Love Is

Michelle and I have asked many young couples to complete this sentence, “Love is…..?” We both often chuckle at the answers we hear from them. “Love is that warm and fuzzy feeling when you are with your boo, or even when you’re not together the mere thought of them brings a smile to your face.” Or, “Love is the goose bumps I get when he touches my hand or the high I feel when I’m standing in a room full of people, she walks in and smiles, and I know that smile is just for me!” Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat do some kind of job capturing these images of what love is because after all who wants to ‘like’ a picture or a video of someone crying because of a hurt they may be feeling, or some present pain caused by the one you love, or a disappointment that has happened more than once and you thought would never happen again? You see, I almost think we need to redo the wedding day because I’m not sure it is a proper representation of what we are walking into as a married couple. I mean you have the groom standing at the altar freshly groomed, suited and booted, and smiling without seemingly a care in the world. You are surrounded by family, friends, and well-wishers pulling for your success. The ceremony is held in a beautiful venue, decorated perfectly to all those looking on…and let’s not forget the bride! Walking down the aisle like an angel from heaven, literally glowing as she gracefully floats to her position next to her soon to be husband…I mean everything is perfect! Except, the venue is actually pushing us along because they have another 3 groups right after yours, half of the friends and family are only there for the free food and drink, and the bride and the groom who look so perfect and amazing at that moment are unable to see all of the invisible baggage that they are bringing into the relationship that they either failed to mention or they themselves don’t even know is an issue yet.

And that friends is what true love is…it’s not just about what or how your feel, it’s about what and how your serve. Love is not just about what you get, but more importantly it’s about what you give. Please understand, it’s easy to feel warm and fuzzy when you are both on the same page and everything is flowing as planned. She agrees with everything you say and he is taking out the trash without having to be reminded. How enamored are you with her when she walks down the stairs with a sweat suit on that’s 3 times bigger than she is, or how warm and fuzzy do you feel when he seems to get fresh and clean for any and everyone but you? Where is love when she seemingly has a rebuttal for every decision you wish to make and how special and cherished do you feel when he can’t seem to remember to put the toilet seat down after the 50th reminder! What is love? Real, true love? Love is having the patience to walk through the tough times, recognizing that tough times don’t last but tough people do. It is having the kindness to not make your spouse feel like an idiot because they may not be as knowledgeable or well- versed about certain topics as you are. Love is sacrificing what you want in order to make sure your spouse gets what they need from you….it isn’t always warm and fuzzy, it isn’t always glitz and glamour…love sometimes hurts. It can be downright painful sometimes. However, it is the most rewarding and fulfilling of all human emotions and if done correctly by two good willed people committed to loving each other properly, love can literally conquer anything. So yes, love is warm, fuzzy, goosebumps, and smiles…but love is also tough, stressful, painful, and frustrating. But I can honestly say after almost 22 years of marriage, though love and marriage is NOT for the weak minded, ill-equipped, and for the faint of heart….Love is an amazing adventure, it is the ultimate challenge, it is a thrilling roller coaster ride full of ups and downs and twists and turns, and love is….absolutely worth every bit of it!

By |2019-03-01T10:21:00-06:00February 5th, 2018|Communication, Conflict Resolution|Comments Off on Love Is

For Better or For Worse

On the wedding day two people stand in front of a minister or officiant and are absolutely lost in the moment. I have conducted several weddings and I have seen it first-hand; the groom absolutely mesmerized by the dazzling beauty of his soon to be bride. The bride, who once she enters the space knowing every eye is on her, only has eyes for her true love and who is ready to give her whole heart to her dapper, debonair groom. It is oh so magical, and though the couple has gone through pre-marital counseling and has received advice and wisdom from seasoned married professionals and veteran couples on how to hang in there through the tough times, in that moment that is the last thing on the soon-to-be-bride and groom’s mind. They are going to conquer the world together! Problems…issues… challenges…sickness…divorce? Those are situations other couples deal with, but not us! Can you blame them though? I mean who wants to go into a brand new relationship or enter into a brand new season of life focused on worse-case scenarios? In fact, even though the pastor says to the couple in their vows, “do you take this man/woman to be your lawfully wedded husband/wife for better OR for worse, for richer OR for poorer, in sickness OR in health so long as you both shall live,” I believe most folks feel like the more they can avoid problems and negative circumstances in their relationship the better.

Now, I don’t think anyone enjoys going through hard times. It’s neither fun nor is it energizing, however it is telling. You see no one learns much about their spouse when everything is perfect. It’s easy to say how much you love someone when things in your life are “better.” However it’s in the times of “worse” where you find out who is really in your corner, it’s during the times of “worse” where you have an opportunity to put your commitment on display, and it’s during the times of “worse” where you get to find out what you and your relationship is made of. The tough times present couples with the chance to cry together, to fight together, and to grow together. Personally, I have come to appreciate the challenges I’ve experienced in my marriage. Now I reiterate, those times aren’t the most fun and energizing, but when you have two well intended people willing to continue to put in the work, it is amazing the character it builds both individually and corporately as husband and wife. It also provides a depth of intimacy that you just cannot experience without some level of adversity. So to all of my fellow married couples I say enjoy the times of “better.” However during the time of “worse” I say do not miss the opportunity it presents. Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

By |2018-02-08T22:10:47-06:00January 15th, 2018|Communication, Conflict Resolution, Intimacy|Comments Off on For Better or For Worse

Romance Novel Kind of Love

When I was a teenager I grew infatuated with romance novels. I loved love. I loved the thought of love, the look of love and most of all being in love with the one who loved me most. Those novels craftily sucked me into the fairytale of romantic love and I’m willing to bet some of you too. I desperately wanted to have that INTENSE love I grew to admire! Believe it or not I am still very much a romantic after twenty+ years of marriage. However, I am fully aware of the pitfalls of my fantasy. Reality has a way of ruining even the best intended dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I still love love. I just now love it differently.

