“You need to give each other more grace.“ Our marriage counselor intentionally looked each of us in the eye last week.
Gaps. My gaps stare at my mate. His stare right back at me. And our marriage counselor sees it all.
“Grace to focus on the motives and attempts. The grace to ease up on each other with patience and perseverance, instead of addressing the Gaps. “Lots of grace…” the message comes through no matter what the issue of the session.
“Honey, I’m sorry you’re having a bad day and I hope the rest of the day is better.”
This is the note I keep on my desk to remind me how to speak words of empathy.
Brilliant if I remember when the occasion actually arises
These are not words that spill from my mouth when my spouse is under fire from within or without. I have questions and advice or suggestions. Not this.
Gaps. Gaps and more gaps. In bad times they expand. In better times they shrink.
Recently I ran into a boomer newlywed who asked how I was doing two years into my marriage.
“My husband is my iron man,” I winked quoting a verse… “as a friend to a friend, so iron sharpens iron.”
“This is hard!” The second-time arounder’s eyes widened, “We are going from Bible study to Bible study trying to figure this out.”
A professional communicator told me awhile back, “It took me ten years to learn how to communicate with my husband.”
Why does communicating—talking, listening and understanding each other have to be so hard?
“Men’s and women’s brains are different,” our counselor relayed again last week. When we forget—we judge incorrectly.
The male mind sequences events and words in order—one event and action followed by the next, logical. He processes one thing at a time well and focuses on one project at a time. That allows him to complete his work.
Women’s brains have neurons that shoot from side to side and connect both sides of their brains at the same time. They can multitask because of it. They can have a few things going at the same time, whether conversation or projects, leave various ones and pick up where they left off on others, easily. It’s a brain function.
Some of our adjustments are because we have different personalities and methods of assessment and decision making.
“You are random—he is linear.” No protest.
“Steve can’t understand you when you make comments aside from a spoken context or speak quickly and change topics. You need to slow down, pace yourself and give what you say a context. It’s not a group of women chit-chatting away and running off on a hundred rabbit trails that intersect and eventually wind up complete.”
“Don’t talk to me like you talk to your girlfriends,” my husband kindly reminds me…often.
One thought at a time? Easy to say. It’s easy to think I can but as I’m thinking and speaking of one thing, other thoughts pop up that add reference. At least I think it does? My husband says they are another topic. Hmm. A woman and ADHD. God help me, because I have to change…and I have always been this way. And so I pray and ask God to change me. When I married Steve, I committed to be the best I can be for this man, for our marriage. And he, me. We are both so thankful we have a person who gives us wise counsel and feedback we sometimes can’t receive from each other.
“You have a different style. You need to find a compromise. Your way is not better or worse than his/her way,” we have both heard this reminder multiple times. It means dying to myself and what I want, including waiting to address issues he is not at the moment ready to address! I am the spontaneous—not the diplomat. It means Steve bends also in his time and focus. Humility and pleasant words, promote instruction. It is the growing ground for couples. “I can grow. You can grow. We can grow together.”
When one of us is in a dormant season or having a bad day, the other will have spaces and gaps that are not filled.
We will fail to meet each other’s needs and feel empty spaces in those places. We need to forgive the neglect and forget the bleakness of harsh words and bad attitudes.
Grace from God who loves and accepts us in our crazy ins and outs—is what fills the void. His unconditional love and presence makes up the difference every time and carries us through to the flowers. To the love that blooms again.
A love that is intentionally voiced or texted daily in our marriage simply as “I love you.”
Why? Because as we decided in premarital counseling to take this advice. It restates commitment to each other in good times and bad. Loyalty. Perseverance. Dedication to devote ourselves to being present even when we don’t feel like it. Presence. 90% of life is showing up,” I have posted in my bathroom.
But the future of our marriage is more than being around. It is actively planting seeds of love and kindness, of talking and listening, of apologizing and weeding—when the time is right. Seeds planted today, irregardless years of marriage, will sprout and blossom into fragrance we can each enjoy season by season and flowers we can each touch. Sowing seeds reaps real life displays of colorful growth in our garden of love.
At two and a half years young we are feeling less gaps, as we give each other the learning time God gives us. When I feel the Gaps within myself (or Steve’s) are expanding—I spend more time with Jesus. And so does he. We each need our Mediator, our most Wonderful Counselor who is always available 24/7.
We receive His grace to say the words, “I love you” daily. As we allow the Lord to fill the gaps with His love and comfort, unconditional love we don’t always give to ourselves or each other so readily—Jesus gives freely. Our hearts needs are soothed. His grace fills the gaps as we grow closer to God… and closer and more patient with each other.