Friday, September 27, 2013

Q & A Session #2: Loss of Our Lydia: Relationship Questions

In this post I'm going to answer the 3 main questions I was asked about my relationship with my husband during the past few years dealing with loss. I have to add a disclaimer, though: There are always 2 sides to every story and I can only speak for myself. 

I'm not going to pretend I know what was going on in my husband's head at that time. I'm only speaking from my experiences and my perception. This post is not about placing blame. It's simply to illustrate what can happen when a traumatic experience, like loss, can cause a rift in a loving and otherwise healthy relationship. But also, to show there is hope for broken relationships!  As I said in my first post in this series, Heavenly Father has healed me. He has placed in me a new heart. He is the source of all peace and joy. He was able to take the yucky parts and turn them into something beautiful.  That is what healed my marriage.

Here's my side:

How did you get to the point where you (almost) left?
The postpartum depression I mentioned in my first post wasn't necessarily what caused my walking out, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. And it was absolutely the catalyst for change in our lives and our relationship, and for that I will always be grateful.

Over the course of our 6 year marriage we were constantly in survival mode. We had a lot of really stressful situations. Most of which we chose, but some we didn't. And something I forgot along the way was that even though we chose the situation, we never get to choose the outcome. And forgetting that, made me feel out of control. The more I tried to have control, the less I felt. And the more I drove a wedge between my husband and myself. And the bigger the wedge got, the harder I tried to control everything. It was a viscous cycle and I was my own worst enemy. I wanted things to be they way I wanted them. I wanted my pregnancies just to "work out" like everyone else's did. I wanted my husband to be the way I wanted him to be. I wanted to be perfected without putting in any of the hard emotional work. I thought I was owed it. I'd had a hard life and made the most of it,  and surely I deserved good things for being a good person, right? I was so wrong. 

Being good doesn't automatically equal good things in life. This was a super hard lesson for me to learn. But one that is absolutely worth sharing in the future. (I'm planning to write a follow-up post on this one!) Once I realized that lesson, I was able to see the good things in life I did have, and not just the "good things" I thought I wanted. Heavenly Father's plan is always so much bigger and better than ours. Hallelujah!

Has your love for Jorge changed?
I remember thinking on our wedding day that I couldn't possible love him any more than I did in that moment. But I can say now, I love him a million times more deeply today than I did then. Our experiences shape who we become, and I'm grateful through these experiences, though long and hard, have shaped our marriage into something I am proud of.

How has your relationship changed in the months since?
It's gotten so much better! Seeing myself in a new light was crucial to our healing. But even more important was being able to see my husband in a new light. I wasn't alone in the suffering.  Jorge was hurting from all this loss too. He was suffering from the lack of partnership in our marriage too. We were falling apart. It was a revolutionary concept. I had been so selfish. Always focused on the things I wanted and all the things I didn't. Marriage is a covenant between 3 people - you, your spouse and God. And somehow I tried to completely circumvent my spouse in this covenant. And by doing that, I wasn't even really doing my job being committed to God either. I was just hanging out by myself thinking I was all good in my marriage. Wow.

My Bishop gave me a talk from the April 2013 session of the LDS General Conference that illustrated this message of unselfishness in marriage. The talk was by Elder Whitney L. Clayton. He said,

"I have learned that happy marriages rely on the gift of repentance. It is an essential element in every good marital relationship. Spouses who regularly conduct honest self-examination and promptly take needed steps to repent and improve experience a healing balm in their marriages. Repentance helps restore and maintain harmony and peace. Humility is the essence of repentance. Humility is selfless, not selfish. It doesn’t demand its own way or speak with moral superiority. Instead, humility answers softly and listens kindly for understanding, not vindication. Humility recognizes that no one can change someone else, but with faith, effort, and the help of God, we can undergo our own mighty change of heart. Experiencing the mighty change of heart causes us to treat others, especially our spouses, with meekness. Humility means that both husbands and wives seek to bless, help, and lift each other, putting the other first in every decision. Watch and learn: repentance and humility build happy marriages."

While we are not perfect, we have adopted this pattern of self-examination and repentance he speaks of.  I can say it definitely is a humbling experience to admit when you are wrong and to ask your spouse for forgiveness.  However, doing so has an effect that is so much more rewarding than any instant gratification derived from self-righteousness. I love my husband. I have been so selfish and hard on him in our now (almost) 7 years of marriage. But I am grateful that God has put in me a new heart and allowed His balm to heal our marriage.