Life is difficult enough as it is

July 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

“Don’t make life more difficult for your spouse than it already is.”

Placing her music in her bag, Carla zips it shut.  Her checklist lies beside the bag with lines drawn through each item.

“Where are you going this time?”  Richard’s voice startles her.  The sarcasm in his tone sets Carla on edge.

Standing in the doorway of their bedroom, he raises his eyebrows as if re-asking the question.

“Richard, why do you ask questions you already know the answer to?  This trip has been planned for nearly a year and I bet I’ve told you half a dozen times today that the chorus is going to Atlanta.”

Richard begins kicking the toe of his tennis shoe against the doorway.  “When you decided to join this community chorus thing, I was against it from the beginning.  I knew you’d be gone all the time.  It seems like you’re more excited about going on these chorus trips than you are about being home with me.”

Placing her hands on her hips, Carla faces Richard.  “Look.  We only make two, maybe three trips a year.  And you are always welcome to go with me.

“Why do you always do this right before I have a concert or leave on a trip?  It’s like you deliberately try to upset me.”

“That’s not true,” Richard replies.  “I just didn’t expect to have to compete with other people for your attention when we got married.”

Carla takes a deep breath and lets it out audibly through her nose.  “Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of singing with a professional group.   I had decided that it just wasn’t going to happen.  Then when we moved here four years ago, I discovered this chorus.

“While I know we are not technically a professional group, I think we are even better for it.

“The camaraderie, the spirit of giving to others and the dedication to the music is unlike anything I’ve experienced.”  As she finishes, her eyes mist over.

Richard notices it.  “See there!  You’re all emotional about it.  I sometimes think you’ve got something going on with one of the men in the group.  I’ve seen how you look at Micah.”

“What?!” Carla exclaims.  “You have got to be kidding!  Since when did you dream this up?”

Snatching her bag off the bed, she puts the strap over her shoulder, grabs the handle of her rolling suitcase and heads toward the door.

Richard blocks her exit.  “Now you’re upset,” he says with a placating tone.  “I don’t want you to be mad.  I guess I shouldn’t have said anything.”

Carla’s nose is reddening and tears pool in her eyes.  “Just get out of the way.  You’re going to make me late.”

Slowly backing out of the doorway, Richard says, “I don’t know what you expect me to do while you’re gone.”

Carla struggles with her bags as she goes past.

“Here, let me help you.”  He reaches for the handle of her suitcase.

Blocking his attempt, Carla says emphatically, “Don’t bother!”

Angry.  Frustrated.  Resentful.  I think those words would accurately describe Carla, don’t you?

Insecure.  Passive-Aggressive.  Narcissistic.  These would be good words to describe Richard.

One of the most difficult passages for marriages to navigate is the evolution of personality change in its members.

A remarkable ability we have as human beings is that we can change.  We can evolve and become someone very different than we have been.

As a matter of fact, I believe that it is incumbent on us to change.  The apostle Paul describes it this way, “Though the outward man is perishing (dying, decaying), the inward man is renewed day by day.”  We should never stop “becoming.”

It is an amazing gift that we can leave behind an unhealthy or unhappy past and forge a new life for ourselves.

When we marry, we have a pretty good sense of our partner’s personality and why our relationship with them clicks.  We marry them because the relationship has become comfortable in that way.

This level of comfortableness includes an element of predictability.  We know what to expect.  For some people, predictability is an important key to their feeling secure.

There are those who are zealous about evolving.  They eagerly investigate the unknown.  Challenges are exciting to them.

Sadly, some folks do not change.  They have no desire to explore new ideas or to try new things.  Complacency is a comfortable and secure place to them.

And therein lays the problem in marriage.  When one person changes and the other one doesn’t, it creates pressure on the relationship.  The relationship has lost its homeostasis.

Take Carla and Richard for instance.  They’ve been married for twelve years.  For eight of those years, things were pretty predictable.

But suddenly Carla became passionate about something totally new and foreign to Richard.  She found the answer to a childhood dream that Richard had never even heard about.

His response is to become insecure.  He places stumbling blocks in Carla’s path every where he can.

In predictable fashion, he regresses and plays the pouting games of a child.  His hope is that Carla will see his hurt and give up the pursuit of her dream.

And she just might.  But at what cost, both to herself and to the marriage?

If she does give up the dream, the beginning of a wedge of resentment will be driven between her and Richard.  In time, that resentment she feels toward Richard could create so much emotional distance between them as to rend asunder their relationship.

Also, perhaps years from now, Carla will have resentment and regret toward herself for the decision not to pursue her dream.  A bitter attitude will follow in its wake.  And Richard will no longer be attracted to her.

Richard needs to see that Carla’s newfound passion can have a positive influence on their marriage.  That passion will give her renewed energy, joy, and excitement.

If he chooses to encourage her in her pursuit and join her in her excitement, her love and appreciation of him will know no bounds.

Life is difficult enough as it is, full of competition and a dog-eat-dog attitude.  It seems intent on knocking us to our knees and wanting us to give up.

We all need our spouse to be a smiling cheerleader on the sidelines, urging us on and eager for us to achieve success.

The resulting rewards will flow in both directions: joy and gratitude.

And the deepening of emotional intimacy will pay dividends that last a life time.

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