we belong to you and me

Over the weekend I was loading up several large bags of clothes to take to Goodwill and came to a stack of picture frames in our hall closet. One thing I am learning is that photographs pressed to glass don’t fair so well in hot moving trucks. I’ve stored several frames that had some snapshots in them that had some damage. I decided to carefully remove the photographs and donate most of the frames to Goodwill with our clothes we are no longer wearing.

Every time I see this particular picture it takes me back to such a different time.photo-5

This photo was taken in March of 2007 just two months before a doctor’s appointment would turn our lives upside down. I was just barely pregnant here with Kate; and I had no clue what road lay ahead with my pregnancy. Ryan was working at the church and taking crazy amounts of hours at seminary. Life in the military wasn’t even on our radar. Ryan and I had been married just a little over five years and this was the year we both turned 30.

What makes me laugh when I look at this photo is the fondness with which I reflect upon just how little we still knew one another and how we knew even less about our marriage. (Months later we would face one of our greatest hurdles and begin to learn what it really meant to lean on one another in desperation.)

*****

Ryan and I are the same age. We both graduated high school the same year and have shared many milestones because of this fact. The year we both turned 30 we had decided that we would definitely recognize the landmark birthday.

My birthday is in February and falls first in a calendar year. Ryan had planned a wonderful weekend away just for us. He surprised me (which I hate) and had my parents keep Thomas and Mae and we drove down to Atlanta for a romantic weekend. I was as sick as a dog from morning sickness and remember sleeping against the cold window of his truck most of the way down there.

Ryan had made us reservations to stay at the historic Georgian Terrace in Midtown. We had an awesome suite. He made dinner reservations at a swanky little bistro called the Pleasant Peasant (now closed) and bought us tickets to see (another) play at the Shakespeare Tavern. This was an awesome weekend just the two of us. Despite my near constant nausea I really did have a great time. We ordered room service and just spent time together, away from the demands of work, school and life with two tiny young children. Ryan even made a CD of some sweet, romantic Dave Barnes music.

The weekend was memorable but what I love most about all of that is the time and thought that went into Ryan making all of those plans.

Fast-forward another month to March and it was time for me to return the favor for Ryan’s 30th birthday. Also a surprise (which he hates), I booked the Greenway in Hixson, had Moe’s cater the evening and hired a DJ. I invited 40 of our closest friends and family and asked everyone to wear clothes from 1977. I found fun decor, had a gallery of photos of Ryan from birth to present and even made a party favor of a CD with all of the top hits from 1977.

The photo above is from that night. It was me, all giddy with excitement about getting out on the dance floor with Ryan and him giving me a look that was probably meant to look more like gratitude for throwing him a party, but instead looks a little more like aggravation that he was going to have to dance.

You see, I knew Ryan didn’t like to dance, really. I just figured that if I went to the trouble and expense of having a DJ in a small venue that he’d be forced to get out there and cut a rug.

Guess what?

Ryan danced one slow song with me and the rest of the night was spent with me and my mom and best girl friends out there sweatin’ to the oldies.

In the days and weeks following the disco party, Ryan and I had several discussions and laughs about the ways in which we each decided to help the other celebrate turning 30.

The conclusion:

Ryan took me out of town on the quiet, introverted weekend HE would have liked for himself.

I threw Ryan the loud, fun, extroverted party I wish he’d thrown for me. (All I ever wanted was a live DJ.)

*****

It’s funny now looking back at those events with hindsight and the benefit of several more years of marital wisdom. Clearly we were doing just what Gary Chapman so eloquently expresses in his book The Five Love Languages. We were showing each other “love” in the way we want to be shown. I was speaking the language I wanted Ryan to speak to me and vice versa. We gave each other the birthday celebrations we wanted for ourselves. 

While I don’t think we were conscious of that fact at the time, that’s exactly what was going on. Our intentions were good and our motives were pure. Our methods were ultimately self-serving.

This lesson is one I think we have learned on a larger scale. I don’t hire anymore DJs and Ryan knows that as much as I enjoy a quiet weekend away, I often love celebrating with a crowd.

On a smaller scale, this is a concept we are still trying to put into practice on a daily basis.

*****

It’s difficult sometimes to think of the other person first. It’s hard to want to do for them what they need or show them love in the way they need to be loved. It’s especially difficult when we feel that our own needs may not be being met. It’s an ever-so-slight lie that the Enemy whispers in our ear to “look out for yourself.” “Make sure your needs are being met.” “Do what you need to do to feel loved, appreciated, desired, or noticed.”

