This might be the hardest post of this series. I have spent days in meditation trying to decide exactly the right words to say. Before I begin, please do not assume offense on anything. I always try to come from a loving and unbiased place, so if you hear judgment in what I write, come back and read it again because that is not the intent.
My single friends. I want to talk to you first. I was a single mom for a time. During that time I didn’t want to talk about or really hear from those with a healthy marriage. It wasn’t my reality. I only wanted to deal with my reality. My reality was not a lot of sleep and what seemed like a constant stream of conflict with my ex-husband and all the while trying to homeschool and figure out how to make money. It was a lot of pressure. If you are in this spot, my heart goes out to you. In reflecting on that time, I am also reminded of the very sweet things. The fact that I didn’t feel like I had to be *on* for anyone, I could be myself with my kids, recover from my unhealthy relationship with their father and figure out how to just be me. I am very thankful for the inner work I was able to accomplish during this period. My best wishes for you are that you enjoy the time, get to know you and draw closer to the Spirit. Take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Love yourself. Recover from your marriage. Have fun! Be open to love. Make your *perfect* man list and squirrel it away some place safe. Discover who you are in the wake of this part of your life ending.
Now here is the part that hopefully won’t make you hate me. Forgive. I believe that forgiveness comes on many levels – almost like an onion. It takes a long time to get to the core of it all. I have been through times when I thought I had totally forgiven the situation, only to be humbled by another tearful, burning layer of the onion. It takes time – it doesn’t have to take you as long as it took me! I wasted a lot of time being angrier than was necessary. As I got to deeper and deeper spiritual understanding, the forgiveness came. Some came with age too. With each layer of forgiveness came incredible amounts of peace. We need these layers of forgiveness to keep our hearts from hardening. We have to be open for our children. We have to be healthy and stable (more about that in another post.) During this forgiveness process, I also began doing something that was incredibly hard for me. I began thanking God for my experience. I have been working through a spiritual piece and it gave me pause and reminded me that we are to be thankful for all things – not just the good. All things are for our pruning and learning. You know what? Sometimes that just plain sucks! But the farther I get from the past, the more I know it to be true. My experience has helped me to help others. My experience has helped me to learn to love unconditionally. My experience has brought me strength that I didn’t know I had. So there was a dark gloomy night several months ago when I was pondering this idea of thanking God for what I went through. I was really struggling. Really struggling. The struggle allowed me to hold on to the pain and that last little bit of forgiveness that I just didn’t want to let go of. As I lay in bed, my house quiet, my dear husband and babies all asleep, I heard God call me. The still, small voice was sweet and comforting. “Come, let me take this burden from you.” I hadn’t even been thinking of it as a burden. I gave up my poo about it long ago. But there was that little bit. So I slid down to my knees and sobbed. Amazingly, through the thanking and the sobbing there was warmth and complete comfort. I crawled into bed and had the most amazing sleep. Four hours seemed like 40. My prayer for you is that you have peace. Don’t wait.
Now to my friends who are part of this partnership or marital institution. How are you doing? Let’s talk about your happiness and being on the same page. In the thirteen years I was married to my former husband, I would say very little of that time was spent living as healthy contributing adults. Much of it was spend fighting or acting very much like siblings. If you wonder whether or not you are acting like siblings, ask yourself… do I get jealous when he buys something for himself or gets to spend time alone? How about vice versa? Does he get mad if you do? If the answer to that is yes, then you might be living as siblings.
Marriage today is often not what I believe God intended. Now I am not going to go into roles like cooking, cleaning, who works, who takes care of kids, because that really is NOT what I am talking about when I think of a God centered marriage. A spiritual marriage means both people love and respect each other, understand boundaries and are willing to be your help meet. Forever. None of this until death do us part stuff. Forever. When you look at things from an eternal perspective then it is a bit easier to forgive some things and harder to forgive others. Being on the same page means that if you were asked the same questions about a topic, you would likely give the same answer or at least know what the other person would say. It doesn’t mean you always agree. Marriage is HARD work and BOTH sides have to be willing to work, be willing to bend and be willing to be humble. We have to be willing to admit when we are wrong and willing to fix things. That is healthy marriage. How are you doing? Still with me? Or are you upset that this isn’t where your marriage is? Thinking it is unobtainable? Not so.
