Many years ago, I skimmed through a book entitled “The Passages of Marriages.” The passages were named as follows:
1) Young love (years 1 and 2)
2) Realistic love (years 3-10)
3) Comfortable love (years 11-25)
4) Renewing love (years 26-35)
5) Transcendent love (years 36 and beyond)
With 23 years behind us, we are nearing the end of that comfortable stage of love, and a sweet season it is. We spend alot of time together as friends and as lovers, without the pressure to be anything other than who we are, warts and all. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were without our children for several days–an extremely rare event for us–and while all the marriage gurus said that we should dress up and go to extravagant places, I loved feeling his warm hand in mine while we strolled a museum full of live butterflies.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 gives us insight into how fleeting our moments are:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Trust me, 23 years, and the joy of this “comfortable” season, doesn’t come without seasons of discomfort. Indeed, as the book suggests, there are a number of bumpy roads that occur at any one of these seasons, and there are pivotal life questions that are to be considered at each stage. Somewhere around where we are exists the following questions:
Can we childproof our marriage? Can we stay in love once reality sets in? Can we truly forgive? Who is in control–us or the children? How about intimacy–do we still meet each other’s needs?
No worries–I won’t write a treatise about each of these questions and where we are. However, there is one question that I have reflected on quite a bit lately:
Can I maintain my individual identity within my marriage (and family)?
I won’t write a treatise about that, either. But I am clear, as I draw nigh to 50, about what I need to focus on for me: more time with the Lord, eating right, exercising, and honing my craft. In that order.
I will share more about my commitments to self in later posts. Years ago, I talked about being a “make-due” woman (republished here on Joy Comes in the Morning), and yes, I truly believe that there is a season of sacrifice in which that mentality is appropriate, too. Yet, the truth is that you cannot give from an empty cup, and it is taking a bit more for my cup to stay filled these days. Put bluntly, I’m not 20 years old anymore. Nor am I 30, or even 40. Now it is time to stop making due so that others are not later paying the price for my sacrifices. So, I embrace this season and I am happy to share the things that help me keep that glow. More importantly, I am thankful for the revelation that taking good care of self allows me to be even more of a blessing to others. God bless, dear friends.