I spent the first years of my marriage trying to make sure everything was perfect for my husband.
If he didn’t love the way I cooked a meal, I would change it the next time.
If the traffic was bad on the way to get where we were going, I would look for another route the next time.
If he got frustrated or angry at a situation, I would feel like a failure and try to anticipate that need and fix it the next time around.
He DID NOT blame me for situations going wrong around him. Yet I almost ALWAYS felt guilt and took responsibility for his reactions.
I did this because I thought that was what ‘good wives’ did. I thought my role as a wife was to make my husband happy. I was to think of him first before myself, right? My goal was to make his life painless. I did not write out this goal, I did not even consciously make this goal. But as I look back, I know that’s what I was trying to do.
I was actually pretty good at it too. I am an organized person, a planner. So I meticulously planned out events. I am an overachiever, so when he said he would prefer something done differently, I jumped on it and learned how to do it differently. I tried to stay one step ahead and clean up the messy footprints behind.
The first years of our marriage I was filled with a lot of unspoken sadness, frustration, and feelings of failure. I loved my husband. We had some ridiculously fun times and a lot of laughs. Still, I had an overwhelming feeling of drowning. Like I could never be good enough.
Around year eight I somehow realized that Brian did not marry me to be his mother. He was a full-on adult and he had deliberately chosen to get married and leave his mother. He had chosen me to be his companion. He chose me to be his friend, his lover, his partner.
This realization was freeing. I no longer felt responsible for all his actions. I did not stress about making sure he was fulfilling all his responsibilities. I stopped feeling responsible when he overslept or when a family activity did not go as planned. It was a turning point on my side of the relationship, but it still felt like something was off. Something was missing.
It wasn’t until recently, year twelve of marriage, that I looked back on those early years and saw that I was not trying to be Brian’s mom after all. I was trying to be his Savior. Maybe more accurately, I was trying to erase his need for a savior all together.
His reactions to things that went wrong were often sinful. I took it as a personal mission to remove his sinful reactions by creating an atmosphere that was perfect. Again, he did not ask me to do this. I wrongly assumed it was my duty to do this. I thought I could place my husband in a perfect home environment, plan perfect family outings, give perfect advice for his problems, and respond perfectly to his requests and he would, in turn, be perfect in this atmosphere I had created.
That feels crazy when I say it so bluntly.
The truth is, I can never create a perfect atmosphere. And it has never been my “job” to try.
I have changed the goal in my mind from being perfect to pointing to the One who is perfect. If I have a “job” as a wife, it is to point my husband to a perfect God each time he sins.
The reality of this is not easy.
For Brian marriage was honestly a lot more fun when I was making sure everything went his way. He didn’t know I was doing this and didn’t ask me to, but once I stopped ‘catering to him’ things had to get tougher before they could get better.
His changes did not come as a result of me telling him he needed to change. They came as a result of prayers on both of our parts. It came from me starting to feel safer opening up and sharing my heart with him. I began to tell him how I truly felt. I told him the times I was feeling like a failure so he could be aware of how his reactions were impacting me. And he began taking on a new role of guarding my heart.
I really don’t know what would have happened to our marriage in the early days if I hadn’t been like I was. Maybe he would have spiritually matured a lot faster, maybe I stunted his growth.
We will never know. I just know I wish we had the marriage we have now back then.
I know we can’t go back and change the events and the attitudes that have brought us to the point we are at now, but I know we can surrender our current attitudes and habits and beg God to help us change.
And I know this is a continual work. It is a work that needs God’s Grace and mercy and love all over it. Because I am not a Savior, and each time I try to be one for someone—I will fail. But HE is a Savior and He will never fail.
I have been pregnant three times. Each time my husband and I have been pretty private about the fact that we would like to have a baby. Most the time we have not told anyone we were “trying”.
It’s like it is a fun little intimate secret we share alone. And we both love to surprise people! So we wait for the positive result and then share with close family and friends. Then we wait again for the sweet little ultrasound assuring us all is well, and then we take a cute photo and share our news with the world.
We love sharing the news, but we like to make sure we are in the “safe zone” first.
For the past 2 years we have shared our journey of loss openly. We have followed doors that God has opened and we have known it was the right thing to do. It has felt natural.
Now we have decided to try for another baby, and we feel the exact same urging to share our story. But this time it is scary. It feels like maybe we are going to be over-sharing. Maybe it’s not really necessary to fill in the whole world on every little detail of our lives.
It’s scary because I don’t know how long it will take us to get pregnant this time. I don’t know IF I will ever be pregnant again.
However scared I am to share this journey, I can’t hold back. I feel compelled to share this part of our story as much anything I’ve ever written. I feel like I NEED to write this because I know I am not alone.
I know there are women reading this who have experienced loss and are scared to go through that again.