Since the New Year, I’ve gotten news of FOUR marriages of people I know failing due to infidelity and compromise. And it absolutely breaks my heart and makes me grieve. I think what makes me so sad is that I know marriage can be fragile. I know that marriage takes so much daily work and attention. Life gets difficult and busy. We get distracted. It takes energy (that most of us often don’t have) to engage with our spouses and peel back the pleasantries and take a serious look at how our marriages are really doing. Sometimes it’s easier to avoid those discussions and to continue to go through the motions, pretending that things are fine.

Finding that old photograph over the weekend reminded me again that Ryan and I must continue striving and seeking to place the other’s needs ahead of our own. It takes effort and we can’t let too many days go by without acknowledging this.

“When you feel great delight in someone, meeting their needs and getting their gratitude and affection in return is extremely rewarding to your ego. At those times you may be acting more out of the desire to get that love and satisfaction yourself, rather than out of a desire to seek the good of the other person. Kierkegaard observed, you may not be loving that person so much as loving yourself. ”  Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

I am praying today that God would fortify marriages. I am praying that his TRUTH would speak more loudly than any lie of the Enemy. I am praying for courage for husbands and wives to set aside their exhaustion and fears, their disappointments and loneliness and to get honest with one another. I am praying for selflessness and eyes to see what our spouses need more than seeking to serve ourselves. I pray this for you. But I also pray this for my own marriage.

*****

“How Deep Is Your Love” (The Bee Gees, 1977)

I know your eyes in the morning sun
I feel you touch me in the pouring rain
And the moment that you wander far from me
I wanna feel you in my arms again

And you come to me on a summer breeze
Keep me warm in your love and then softly leave
And it’s me you need to show
How Deep Is Your Love

How deep is your love, How deep is your love
I really need to learn
‘Cause we’re living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

I believe in you
You know the door to my very soul
You’re the light in my deepest darkest hour
You’re my saviour when I fall
And you may not think
I care for you
When you know down inside
That I really do
And it’s me you need to show
How Deep Is Your Love

How deep is your love, How deep is your love
I really need to learn
‘Cause we’re living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

And you come to me on a summer breeze
Keep me warm in your love and then softly leave
And it’s me you need to show
How Deep Is Your Love

How deep is your love, How deep is your love
I really need to learn
‘Cause we’re living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

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6 thoughts on “we belong to you and me

  1. Julie says:

    Chad and I have had the benefit of being “just the two of us” for so long now, you would think that we would have the art of gift-giving and care-giving down to a “T”. In fact, this is still a struggle for us sometimes. I often find myself conflicted with the thought of, “well this is just how I show love.” When, of course, it is me loving him in the ways that I want to be loved.

    The past year, the both of us have really tried to emphasize our actions based on how well we know the other person. I engage in his deep conversations about buggie building, guns or inventions, often sparking them while in the tool aisle at Lowes. He picks a new restaurant based on their menu containing my favorite foods, then takes me to shoot ball or go for a trek in the woods to explore. We are both content, and our fondness for one another has grown exponentially!

    Love that you shared the insite!

    Like

  2. Meghan Cobble says:

    Marriage is hard. It sucks rocks sometimes. And other times, it leaves me breathless from the overwhelming love I have received. Approaching year 13 in my own, I can say it hasn’t been all roses. It has been some “guns-n-roses.” I have never felt more loved and more left in our years togehter. And I can bet my husband would agree. You know what I think is the hardest? The juggle of child care & rearing, individual child training & strengthening, husband attending, couple growing, personal space & growth and professional aspirations. Sometimes I feel like I tank at all of it. Lots of times really. If I could wish for one thing, it would be for my husband and myself to communicate more. We are opposites. Like OPPOSITES. Polar. And I see your illustration so easily in my marriage so often.

    I really think that God is the ONLY thing that can work through us, to us and for His glory.

    I’m really thankful for where we are today and am prayerful for where we are headed.

    Meg 🙂

    Like

    • claire says:

      “Guns-n-roses!” Love it. And yes, the ‘juggle’ is real. And I fail at it miserably. Thanks for sharing your heart Meghan! I agree with you that God is the remedy. Couldn’t do any of it without him.

      Like

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