16 Sep Understanding One Another’s Uniqueness
In December of this year, my husband and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We were just 24 and 25 years old when we married. After ten months of dating, six months of engagement, four premarital counseling sessions through our church, two books on marriage, and jointly listening to Tim Keller’s sermon series on marriage, we were self-proclaimed marriage “experts” headed toward marital bliss. It did not take long, even just a few weeks perhaps, to see that this may not be the case.
Fast forward four years, Michael had completed dental school and residency and we were moving back to South Carolina after two years in Texas. We had no money, were about to start the adoption process, were starting over in a new community with no friends, and Michael was working long hours to get his dental practice off the ground. Michael beginning to generate income was a bit of a role reversal as I had been the provider while he completed his schooling. I was now going to be home full time focusing on online graduate school to be a counselor while he entered the workforce full time and full speed ahead. Thus began the hardest year of our marriage.
While Michael focused all his energy on making his dental practice a success, I had more free time than I knew what to do with and became very lonely. With so much time to think, it didn’t take long for me to develop a very critical attitude towards Michael who came home late and was too weary to be bothered with the details of my day at home. I remember working on my coursework on the front porch while watching as all the other husbands returned home to their wives and thinking it would be hours before mine came home to me. Even when he got home though, he wouldn’t have the energy to engage me as my heart desired.
“Looking back I can see how our negative cycle kept us from connecting in the ways we most desired.”
Today I am an emotion focused couples counselor (EFT), and I often talk with couples about their “cycle,” or negative pattern of interaction. Looking back I can see how our negative cycle kept us from connecting in the ways we most desired. My pursuit of time with him doing something fun and requests that he serve me by completing projects around our new home only caused him to pull away in frustration. In his weariness, he was unable to show me love in the ways I was asking and instead saw these requests as insensitivity on my part and a lack of understanding of how hard he had been working all week to provide for me and our future children. Surely I should just let him rest when he was home and provide words of affirmation about how much I appreciated how hard he was working, right? The problem for me was that I refused to validate his weariness when I preferred he not work as hard in the first place. The more invalidated he felt, the less he wanted to be around me. The more I saw him pull away, the more critical I became both in word and thought. There were times I cried bitter tears and questioned, “Did I marry the wrong person?”
It has been nearly 5 years since that difficult season, and it took some professional counseling, growth and, maturity to get to a place where we can honestly say we feel like the perfect match for one another. In counseling, we learned about our communication styles and how one is not wrong but just different. We were also able to hear how our actions and words were hurting one another in ways that we had not realized.
“We were able to hear how our actions and words were hurting one another in ways that we had not realized.”
Looking back at that difficult season, I can see where several ‘oneness destroyers’ such as an unwillingness to forgive, idolatry of marriage/unrealistic expectations, weariness, and a critical attitude all contributed to our lack of connection. Thankfully today most of those no longer apply. We still have problems and sin against one another daily, but God has done a big work in and through us and we are so thankful that we stayed true to our commitment to marriage and to one another.
-Kelly and Michael Bozard
As part of our One series, we’ve asked several people to share some of their experiences and stories as it relates to each sermon topic and how it has played out in their marriage or in their life. We appreciate the Bozards taking time to share how they’ve had to overcome and embrace their unique gender identities in their marriage. Has the One series prompted any questions you would like addressed? We’d love to answer some in a Q&A at the end of the series. Email questions to [email protected].