I know there are couples struggling because one partner wants another baby and the other one doesn’t.
I know there is a mom with empty arms who just doesn’t feel ready to go through the pain again and needs to hear, ‘It’s okay. Take your time.’
I know there are people that have had their heart completely shattered and they don’t know if they can put themselves out there again.
I know there are others who need to know that peace is possible.
I’m not just talking about pregnancy here. Maybe you have given your whole heart to go for a dream and it didn’t end the way you thought it would. And you just don’t know if you can do it again. You just don’t know if your heart can take being broken again.
I’m scared, but I’m more scared of not taking a chance. I don’t want to live my life in fear. And I don’t want that for you either.
So I’m going to share this journey. I’m going to write about the trials of trying to conceive after loss. And if you can relate directly, I’m sorry but I’m glad we have found each other. If you cannot relate directly, I pray you still find hope in what I write.
I don’t want to wait until after we have the happy result to share what this process has been like. I do not want to post a happy pregnancy announcement sometime in the future and not give acknowledgement to the tears, prayers, and waiting that are behind that announcement. This has been hard. Let me rephrase that, this IS hard.
This is hard on our marriage.
The loss of a child is hard on any marriage. I have read statistics that place divorce as high as 80% after the loss of a child. I have hesitated to say how our marriage has survived this loss because I know we have never truly made it to the “other side”. We consistently are reminded of the extra challenges we are still working through.
Brian has wanted another baby for a long time. Actually, while following the ambulance to the hospital, Brian cried out to God asking for the opportunity to raise another baby. As he held me in that same hospital that same night, I told him I didn’t know if I could ever have a baby again.
We have been patient with each other and as understanding as we could be, but for the first time in our relationship, we had different dreams and thoughts about what our “end-game” family would look like.
Brian quickly realized that no baby will ever replace Beckett, and he needed to spend some time adjusting to that loss instead of just plowing ahead into the future.
I have SLOWLY given my fears over to God. I have a lot of questions and concerns still. But I know I cannot live in those fears. Brian has patiently waited on me to be ready and left this decision in my hands.
This is hard because I don’t love being pregnant.
This reason has nothing to do with losing a child, but has a lot to do with my hesitancy to try again.
I am a horrible pregnant lady. Can I confess that I just don’t enjoy being pregnant? I know it is an honor and a privilege to be able to grow and carry a life inside of me. But I worry a lot. I think everything that can go wrong has gone wrong in between each check up.
My body doesn’t handle it real well either. I swell ALL OVER. I’ve had pre-eclampsia once and high blood pressure twice. It takes me about 2 years to get back to close to pre-pregnancy weight. The choice to get pregnant is a choice to give up my body. As much as I love my babies, I just don’t love being pregnant.
But the real reason I have been so scared to try again to have another baby:
I am fearful that it will break me.
I am fearful I will never be able to lay that precious baby down, that I will not sleep for the first four months.
I am fearful I will neglect my husband.
I am fearful I will neglect my other two kids.
I am fearful I will lose another child.
I write this knowing full well that all of those fears are well founded. That as you read those last few sentences you can put yourself in my shoes and you would be fearful of the same things. Or maybe you are in my shoes and those are your fears as well.
But over the past two years I could never stop with those fears. I knew deep down in my soul, I wanted another baby. I love being a mom. I don’t feel like it all comes naturally to me. I often question whether I got the ‘mother’s intuition’ that supposedly comes along with a baby. As much as I make myself question my abilities, there is no denying my desire.
Up until this past summer I pretty much just accepted that that would be my future reality. I might lose myself for a time, our family dynamics might be tense for a time, I might live in fear, but it would all be worth it to add a precious new addition to our family.
Then I looked back on the past two years and I realized that fear and doubt do not have to rule my life through this process.
Almost two years ago we lost our precious baby boy. And in many ways it did break me. But in many more ways, I have witnessed a miracle. God has held me so tight through this time.
Not only has my marriage held together, it has been strengthened by fire.
My kids have grieved the loss of a sibling, and through the process they have loved each other fiercely and are turning into pretty great little people.
I have neglected my body, fueled it with all the wrong things and been so angry at times about it. Then I have slowly come to a place of control knowing how to actually care for this physical body.
I have not lost my faith in God through this difficult time, I have clung to Him as my source of strength.
And if God could produce this kind of miracle in the past two years, why couldn’t He do it again?
Why do I trust Him to comfort and heal the pain of the past but not the unknown of the future?
So a few months ago, the same time Brian and I started feeling the urge from God to share this journey, we also felt the peace that He could bring about a miracle in our lives.
He could create a little life to carry inside of me. That in itself is a miracle each time it happens.
He could give me peace throughout that pregnancy.
He could give me strength if I have a healthy child in my arms.
