographic images are seared into the brain, coming up again in great detail sometimes years afterwards, causing great struggle to those who wish to be freed from these memories.

Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, floods the body during sexual climax. Its purpose is to bond the sexual partners together for life. Oxytocin is the same hormone that begins labor and causes labor to progress in pregnant women. It is present in high amounts following childbirth and during breastfeeding. Oxytocin can bond the couple with one another just as powerfully as parents with their newborn child. Outside a loving relationship, however, such as with pornography and masturbation, science has shown that the person does NOT get the full release of oxytocin. He or she releases only a small amount. So while many people turn to porn when they are feeling lonely, they only get the hint of the experience of actually bonding with another, leaving their need for closeness unsatisfied. This reality often causes even more intense feelings of loneliness and isolation than prior to viewing porn, which may lead them going back to try to fill the void again with porn, which it will never fill.

In a committed relationship, serotonin gives the couple a sense of satisfaction and calmness. It relieves stress and the partners feel more able to meet the demands of daily life. In lust, however, the sense of calmness and stress release cause many to use pornography as a form of self-medication to give them relief from the pressures of life.

Vasopressin is produced by men. In a healthy marital relationship, each act of intercourse reinforces his commitment and dedication to the relationship, to his wife, and to his family. With pornography, however, vasopressin reinforces a man’s commitment to himself, to the stimulating circumstances, or to masturbation.

This cocktail of powerful chemicals can make people who’ve accidentally stumbled across porn for the first time progress quickly through the stages of addiction:

1) curiosity,

2) pleasure-seeking,

3) stress relief, to finally

4) dependency or full addiction.

Many neuroscientists are discovering what many people who have struggled to overcome various sexual addictions have discovered for themselves: Relying on will power alone doesn’t work. Not only is will power alone insufficient to overcome a pornography addiction, many find their addiction becomes worse over time. This is due to the Coolidge Effect. Similar to those addicted to other drugs, those addicted to pornography find that the things that used to give them a rush or high no longer do. So as one who is addicted to alcohol will need larger amounts of alcohol to experience its effects, those struggling with pornography will find they need increasingly taboo and hardcore material to experience its effects. The Coolidge Effect is the reason why the fastest growing market in pornography today, due to high demand, is for child pornography. Contrary to popular belief, pedophiles do not typically start out looking at children. They are normal people who begin viewing softcore, adult women, but eventually need more taboo, more deviant material. Thankfully, science is also showing what DOES work to help people overcome addiction. The brain is incredibly neuroplastic, meaning that it can heal and, with time and effort, can be rewired. People struggling with addictions can create new pathways in their brain, and they can create new connections that actually heal sex addiction.

For those who struggle with unwanted sexual behaviors, or for those who know someone who struggles, it’s important to know that pornography use is an actual chemical addiction and that, with help, healing is possible. It is also important to know that you are not alone. You don’t need to suffer in silence and without support anymore.

Resources:

Though a small blog post could never do justice to this very common issue, I want to let any readers know of resources that are available to them.

  • The RECLAiM program, is an online, anonymous program that uses the Brain Science of Change to help people overcome pornography addiction and other unwanted sexual behaviors. I am hearing personal stories all the time of marriages that have been saved, and people who have been freed through RECLAiM’s approach. RECLAiM also offers support and help to the partner.
  • Fighting for Your Marriage: Hope and Healing for Wives of Porn Addicts. This book is written for wives whose husbands have strayed sexually with the use of porn.
  • Rescuing Our Youth from the Porn Trap: Parent Primer –  93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to internet pornography before the age of 18. Though many are aware of the problem, few are willing to rescue those trapped in this addictive and damaging activity.

 

Footnotes:
1. Jonathan Dedmon, “Is the Internet bad for your marriage? Online affairs, pornographic sites playing greater role in divorces.” Press Release from The Dilenschneider Group, Inc., Nov. 14, 2002. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/is-the-internet-bad-for-your-marriage-online-affairs-pornographic-sites-playing-greater-role-in-divorces-76826727.html (accessed Nov. 21, 2013).

2. Jon Mooallem, “A disciplined business,” New York Times, April 29 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/magazine/29kink.t.html (accesseed Nov. 21, 2013).

3. Matt Richtel, “For pornographers, Internet’s virtues turn to vices,” New York Times, June 2, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/02/technology/02porn.html (accessed Nov.21, 2013).

4. Jeannie Hannemmann, “A Call to Awareness and Action” (presentation, Reclaim Sexual Health Conference, Appleton WI, October 27, 2011).
Posted by: April

Thoughts on Marriage from Watching Too Much Reality TV

Sunrise

I’ve been watching Hoarding: Buried Alive on Netflix. For those who are not familiar with the show and others like it, each episode follows two people who struggle to get a grip on this anxiety disorder that causes them to fill their homes to bursting with things, most of which they can’t use or can’t find due to its sheer volume.

I watch it because I find the show strangely inspiring. Although there are a number of people on the show who have gotten a divorce due to the hoarding or who have never married, a surprising number are still married. To see the many that cling to their marriage despite many obstacles and many hurts serves as a witness to the importance of their marriage. Though the culture perpetuates the idea of marriage as finding true love and then living happily ever after, the truth is that marriage is tough sometimes. It stretches us and asks us to let go of selfishness, which is never easy, and it is an epic adventure that demands nothing less than the giving of our whole selves. For me, to see couples that are in the trenches and who have serious obstacles to overcome, to see those that are willing to put in the tough work of healing the many areas that need it in order to get to a place where their marriage is thriving again, this is more inspiring and hopeful to me than the many romantic comedies that Hollywood puts out that depicts “true love” between two people who often barely know each other.

As one who loves order and cleanliness, and whose motto is “a place for everything and everything in its place” I can really feel for the partner who is made to live amid such chaos. On the other hand, I can feel for the partner who hoards. As we all have our shadows inside of us, I empathize with the vulnerability the hoarders must feel as their issues manifest themselves in such a visible and obvious way. I imagine if they too wonder if their partners can see this side of them and love them anyway, as perhaps we all have wondered at times. Though they cling to items, it is apparent that the ones who hoard want desperately what we all want, to be deeply known and loved as they are. Though we strive for self improvement in its many forms, we all desperately want to be loved now, flaws and all.

I went to a presentation with a friend a couple of weeks ago. My friend is a grad student and her favorite professor was speaking at a public event, so she invited me to go hear him speak. Similar to “Murphey’s Law” which states that whatever can go wrong, will; this professor has a friend who has a similar “law.” This law says that everyone always marries the wrong person. Of course everyone in the audience chuckled at this, perhaps as we thought of the struggles we or others have faced in marriage. I myself thought, “So that’s why I married the man I did! We often joke that the only thing we have in common is the children. Though humorous, I think this law illustrates that we are all human, with great strengths and often great weaknesses. It also illustrates that if we are facing difficulties in our marriage, it doesn’t mean we married the wrong person. It is just a fact of marriage, indeed a fact of every area of our lives. We are all flawed people in need of grace and healing. Like the earth, marriages have seasons. They have their ups and downs, times of marital heaven and times of great difficulty. If we are in winter, it is usually helpful to remember that it will not always be so. In fact, like the death of Jesus, sometimes the darkest times do not mean that it is the end; it means that the resurrection is on its way.