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It’s all of us, not just you! Your spouse is super awesome and you’re on a high of happiness then they do something totally selfish or stupid and you have to ask yourself, do I let go of the anger and remember all the good or do I hold on and become a bitter person? I’m kidding we don’t actually stop and think about that do we? We just react!  Let me recommend forgiveness since you’re no rainbow farting unicorn yourself. In case you haven’t figured it out this isn’t just your spouse or your kids, your sibling or your parents. We’re all imperfect with no hope for perfection so get used to it and get used to forgiving people if you want the favor returned.

We all want a magic pill that our spouse, kid or parent can take so we can take them a little easier. Again, ditto

Relationships are hard work everyday. Some days all the hard work seems to be paying off and others you’re floundering in guilt wondering what you’ve done wrong, how can you fix it and the whole time it was just a simple communication issue or a change you need to make yourself.

We were married in 1985 and it’s 2016 so my husband’s story goes like this, we’ve been married 29 wonderful years. Then he waits to see if the listener can do basic math then says, 29 “wonderful” years, there were two that sucked. Really awful almost over, that came down to me sitting on my packed suitcases by the phone (you know when it was plugged into the wall) while my husband said he’d call the pastor and go for counseling and I was saying, “Do it then.”

And he did, but I want you to know that I hated him and contemplated his demise. I have a tendency to over think so I came up with a brilliant option. That he’d get hit by the Budweiser truck and the driver would have been drinking Miller light at the Shell gas station near our house. I know you’re thinking that’s genius!

Today he can still annoy the crap out of me at times mostly because we’re slower, older and loosing our hearing but we’re old enough to know that misunderstandings are normal and we can laugh a whole lot more because we understand the foundation of marriage isn’t about us but about the calling of Christ from Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

If we didn’t understand that we wouldn’t be able to walk through the dark days of adoption or when the doctor told Michael that he didn’t have to have the surgery but he’d be dead in two years if he didn’t and then that he could die during surgery. Not funny, but I’ve got to tell you the hot flashes are hilarious!

On that fateful day when Michael called the pastor for counseling and my sister watched our three little people, we sat on the couch and Michael’s opening line was, “My wife is crazy, I hope you can fix her.” We learned something amazing that night, that it was all Michael’s fault!

Okay, not really, but it sure felt that way to both of us as we drove away. Lucky for me Michael really went to work on being a better husband and father but the crazy thing about his awesome improvement was it started making me look bad. I mean I can’t blame him for everything now can I?

For ten years this pastor and his wife looked after us, encouraged us, listened to us, laughed at us, no seriously, when you’re in your twenties you say some stupid stuff. They taught us great skills that Rick’s written down in a book for you to use too! 5:21

Twenty nine wonderful years later I have that book on my shelf and can pull it out and hear his voice. It’s so simple and not grand or elaborate with seven magic steps but a deep abiding truth that has seen us through many hard times.

Then there was the time, I can’t remember when that we went for counseling at our church for just one annoying thing. Problem solved. Then we went again 9 years ago and the pastor, who’s our age and a friend kind of laughed when we all sat down and said something like what are you doing here? Your the healthy family. BUT we were building our house at the time, like literally hammer and nails, not hiring contractors and we were arguing alot and we just needed a refresher course because we seemed to have forgotten how to be nice. It was awesome to be reminded!

We thought we’d seen it ALL by then, closing in on 25 years of marriage (23 wonderful years) but then we came in close contact with “social services.” Talk about a nightmare! What does a nice family do that’s successfully raised/raising kids  when they’re feeling really blessed? They decide to take in more kids! Michael and I had talked about this  before we got married and here we were doing it! Oh my God we’re awesome!

Pride goes before a fall is an understatement when it comes to my less than awesome moments in this process. We couldn’t have done it if we didn’t have the support of awesome friends who’d done it before us and truly understood the hardship that comes with social services. One friend described “social services” as a group of people who are in charge of the children but usually don’t have their own children, are very young and know how to best raise children even though they don’t want any of their own, but they know exactly what you should do. It took it’s toll.

But we came up fighting on the same side! Even when things look dark and they’re down, you have to let love win, forgive, accept and keep moving forward together.

We’re so blessed right now to have a large group of older couples in our lives each with their own amazing story most over 70 with a lifetime of pain, loss and sadness behind them but still joyful in their journey because they have someone to love. For about half of them it’s a new love because the old one passed away or they were divorced along the way but because they learned how to love they can find a new love. One of the guys in his 80’s jokes that his current wife of 10 years wouldn’t have married him if his first wife hadn’t trained him because he was trouble back then.

Life comes at all of us the same. If we want to be in relationship and have healthy happy families we have to start with and as we walk along the way we have to invite people in to encourage, correct and reprove. When you do that with your spouse and they do that with you and you gather other people willing to do that (I’m not saying it’s easy because most people don’t want to be corrected) and you’re a happier person that can invite more people into your life like your own family, your siblings, parents and children. When you learn to address the hurt and forgive you learn what true love is.