Being in a healthy marriage that has very little – usually zero – conflict means I have learned a thing or two about being humble. So has Erik. We have also both learned a lot about patience. Love. Charity. Faith. It takes having an open dialogue. That means you TALK. You talk about your feelings; you talk about your mutual desires. You make plans TOGETHER. You go to the hardware or comic book or sporting goods store for him and he comes to the fabric, crafting and heaven forbid the Waldorf store with you. Talk. I am continually amazed in the families that I work with, how many of them admit to having crazy awesome sex but no deep conversations. You have to talk to be on the same page. Again, that doesn’t mean you have to agree.
What if you are not talking? What if you are on the brink of divorce? Can you save things? I am NOT a proponent of divorce. I do however know that sometimes things are just not fixable. Either someone cheats or someone is abusive or things just prevent you from walking forward. It happens. Most of us never think we will be in that place. It happens. Walk through it and then read the first part of this post.
If you are committed and love your partner and you really want it to work, then there are things to do. First, don’t try to change your partner. Well at least not by telling them you are going to change them. I.e. “I discovered this awesome thing called Waldorf and we are going to throw out all the plastic and only buy wool and wood and by the way the TV is going too. You will love our changed lives!” Back up the truck Sally. Your husband is wondering what was so bad with your old lives. Take it slow. If you are passionate and gung ho and you have a pattern of throwing yourselves into new things then let him have time to breathe. In my experience, unless you discussed it extensively before marrying, he didn’t know you were going to breastfeed until they were 5 and sleep with them too. Now you are talking about throwing away things he worked hard to buy and taking away his way of decompressing from the day. Now… these ARE very important things of course, I am a huge breastfeeding, family bed, no TV advocate! I have just learned something my mother has been saying for years…
You get more flies with honey than you do vinegar.
What does that mean? It means get a journal, keep a blog, talk to your friends, join an email list or Facebook group about Waldorf. Then BREATHE. Slowly bring it to your husband. Make his favorite meals for dinner, make changes you can without involving him, i.e. no TV during the day while he is gone, getting your rhythm in order, eating better, sifting through the toys and taking ones to donation that you are seeking to replace, etc. take small yet deliberate actions and casually mention these things. Things taken on slow stick. Do not overwhelm yourself.
I submit that if Waldorf is a huge problem in your home, it is NOT the only problem. If there is already a lot of discord, Waldorf will just be another thing to drive a wedge. You want to get to the heart of that wedge.
Here is something else I know – your husband loves you and likely doesn’t get up in the morning thinking how he will work to make you mad. OK, some men will, but the vast majority just wants to relax after work, have food in their belly, kids that are happy and sex regularly. How do you balance that with your needs? Carefully, honestly and thoughtfully. You have to TALK. Men are problem solvers by nature. So talk in that language. “Honey, if we can get these kids to bed we can be alone.” or “Honey, I know it is hard when I want to go to bed early, but what if I wake you up at 5am for some alone time?” There isn’t a healthy man on the planet that will say no to sex at the crack of dawn. He will be very willing to help you in all things if you can lay out the issues/problems/situations without blaming or freaking out. So tell him what you are trying to accomplish and then let him help you trouble shoot things. Tell him you need alone time – see what he can do to help you.
Thank him. We love it when our kids are thankful. It feels good to have someone thank us. In so many situations, Dad is working crazy hours for his family, he needs to hear the words…Thank you. He needs to know that while he is out working for the man that you and the children are happy and thankful. Of course he should be happy to do it, but still, thank him. This is one of those things that unless you discussed it before marriage, he may have thought Jr. was just going to daycare and you were going to continue to work. Things have changed and he has adapted. Thank him for being flexible and love him for doing it. Now maybe you are in a situation like Erik and I where you both contribute, thank him anyway. Tell him how much you appreciate him. It softens him. Warms his heart and helps him to reciprocate.