He can calm my fears.
And if it all goes wrong—if I never get pregnant again, if I am unable to carry a child to full-term, even if I have to bury another child—even then, He can give me a strength and a peace that only comes from Him.
I’ve seen Him give me strength and peace before, and I believe I’ll see Him do it again.
I also share all this to ask for prayers. I speak of the peace and strength I have experienced since losing Beckett, and I know it comes from thousands of people all over the world lifting our family up in prayer. So I’m coming to you humbly again. I am thankful for your prayers and I still need them.
And while you are praying for this miracle for us, let me just throw this in—we aren’t just praying for one healthy addition to our family. We are praying for twins. Because if we are going to pray for a miracle, we figure we should go ahead and pray for the real desire of our hearts. And a set of boy/girl twins is what our heart desires. But what our heart desires even more than that is to be content with whatever God’s plan is for our life and our family. We desire to trust Him through this process and to be overwhelmed with a peace we know is from Him.
O God, listen to my cry!
Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for you are my safe refuge,
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
I would love to pray for you as well. Let me know below or privately what you are struggling to trust God with for the future. I’m not saying this lightly; we need to know we aren’t alone. We need to know someone is cheering us on.
Sharing a drink with my friend, Brian Wright, at Taco Bell on Valentine’s Day 2005
(2 years before we had our first Valentine’s Day as an actual couple)
It’s Valentine’s day, so I feel it’s appropriate to take this time to say, I like my husband.
With our not quite normal life on the road, there are many times when Brian and I are together ALL. THE. TIME. A few weeks ago my mother-in-law even asked, “Don’t you two ever get sick of each other?” Um, yes. Yes, there are times when we both crave personal space and time alone. But for the most part we really do love spending time with each other and the abundance of family time is one of the things we love most about deputation.
I said before I’m not an overly emotional person. In our first years of marriage when Brian would know I was upset about something he would always ask, “You don’t like me right now do you?” I would answer with, “I love you” and he would fill in the blanks with, “But you don’t like me right now.”
In my mind I was supposed to love my husband. That’s what the Bible taught and that’s what people always said. But I was allowed to not always like him, wasn’t I? I mean nobody always likes their spouse.
There is a verse in the Bible where Paul tells the older women in the church to teach the younger women to love their husbands (Titus 2:4). It always seemed self-explanatory to me until I read a little deeper into it a few years ago.
In the Greek language there are different types of love. What I always assumed Paul meant here was to love my husband with agape love. That’s the self-sacrificing, I love you more than myself, kind of love that we always hear about with marriage. In reality Paul used the word phileo here. This type of love is a friendship love. Why would Paul, inspired by God, say to teach women friendship love?
Because, speaking as a woman, I know I can do sacrificial love.
I can do a whole lot for my husband—laundry (even fold it and put it away), clean up the house so it looks nice when he comes home, take care of the kids, cook his favourite meals and let him hold the remote or pick the restaurant!
I can do sacrificial love. . . all without actually liking my husband.
When I read Paul telling the women to teach this kind of friendship love it makes me believe I am not alone. In fact, the need for God to address it in His Word lets me know it is a weakness we might all struggle with. Maybe you don’t have a husband but you can see this in your relationship with a parent, close friend, or even your kids.
When it comes to phileo love, it involves our emotions. More importantly, it involves controlling our emotions. I would make the connection that controlling our emotions is tied very closing to controlling our thought life. And Paul has another great verse for that as well. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true. The truth is, I am a sinner just like Brian. Before I hold his sins against him, I need to remember that God doesn’t hold mine against me.
Instead of thinking of myself as a martyr by serving my husband even when I don’t “feel” like it, I have instead tried to learn to love him with a phileo love. It’s a love that is kind and attentive, not because it has to be, but because it wants to be. When I realize my emotions and thoughts are not going in the same direction as my self-sacrificing love, I can go through a list of questions in my mind: Am I focusing on what is true? Am I loving my current circumstances or spending my time dreaming of better? Am I loving the person I am committed to loving, or dreaming of a different scenario? Have I tried to see this situation from his point of view? The questions to ask yourself are personal to you, but chances are you know what they are.
It’s been about a year since I read this truth about the verse, and I would love to say I have learned my lesson. But there are still times Brian turns to me at the end of a long day and says, “You don’t like me right now do you?” The change is that I no longer take this as an opportunity to let him know what a saint I am for still sacrificially loving him. I now realize that it is proof that I am not making the effort and time to love my husband as a friend.
So today we will let that mother-in-law that thinks we are weird watch our two kids and I will go out on a date with the guy that I have been friends with for 10 years. We will probably just eat lunch, drink coffee/Dr. Pepper and laugh together. We will work at this thing we call our marriage because at the end of the day I want to be able to look over at him and say,