Living together brings interesting challenges to the ideal of love. It tests the depth and fabric of the love you profess. We say we got married because we deeply loved one another but how much is the question. When encountered by the habits and upbringing of another adult, love can quickly turn into frustration, anger and dislike. I had not prepared for the differences, conflict and confusion that arise in marriage. I figured if Ray would just do what I wanted; when I wanted it and how I wanted it done all would be back to fantasy land. I had no idea he would have the same thoughts about me. As time went by, I became angry with what I wasn’t getting from Ray. I was easily frustrated by the littlest of things he would do that were different from me. I couldn’t believe this was the man who claimed to intensely love me more than anyone. I was so wrong about wanting this INTENSE love. It wasn’t all that the romance novels pictured it to be.

When I settled down and did some research, I realized I had it all wrong. The love I wanted was still achievable and, in fact, was present and alive. I just didn’t see it. The word intense comes from the Latin word intendere meaning “to stretch out.” I wasn’t happy because to do things Ray’s way required some compromises or even changes and change is hard. It caused me to open my eyes to different perspectives rather than sticking with what I already know. It made me reach deep inside myself and face the fact that I am an imperfect human being capable of improvement. This love I wanted so desperately challenged me to stretch beyond the single me to the 2.0 me, the married me. Relationships are hard whether at work with your boss, at home with your child or extended family like in-laws. As difficult as they may be the pressure to fix them daunts your existence and fractures your inner peace. Your only choice is to figure out how to make them better, especially your 24/7 marriage. You can choose to fight the pressure of modification or allow the process to transform you into something new and beautiful. As you open yourself up to change, you allow your journey to inspire your husband, children, family and friends to do the same.

You see I had it right after all (pun intended, ha)! Intense love is not only what I wanted but what I needed. And although it may not always be romantic, it is always right in the arms of the one you love! My hope is that you too allow yourself to be ever-changing, ever-growing into the new and improved you with the gentle nudge by the love of your life, your superman, pool boy or whatever he is to you tonight (wink, wink).

By |2018-01-19T20:08:42-06:00November 7th, 2017|Communication, Conflict Resolution, Intimacy|Comments Off on Romance Novel Kind of Love

What is Beautiful?

I asked my wife the other day if she ever gets tired of me telling her how unbelievably gorgeous I think she is. She smiled and said, “NO!” However, I also realize a thing that is truly beautiful cannot holistically be appreciated by just its mere appearance. What is beautiful to me is a Sunday afternoon, on the field, 3rd down and 15 and you know the quarterback has to throw the ball for a first down. You see the wide receiver running his route, you see the quarterback release the ball in his direction, and just before the receiver makes the catch….BOOOMMM!!!! The defender lights up the intended target with a thunderous hit that jars the ball harmlessly to the turf. That is just beautiful to me…but here’s what you don’t get to see in that moment. You don’t get to see the work that went into making that play happen; the long hours of practice, meetings, and film study spent. The early morning commutes day after day to the practice facility all while nursing nagging aches and pains from the intense contest just days earlier. Not to mention the ability to block out the family drama going on behind the scenes. What we see as beautiful when it happens live rarely reveals the struggle and the effort and the work that actually went into making it happen.

And I think that’s what I appreciate most about my marriage. Michelle and I hear people say to us all the time, “You two are so beautiful together. You guys are the perfect couple. I want to have a marriage just like you two!” Well, I will tell you it is possible. And though I would agree with everyone that our marriage is phenomenal, I would also share in all transparency that the beauty of our relationship is a result of the willingness to have the hard conversations, the work of listening to the other person and walking in their shoes versus standing intently on our own ground, and a mindset of blocking out the issues that would try to divide us, but rather be resolute in searching for the principles, the people, or the products that encourage togetherness. A great artist, a great actor, a great athlete….those amazing individuals who we would pay top dollar to see perform leave us in awe with the beauty in which they perform. But that’s the thing with the great ones…they make the hard things look easy. My friends what is beautiful to me is when I see couples not only committed to marriage, not only committed to looking good to the onlookers on the outside, but they are also committed to the work, the pain, the discomfort, the battle of what it takes to stay together successfully within the relationship. To me that is absolutely beautiful; yeah that’s what great marriages look like to me…but hey, the great ones, they make the hard stuff look easy.

By |2018-01-20T17:35:23-06:00June 10th, 2017|Communication, Conflict Resolution, Intimacy|Comments Off on What is Beautiful?
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