Monday, July 13, 2009

Think Twice, Because It's Not Alright

"Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" is a song about a man wanting freedom from a relationship--his heart wasn't enough, she wanted more. Probably a commitment. And that was enough to make him walk down the road at the break of dawn. She was asking for way too much. So, he is doing the honest thing by leaving.

And I wonder what the song would be like from her point of view? One of the deepest fears most people have is the fear of abandonment. From the woman's perspective, or even the jilted man's, it isn't alright. But the song just brushes it off as though the reciever of this wonderful "I'm leaving you" message shouldn't care about their loss. Besides, they didn't do much talking, anyway. This song isn't bittersweet. It is just plain old bitter.

But this kind of abandonment didn't just happen outside of marriage, it happens within it as well. You don't have to physically leave to leave a spouse. Years ago, I had a conversation with an elderly widow whose only remark about her late husband was that they had moved to opposite ends of their house, hardly ever seeing each other except in passing. They had this routine for decades after the children grew up and left. That they drifted apart is an understatement. In conclusion, she just shrugged her shoulders while I sat there in silent shock. I had expected to offer my condolences, but instead she seemed like she would have preferred my congratulations.

So, what's a couple to do?

Over the last 20 years of our marriage, I've noticed a few things that worked. The first is communication. In order for deep intimate conversation to happen, a lot of less intense exchanges need to happen. Dennis and I talk about facts, ancedotes, ideas and our emotions throughout our day. It isn't bad that most of our conversation seems superficial or even boring sometimes. We talk and we listen, all of it is important to us both. Whatever affects one also involves the other. But it makes it easier to talk about the hard stuff--the confessions, the struggles, the deep honesty and the transparency about our needs and wants. Because we listen to the little things and care about them, the big things that require more vulnerability to reveal aren't as scarey. We don't really work at keeping each other posted, we just do.

The other thing that helps is having a third party involved to talk to and get help from. For Dennis and me, that would be God. For instance, since I've been created by God, nothing that Dennis could ever complain about me to Him would surprise Him. Also, my deepest fear that I would be alone is already addressed by the fact that God has promised to never forsake me. I don't have to control or demand that Dennis be there for me--making him feel like he's chained to me. God is my source of security, I can have peace and trust in Him while at the same time revealing my heart to my husband that I have this issue and need help with it. Because I've shared this in a vulnerable way, my husband wants to be closer to me knowing that he's needed and desired. And appreciated.

God is about the best go-between you could ever want in a love relationship--He's big and powerful and trustworthy. He is faithful to deal with me or Dennis in helping us to change and grow. He shows me the right way to go about my marriage. And for our twenty year anniversary, we want to do a lot of praising Him for all His kindness and graciousness towards us.

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