Pray for him. Struggling or not, pray for him. If you are struggling then prayer is an important part of your daily desire to make things better. Asking God for a humble heart for you both is a very sweet thing. Rather than asking his mind be changed, ask that he turn his heart to his family and ask it to be softened and his neck to not be stiff. If you are trying to get him to understand Waldorf then be specific, pray his heart be opened and that he will listen. Also pray that you can be humble in the process. So many times I have sought prayer for my own gain, only to be humbled and reminded that isn’t appropriate. We all have our free will and we can all make our own choices. It is better to ask for peace and love and see what flourishes from there. Be specific. If you are lobbying to homeschool, then ask that he be open to hearing what you have to say. Listen to him. What are his fears? His concerns? They may seem silly to you, but they aren’t to him. Help him work through them. You were likely sold emotionally on Waldorf, he won’t be sold that way, he needs logic. Pray for him. If you are just starting this prayer journey then use this as practice!
Sex. Have sex. I always thought it was a lie that sex is an important binder in a relationship. I was wrong. Intimacy is SO important. I thought it was a lie because I didn’t enjoy it in my first marriage. It was creepy and controlling. That is NOT NOT NOT a healthy sex life. I remember when I was in the throws of trying to save my marriage. I had moved out of the bedroom and was staying in the guest room. I had gotten a great book by Carol Tuttle, Remembering Wholeness. I was on board with all of her suggestions and then I got to the chapter about your partner and I stopped. I read one line “Have sex with your husband and enjoy it.” WHAT?? I was NOT on board with that. I took that to my therapist and we started making my exit plan. I do believe that when the intimate side is off then it is a sign of something bigger. I contrast it with my now happy marriage – after almost eight years, I still want to be with him as badly today as I did then. It isn’t just the rustic Norse god thing he has going, it is the fact that he loves and cares for his family. He would walk through fire for all the children, even the ones he doesn’t share genetics with. While I strive to be the virtuous woman in Proverbs, he is her husband, he is proud of us and loves his part in our home. That is the biggest turn on. Of course life with five children, one of whom is a co-sleeping toddler makes us not together as often as we would like, but this is a season. We find other ways to be intimate. We hold hands, we kiss – anyone around us knows we are a bonded pair. If intimacy is missing, find a way to get back to it because YOU want to. If you don’t want to and there are greater things at play, control, power, etc. then you have to examine that on a different level.
His journey with God. You have to remember that his journey with God is his own. You are exploring inner work and working on your relationship with God, he will have to take the steps when he is ready, you can’t force it. You can pray for him, but you can’t force it. You also can’t get your feelings hurt because he isn’t ready. Pray. When I met Erik, he was already a spiritual person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t pray for him. If I am struggling with something that he does or a decision he is making that I am not on board with, I pray. I pray that either my heart be turned to him or him to me because I savor peace above all else in our home. In eight years, I can count all our fights on one hand and none of them involved yelling and screaming or the children even knowing. A very stark contrast to my first marriage.
The ultimate family goal is coming together in prayer. You may be miles and miles away from this and it is ok. You are probably again wondering what it has to do with rhythm. A lot. Coming together in prayer at the start and close of each day is very sweet. It is a very grounded way to start the day. If your partner prays but isn’t there with you as you start your day, then ask that he take a moment at X time and put his intention with yours. That time being the same time the rest of you are praying. If prayer isn’t comfortable just yet, then bring a verse together or a moment of silence to think about each other or an intention for the day… there are MANY ways to give thanks and praise!! Do not be hung up on the *right* way. Just do it
Well here we are at the end of this post. I am sure I didn’t cover it all, but I hope I have helped you have something to sink your teeth into. Need some guidance, just shout, I am happy to help.
Next week we will discuss respect and authority!!
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Love and blessings,