“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34
Rachel and Jake,
Another year has passed since I last wrote to you about relationships. If you need a refresher, you can look here and here to see some of my other entries about love and what it takes to make a relationship work. Now I’m not saying I have all the answers, because I don’t. Marriage is work and it is hard, hard work. But with that being said, it’s also the best kind of work. It stretches you and helps you to grow and see yourself as a part of something that is working for a common good. It’s a beautiful thing, really. Anyway, my hope is that by the time you are old enough to read this blog you will have a nice collection of advice from your dear old mom to consider when navigating through the dating world and eventually settling down into marriage–then the real fun begins! Each year I hope to give you one more tip to add to your Rolodex of relationship advice (not sure what a Rolodex is? It’ll probably be non-existent by the time you can read this, but as your mother I find it most appropriate to talk about the things from yesteryear anyway 😉 )
Let’s talk a little bit about presence.
Ok, ok, I’m sorry, but we’re going to talk a lotta bit about presence, because it is very, very important in any stage of any relationship.
When you, Rachel, were born, your Dad and I had no idea what the every day expectation of having a newborn was going to consist of. We knew that we would feed you and change you and hopefully get to rest when you did, but we did not know what our new little family of three was going to look like and how those dynamics of our family would be shaped. It’s something that you just can’t experience or fully prepare for until it happens! We had lots of conversations about what we thought it would be like, but looking in from an outsider’s perspective before something happens is always different from when you are 100% in the trenches living it day in and day out. By the time Jake was born, we had a better picture of what our expectations were–but again, you can never really be prepared until you are living it. So once Jake was born, things were shifted and moved around in ways that we could not have foreseen, but it just worked for us.
Rachel, my sweet little dear, I have a confession to make to you right now. From the time you were born until the time you were about one week old, I did not change a single diaper. Your Dad changed every. single. one. until you were nearly a week old. Every single one. Every single time. I still get blown away when I think about that. There I was on the couch after a tough delivery that left me in pain to move any ol’ which way I tried, and there was your Dad (never having changed a diaper before you, by the way), taking it upon himself to change your diaper no matter what time of day or night without giving so much as an inkling that he felt it should or even could be any other way. Luckily, when Jake was born my recovery was much easier so luckily for us both, I was able to help out much more the second time around.
Before you were born, I thought it was only a mother’s instinct that would cause her to wake up because her newborn baby was stirring in the bassinet beside her, ready to be fed. And yet, each time either of you woke up at night, guess who was the one to get out of bed and bring you to me before I even had a chance to sit up? Yes, it was your Dad. From the very beginning of our parenting experience he has been there for us with an enthusiasm and outlook that can only come from love in it’s most pure form. He’s there because he loves us and he wants to be there. It really is as simple as that.
There isn’t a job that he won’t do. He has never handed either of you off to me because he doesn’t want to change a diaper, and he doesn’t ask me what I’m making you for lunch. If he’s playing with you and your diaper needs changed, he changes it! If he notices that it’s time for lunch, guess what? He makes it! And likewise, I do the same. It’s truly a wonderful thing. In your Dad’s and my mind–there are no “woman” or “man” jobs, there are only “parent” jobs. And for those jobs, either one–mom or dad– will work. Our expectation is that whoever is able to do it, does it. At the end of the day, we clean up the toys together, we put the dishes away and prepare things for the next day. Oh yeah, your school lunches? Those aren’t always packed by me either–your Dad can cut sandwiches into sailboats better than I can!
The best part, is that these are things we didn’t even talk about ahead of time. These examples (and there are many more to go along with them!) are just some of the ways that your Dad has been there for us without ever even giving it a second thought. Not keeping score, not throwing it all on one person, but really choosing over and over again to be there for us in every way possible.
So…without further adieu, here’s relationship tip #8.
Tip #8: Be with someone whose second nature is to be physically, spiritually and emotionally present in your relationship.
Choose someone who not only wants to be there in those ways–but someone who really does not see any other way of conducting themselves in your relationship without those things. Begging for support in any of those areas can be totally draining to both sides. Choose someone who will meet your expectations in each of those areas. If your expectations are not met, it can lead to resentment and hard feelings–both of which can be toxic to any relationship. In the entire picture of your life, your relationship should be equally balanced between two people who are willing to sacrifice and give in order to make it work. BOTH people need to be present in order for those sacrifices to be made and valued.
In closing, here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if you and your spouse are really and truly present in your relationship.
– Do I offer help with every day tasks without keeping score? Do I see what needs to be done and do it, or do I wait because it’s not my “job”? Do I value my partner enough to go outside of my comfort zone in order to help my partner feel supported?
– Do I know the spiritual concerns of my partner? What can I do to help my partner along in their spiritual journey? What do they feel called towards? How can I help them reach their calling?
– What is troubling my partner today? What is my partner proud of themselves for doing recently? What is my partner’s emotional climate like? Why? What can I do to help support my partner’s feelings and emotions?
Don’t worry–you got this! And if you don’t, your partner will be there to help you pick up the slack! 🙂 Right?
With all that said, I love you both very much. More than you could ever know.
PS. Let’s just take a minute and cheers to your Dad! He truly is one of the best one’s out there…Cheers to you, Tim! We wouldn’t be who or where we are today without you! Happy Anniversary! Here’s to a hundred, and a thousand more.