Ever since I was a little girl I dreamt about love and finding a husband. But in a way, different than most girls might, I think. From a young age, I imagined that I was going to have an incredible, strong, world-conquering marriage. Before I even understood the fullness of matrimony, I knew I was destined to a partnership in the truest sense of the term that would stretch far outside of just the two of us. I knew that an average, loving, healthy marriage would never be enough for me. I wouldn’t settle for anything except “power couple” status and so I was going to make it happen.
In October 2016, my husband and I went to a Marriage Conference put on by our church. I was so excited for the weekend as we drove to the small coastal town in NH, dressed to the nines in anticipation of a super fun, and super romantic experience where we could grow and learn together.
Fast forward to our ride back home. It felt that my excitement and anticipation had metamorphosed into frustration and discouragement.
We had a fun time, please don’t get me wrong! It was an excellent night away with some of our closest friends, enjoying food, drinks, dancing, and great words. But you see my marriage was far from perfect. It wasn’t a bad marriage; there were no major grievances between us, or struggles. There weren’t any fights over money or whatever married people usually fight over, and despite my husband and I both being stubborn, independent, somewhat self-focused people, we always allow each other those qualities and we always are able to resolve conflicts and get to the same page. But I really sensed, back in autumn 2016, that our marriage was ready to be taken to the next level. I thought there was something I was going to learn, to change, to control, to help it get there.
During the ride home when my husband asked me what I thought of that weekend, I told him that I had had fun, and I felt that our pastors had spoken a lot of truths, but that my interpretation of what they were trying to share meant that my marriage would ultimately be doomed. Hopeless. Out of control. I had taken the impression that my husband could be who he needed to be only by my constant reminders. And what I learned that weekend was that ultimately, despite my greatest efforts, my marriage could never be top level unless my husband plays his role to make that happen.
I didn’t trust that my husband would ever step up in the fullest way, and I never trusted that he would let God work in his life unless I created that situation to happen. And if I am not in control, my efforts are futile and so is my marriage. Trust me, I know how dramatic this sounds given what I said about our marriage being an overall pretty decent one, but I was striving for power couple! Not decent! And I was the one that had to make it happen! (Yes, you can laugh at me, I sure do)
Going through the motions of the holidays and winter months in New England, I decided that the best approach to fill this sudden lack of control was to start seeking out “my mission” on Earth. My husband had his construction business, and invested a lot of his time and energy into that, but now that I was not going to put the same efforts into making my marriage what I wanted, where else should I focus the mission? I did a lot of reading, praying, and soul searching, and I learned some pretty cool stuff that I will write another post about someday.
Spring came, then summer. A good friend of mine had invited me to attend a small concert with her in the same coastal town where the marriage weekend had been. As we were hanging out on the pier waiting for the music to start my friend asked me if Frank and I were planning to attend that year’s marriage conference, and what we had thought of the previous one. I told her we probably would because we had a great time last year. I shared with her my feelings from it. The ironic thing is, as I was explaining all those thoughts to her, my husband at that exact time was sitting in a hotel room in Honolulu where he was on a business trip, thinking and praying about our life and the direction it was headed. He had landed some huge jobs that were requiring him to travel. I was becoming increasingly frustrated whenever he took absence. I viewed our separation as a negative thing, and a hindrance to the partnership I desired. He was searching for the right resolve on how to fulfill his work duties, grow his business, but continue to grow our marriage and be with his children. Although I had a lot of thoughts about all this and was open with him, I no longer was saying no to the things I wanted to say no to, or trying to advise him on what I would do if I were in his shoes.
A few days later when I picked my husband up from Logan Airport he told me that he had figured out how we were going to make this all work. I got very excited because I assumed that he had come to the same solutions that I had thought of myself. “We’re going to Hawaii!” I was shocked. This was not the solution I wanted.
Despite the end result, Frank told me all the reasons why he felt that was the best decision. And everything he had to say about our marriage growing stronger and our family being together and our spirituality increasing, was exactly what I wanted him to say. I didn’t ask him to say it, I didn’t lecture him on anything to get him to say it.
You get the point?
In the same exact moment, I was reflecting with my friend about how frustrated I was that my husband might not do what I wanted and needed him to do, he was figuring out the answers on his own without my help. Now I am not advocating that marriage partners do things separately, not work together, or whatever other accusation one might make toward me at this point in my story. I am simply sharing in order to inspire, encourage, and give hope to someone because you see, I doubted if I would see growth or change where growth and change was needed because I wasn’t the one initiating it. I was under the impression that most people would never change, or never grow, if someone wasn’t behind them reminding them to do so or helping them see “the point” all the time.
I wasn’t giving my husband enough credit for how thoughtful, intuitive, and discerning he could really be, and I wasn’t giving him the space to flex those qualities. Thankfully, pre-marriage weekend, my husband was laidback and loving enough to give me grace during my attempts at control to either agree with me, or ignore me altogether. In this sense, we are compatible. He is a very strong person.
So, in less than a month’s time, we went to Hawaii! Within a week of being here we felt that we were supposed to make the move more permanent than the 6 weeks we originally signed up for. We had very clear direction and peace about making this our home, longer-term. Although we knew that we would be going back to NH someday, we also knew that we should settle in a bit. In many ways, it was difficult but we did it.
Regardless of business and opportunities to increase our coiffeurs it was impressed on us from the very beginning that the point of our time in Hawaii was going to be our marriage first, and our family. That’s it. Although we thought we saw ideal money-making situations, or invitations to ministry leadership, the only thing promised to us was that we would learn a lot about ourselves, each other, and taking our marriage to that next level. That was it! Anything outside of that was just assumptions and distractions. Anytime we started to focus on something other than self, and marriage, things got stressful, confusing, or felt “off”. In fact, so far everything outside of us that we thought was going to happen fell flat. All of the business deals we were offered when we first got out here turned out to be way less appealing than we were told. All of the investment opportunities we thought we were going to take were held up by details that we didn’t consider, or couldn’t have anticipated. But we got more calls than ever for work back East.
This past week, on Valentine’s Day, my husband was in Boston working a job. He was feeling frustrated and discouraged that we were apart, and that he has so much work there, but now we are living here. We had a beautiful conversation about this whole journey, beginning to now.
Why did we come to Hawaii in the first place? What lessons have we learned here? What growing have we done here? In what ways are we in agreement and stronger more than ever before?
It was amazing to hear him open up and take the position of victory and gratefulness rather than how he sounded when he first called. Even more amazing, later that evening I received an email from him where he’d written down some of the lessons he’s learned in great detail. I am telling you, the words I was reading would make any wife swoon. Better than any romance movie, or love song. What he wrote is worth more than any opportunity or deal we could have landed out here. Worth more than living in a tropical paradise. Worth more than gold. He said all the things that I didn’t even realize I needed or wanted him to say. Deep stuff. About our kids, about our partnership, about our God, about our future.
The opportunity was never about money, or influence, or status. We were actually given the best opportunity ever. Abundance in love and unity. And in all His goodness and grace, we got to do it in one of the most beautiful places in the world, surrounded by some of the most amazing people we have ever known or have love us.
You see friends, you don’t have to have it all figured out. I don’t! You don’t have to pressure yourself into the illusion of being in complete control. You’re not! You don’t need to know all the details. You don’t need to have all the directions. Through these last six months, what I have learned, and do now know, is more valuable than anything. From October 2016 fearing that I was doomed to a healthy but boring, happy but uninfluential, content but routine marriage, all the way to now. Now, where through this journey, I believe more than ever that I am walking in destiny.