When a couple gets married, they know a lot about one another. But their relationship winds up being built as much upon their lack of knowledge about one another as it is upon that existing knowledge.
Couples walk into every marriage with a set of assumptions and expectations about their spouse that will inevitably bring the relationship to a fork in the road with several paths to take. How can you know which path is the right one?
Ask yourself these two questions:
1. What are you protecting?
If I may speak for husbands a bit (seeing that I am one), the road we most often take is the one where we begin to divide ourselves into pieces. Some pieces we share with our spouse, and some we hold in secret for the sake of avoiding the destruction of a façade we’ve built.
We take this road because in some unconscious way, the fear of what might happen were we to be truly vulnerable feels far worse than a life lived half in the dark, which is akin to death by paper-cuts or some sort of time-release suicide.
The road less taken – the one that makes all of the difference – is what some call “The Way of the Cross.” In my life, I started by asking myself what I was trying to protect or save by holding back the truth about who I am, what I desire, what I struggle with, or what I believe to be beautiful, sexy, powerful, hideous, moving, repulsive, hurtful, or confusing. I realized I was trying to preserve something that actually needed to die.
If my marriage couldn’t survive the truth about me – the whole truth – then I didn’t want it anymore. I realized that time-release suicide wasn’t the life I desired.
2. Is your life worth dying for?
And so, after some careful thought and prayer, one day, I told my wife, “We need to talk.” I planned what I was going to say carefully and prepared myself for destruction. I focused on not letting my ego get in the way to stop the honesty, either by holding back or by trying to steal away my wife’s right to experience whatever she was about to experience. She was going to have questions about my porn use. They wouldn’t be fun to answer. But I was going to answer them. All of them if need be.
I wasn’t even sure if this was the healthiest way to approach it, but at the time, I needed to let it all hit the ground and break. And if we were able to get through the conversation alive, I was ready to face the next day and move forward. It wasn’t my job to decide for my wife whether she was ready to move forward. I knew I would have to wait for her, allow her to hurt, and allow her to face her own demons, just like I was determined to do.
That was six years ago. I now live in a marriage that can best be described as home. There is nothing in the shadows – and it turns out that letting all of my crap hit the floor and shatter into a million pieces – and allowing her to see that – was the beginning of the birthing of something new in my life and in our marriage. It turns out my wife was stronger than I thought she was. And so was I.
Courage to all of those who are ready to die for the sake of living. May your bruises be blessed. Now tell your wife: “We gotta talk.”