Loving well is far more work than I ever imagined. There are the seasons when it feels like a breeze, when you hardly notice you're doing it because it naturally flows out of you. Then there are seasons where if no one asked you may not realize that really you are not participating in the loves in your life, what some may call steady, I would say it can also be complacency. Then there are those seasons when you tiptoe around or get real busy and avoidance becomes the norm. Many know the seasons where you are aware of every brick you carry, every dollar you earn, every laundry you fold, and the bitterness curls up on the sofa in your house.
I have allowed myself to be fooled over and over by the idea of a 50/50 marriage (If this is working for someone, please write me today). Many years of my marriage more closely resemble 80/20. Six years ago I remember a poignant moment in my car where I was sobbing on the phone with my sister and I needed to choose to step up in my marriage. To rise when Stephen was at one of his very lowest times. To not join the party of defeat but find ways to be a voice of grace, strength, and hope. I felt so sobered to realize how wrong I had been above love, thinking that so much was the reward and pleasure of it - which it is, but also to love well meant the deepest dive into my gut to show up for someone else. To show up when it wasn't feeling natural or reciprocated. That season changed me. I believe that season also changed Stephen. I participated and I stood witness and it was not all pretty but it was real and deep and textured.
My pride led me to believe that I was likely to spend the marriage playing the 80% role. Thinking back over the last three years I bow my head at my naievite. Even the season we are in now, one where I make it through days, they aren't peppy or particularly visionary, they are logistical and cyclically laborious, they are days when energy goes to two small humans - I am jarred by my own need. And also I am in awe of Stephen's 80%. I see him seeing me. I see him responding not always only in the ways that are natural to him but responding in ways that he knows will speak right to my heart. I see him giving us all he can when he can and i battle my pride and practice gratitude for him.
This is the last week of my 30's. It's Valentine's and the beginning of Lent and my dad's 70th birthday. I have been feeling all the feels and my heart is overwhelmed. I came into the week weak. And I have found my way through these days because my partner has showed up over and over again. He decorated the house, he made homemade valentines for the kids and got me gifts for each day to make it like a Sue Wilson birthday week. I have been so energized by his care. I have accepted my need and received his 80%. Let me tell you that is tough on these bones. AND it is love. It is this season. My disdain for my need and impatience with my ache do not help me grow as a person. My softening towards myself and receiving of help expand my heart. We are 16 years in and still learning new things all the time. That's love. I had it all wrong.
I feel this invitation now to rethink 50/50 and to allow the seasons to be what they are. It's not just the love I share with Stephen, it's with others too. To ebb and flow and ultimately invite us into what we most need to grow and change.