Monday, May 19, 2014

Approaching Our Seventh Anniversary

When we set the GPS in our driveway, it says six hours (on the dot) to Jim's mama's. It takes more like seven-and-a-half with the little kids; each travels well but has a squirrel bladder. We stumble road-weary into Jim's mama's trailer, and there's no vacation element to our visits, these days. Sometimes I take the kids out for awhile, but--having gotten up with Jim's mama in the middle of the night--I do it tired and because the kids are climbing the walls, getting on each other's nerves and everyone else's, too. I wonder about Jim and his mama the whole time we're out...not because he's incapable, but because (given that he's working remotely) he's busy, distracted. Also because at her current level of need, things can become awkward pretty quickly even for me, and I'm of her gender and not of her blood.

We returned home from Mother's Day weekend Tuesday evening, and I've been wrong ever since. I thought just exhaustion, at first, but then my throat went sore. This was days ago, but last night, I woke from a dead sleep for the sidewalk-scraped pain in my throat. I have a hacking cough, a runny nose, watery eyes. Clementine shares my cold, I think; I listened to her sneeze a dozen times in a row, this morning, from the spot we shared on the sofa.

So I've struggled, lately, in thinking of a positive something to share, but here it is, a happy announcement: things are well between Jim and me. If you knew us, really knew us, you'd know it hasn't always been well between us; in fact, at the outset of this crisis with his mama, things got as bad as they've ever gotten. At some recent point, though, we realized: this moment in time really matters. How we handle it matters.

We've been motivated, lately, to treat one another with extra kindness. I value the sentiment of the Golden Rule but understand that--if I know how Jim would have something "done unto" him--there's more kindness in going that route than the one I would choose personally, if roles were reversed. He's reached a similar understanding; I can tell. Truth is: Jim and I differ in so many ways, and after almost seven years of marriage, we're just starting to understand how to bless and help one another.

Our small group participated recently in a DVD study called Sacred Marriage. Have you heard of it? I got a lot out of it, but my very favorite moment was the one in which Gary Thomas said it takes seven to ten years for a couple to learn to live together. It's tragic, he said: oftentimes two people are just on the brink of figuring things out when they call it quits. And truth be told, up to that point I'd been a little angsty about the approach of Jim's and my seventh wedding anniversary. My first husband and I split up after about six-and-a-half years of marriage. I've heard the phrases seven-year ache and seven-year itch all my life.

Gary Thomas's words filled me with hope, and I've been watching ever since for evidence that Jim and I are just on the brink of figuring things out. It's there. Over the past few days, I've found it in the way he's handled this summer cold of mine. I could go into the details but won't; what's important is that he's learned what I like when I'm sick (very different from what he likes, when he's sick) and done his best to please me. I keep thinking: what if this is it? What if we're on the brink? What if we've fallen over the very edge? What if it's happily ever after from here on out? And I guess there's no point in expecting anything less.


  1. I know 18 months isn't long enough! I'm sure that marriage is not an easy proposition, but I believe that you and Jim have a way better than average chance at really long term happiness! I always see too much love in all your pictures of family!!!

    I remember my brother once told me that the most strained, most difficult time in his (20+ year) marriage was when my father was ill, and the brunt of care fell on him and his wife, including dad living with them for long periods of time during treatments and recovery. The strain of "full circle parenting" is difficult on all couples.

    It will get better.

    Peace <3

  2. I think as long as you're married there will be highs and lows with a lot of blessed ordinary days in between. Praying for you both as you go through this difficult season with Jim's mom.

  3. Take carer of your health. You both have a good understanding between yourself and leading a wonderful life!

  4. it does take time to figure things out....saturday will be our 19th wedding anniversary and 22 years we have been together....just dont let it slip into complacency...or give up the long haul...i would agree people probably give up before given a chance....

  5. Hi Brandee! I'm so sorry you got sick :( What a blessing you are to your mother-in-law. I know it takes so much out of you, but you are being an angel to her.
    It is a wonderful thing to say that you and Jim are doing well. Marriage is not an easy or automatic thing. But you are willing to work on it, so expect the rewards from that. It's so amazing what a few kind words will do, isn't it?

  6. Oh Brandee, this is absolutely beautiful from his Momma to you two finding your way together. Sometimes, even when it comes to my Jim, it takes tender moments like the one you are going thru with his mom to really see the truth of his heart. Way to be so supportive and loving to your hurting man's heart. He will cherish you for this too. Love your girl. I think this is one of my favorite posts.

  7. I love this post, Brandee!

    Sherri and I recently celebrated our 8th anniversary. I sometimes think we are just now starting to figure out how to bless each other...other times I think we're not quite yet to that point... ;-)

    I do know that we both tend to get a lot less stressed than we used to about our very different ways of approaching things. We've got a bit better at anticipating each other's expectations...and at least mentally preparing if not always accomodating...

    Overall, life is good and we are very blessed!

    Thank you for sharing a little of your journey.

  8. Sweetie pie, there is no such thing as happily ever after. However, there is such a thing as a seasoned, rich, layered, mutually supportive marriage. And you're on your way. Love you, Brandee. Grateful for you.