Never Surrender Blogfest!

I'm not really the giving-up type.

Actually, that's putting it mildly. I have a REALLY hard time letting go of things, even things I should probably let go of. I hate the sound of a closing door. I hate the finality of choosing one thing over another.


So when I decided to try and take part in Elana Johnson's Never Surrender Blogfest, I was stuck. The challenge is to blog about a time in your life when you did not give up. I have a lot of times I didn't give up, but most of them aren't inspiring. Mostly they're stories of me just stumbling forward, because I didn't know what else to do.

And for every story like that, there's another story of something I should have walked away from earlier and didn't. Or times I did let something go and it turned out to be the wrong thing. So I don't really feel qualified to tell you why you should never surrender.

But.

There are a couple of exceptions to this, a couple of things in my life that are hard and wonderful and take more work and commitment than I ever expected. Those things are my writing and my marriage.

And since I've talked about my writing journey and querying and editing and all that already, I thought I'd share a little bit about my marriage.

Warning, personal-type stuff ahead!!!!

My husband and I met several years before we started dating. We hung out with the same people and did a lot of the same things. First we were friends, then less-than-friends, then a little more than friends, and then he finally asked me out.

We clicked from the start. We have similar senses of humor, including a love of British comedies. We went for long walks and talked about everything from theology and politics to movies and Internet memes. Being together stabilized us, made us calmer, happier people.

Most of the time.

Dan and I are both first-borns, late bloomers and stubborn and independent as hell. We both struggle with anxiety. And we're yellers. (You wouldn't call the police if you heard us, but you wouldn't want to be in the same room either.) If there's conflict, he wants to argue until it is resolved, whereas I reach a point really quickly where I need space to cool off.

There was a lot of arguing. Neither one of us had been in a serious relationship before and sometimes it was a battle. But we didn't think it was a serious problem. We loved each other. We were best friends. It was hard at times, but we were making it work.

Then we got married.

And all hell broke loose.

There's something about marriage that amplifies conflict. You can't just have an argument and go home and cool off and call each other later and make up. That person--who may be the last person on earth you want to see right that very second--is in your space. They are in your BED. There's nowhere to go.

(This was especially hard for me. I have a very strong flight response to conflict, and when I feel trapped, I freak out.)

Things started to fall apart almost immediately. We still loved each other, but we didn't feel close at all. We didn't trust each other. Every discussion turned into a fight. It felt like everything we'd built together was crumbling. People would make jokes about newlyweds and nudge us and I would smile because I didn't know what else to do. But inside I was dying.

It could have ended right there. We could have decided we weren't right for each other and split up. Or we could have stopped caring so much, grown cold towards each other and settled for a facsimile of the good marriage we wanted.

We didn't do either of those things. We wanted to stay together, but more than that, we wanted to be close again. We missed each other.

So we started yelling for help. We talked to mentors, pastors, people we trusted. We read books on good communication and had long conversations about the differences between our styles. I learned to be more selfish and ask for what I needed. He grew more gentle. We both got honest. It was scary and it was hard and it was messy and it didn't happen overnight, but slowly, we started to rebuild the broken parts of our relationship.

The second year was easier, and the third. We just celebrated our fourth anniversary at the end of February, so we're still pretty new at this. We still fight. We still ask for help sometimes. But we're a team now. With a lot of work and a lot of grace and a lot of support, we got the best part of us back.

And I wouldn't trade it for anything.



Want to join the Never Surrender blogfest? Details are here. 

24 comments:

  1. I love this post so much and relate to it.  I'm emailing you the details for privacy, but the bottom line is that I truly believe in sticking it out as the only way to truly commit.

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  2. This is wonderful to hear, Miriam. I always feel so sad for people who seem to divorce too quickly after a short marriage. Now, I have no idea what went on the marriage, but you have to wonder if they even tried to stay together. It's fantastic you and your hubby are committed to each other and to your marriage and that giving up is not an option. Good for you and wishing you many blessings!

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  3. Good for you, not giving up! From what I’ve seen going through hard times is hard, very hard, but worthwhile….

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  4. Stina LindenblattJune 11, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    I can relate to this, but at the end of the day, there is no one I'd rather be with than my husband.

    The divorce rate in my old company is high, for good reason. Stress from the job and traveling killed a lot of marriages. Fortunately I got out before it was too late. :)

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  5. Probably not something I wanted to read as an engaged man. lol Marriage amplifies arguing. Well, I better get the pastors, mentors and counselors on my speed dial. lol

    Glad you guys are working through it. Love will find a way as the song goes.

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  6. What a lovely and honest post! Thanks much for sharing, and good for you and your hubby to work through this instead of giving up as so many couples do. It's putting your stubbornness and resilience to good use! :)

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  7. Stopping by from the blogfest...I love this post! And I love your Never Surrender mentality! Happy year 4 of marriage. ;) *new follower*

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  8. Thank you for your wonderful comment and email, Sophia! *hugs*

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  9. Thanks Laura! I feel for people in that situation. It's difficult when the hard part shows up right at the beginning, because we're taught that there's supposed to be a honeymoon period and newlyweds are supposed to be blissfully happy. So then you think something is horrifically wrong and it's not salvageable. But that's not always true.

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  10. Absolutely! Sometimes I have to remind myself that hard times are called that for a reason. :)

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  11. Awww! I'm glad you feel that way about your husband. Even when we were fighting, I didn't want to be with anyone else. Maybe that's why we made it work. 

    And good for you getting out of that stressful situation too! 

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  12. Haha, that's one of the reasons I had such a hard time talking about it while it was happening. Most of my friends at the time were single and I didn't want to scare them. :)

    If it makes you feel better, I know a lot of people who got married and settled in with relatively little problems.  And really, a willingness to ask for help is one of the best things you can do for a marriage, even if you guys get along most of the time. 

    Congratulations to you! I wish you all the best.

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  13. Awww, thanks Miriam! *hugs*

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  14. Awww, thanks! And welcome! :)

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  15. Well, it's nice to know stubbornness is good for something. (ha) 

    Thanks! 

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  16. Wow, thank you for the lovely comment, Jericha! I love the separate rooms idea. We don't sleep well when we're separated, but it is nice when we can make our own spaces and have somewhere to go to cool off.  Currently I tend to use the bathroom as my escape room during a fight, but maybe someday when we get a larger apartment, I'll have a study or something. :)

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  17. What an amazing story of how to make things work, even when they're hard. Bonus points for being brave enough to share this. *hugs*

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  18. Sounds like a tough time, but it's wonderful that you both worked together and made it.  You didn't give up.  :)

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  19. I can relate to this on so many different levels!  My wife and I will be together for 30 years next June and I can tell you that marriage is like a heartbeat.  There are highs...and there are lows...and everything in between...but  what defines a good one is the combination of everything and the realization that without both ends of the spectrum...there is no pulse. You are young and your marriage is still fresh, but it sounds like you've figured that out already!  Good for you!  Thank you for sharing. :)

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  20. Thanks Elana! *hugs back* And thanks for the great blogfest!

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  21. Yay! I am happy about that too. And thank you for stopping by! 

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  22. "Marriage is like a heartbeat. There are highs...and there are lows...and everything in between...but  what defines a good one is the combination of everything."I love this! It's one of the best analogies for marriage I've heard in a long time. And I really appreciate the words of wisdom from more experienced veterans. If it weren't for words of wisdom from those married longer than us, we'd be in a lot of trouble. :) Congratulations on your 30 year anniversary! 

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