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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Are You Tough Enough for My Love?

Recently after a long day at work, I was about to head home and the song Coming Home by Cinderella occurred to me.  Specifically these lyrics: 

I see the fire in your eyes but a man's gotta make his way
So are you tough enough for my love
Just close your eyes to the heaven above
I'm comin home, I'm comin home

In the song, the lead singer is reflecting his time on the road, the impact it has on his family and the anticipation of going back to family.  Anyway, he asks a good question: "So are you tough enough for my love"?  This got me to thinking, relationships can take a lot of work, a lot of dedication and frankly just ability to cope with difficult circumstances.  The common refrain in wedding vows such as listed below.

I, ___, take you, ___, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part."

That vow wasn't created for no reason.  It's been widely recognized across time and cultures that marriage isn't always an easy journey.  Often times, I think people really have no idea just how much work it is or will be.  Hence the vow doesn't sugar coat marriage.  It speaks of a commitment.  Not just words, but the willingness and mindset that you are in it for the long haul.  Anyone who has been previously married or has been married for a long time is likely to get this (or should get it), but you know I get these inspirations and feel the need to remind everyone of this.  ;-)

We don't always know what we are getting into when we get married and really how can we?  Typically, there is usually so much we don't know about each other.  We go off our gut, we go off our instinct and lets just be frank, we go off our hope based on something intriguing we find in each other. 

In my blog post, It's just you and me and we just disagree..., I explored the idea that not all relationships that end are do to a "bad guy" or lack of effort, but that it's an easy trap to label failures as having a "bad guy".  In my 48 years, I've seen friends and family have failed marriages, been a child of and once even been part of a failed marriage.    Here are some of the obstacles I've seen to successful marriages which require "toughness" or "understanding" or "commitment" (that in some cases can apply to both partners).
  • Partners in the marriage either don't have or haven't made the time necessary to get to know each other.  
    • Work schedule
    • Kid schedule 
  • A trauma has hit close to home.  Examples include:
    • Child gets sick or dies.  
    • Someone has had health problems, sometimes to a point in which it has changed the person or the dynamics of the relationship.
    • Financial disaster such as bankruptcy or failed business.
  • A spouse had unresolved hurts.
    • Especially, but not limited to family of origin hurts.  
    • Perhaps we already know that he or she has hurts, but not necessarily the extent.  
    • In a way, this is a trauma at an early age.
    • His/her reactions seem out of proportion or puzzling to us.  But, when taken in the context of hurts can be seen as 'protecting' him or herself.
  • A spouse has hangups (or a tendency towards) that we weren't aware of or aware of the extent of.  Examples include:
    • What we perceived as having an occasional drink was in reality our spouse hiding (or denying) a real problem with alcohol.
    • A spouse gets sick and takes pain killers only to have them take over his or her life.
  • A spouse has annoying habits or idiosyncracies that we didn't see so clearly when we were just dating.  Examples include:
    • Being a control freak.  What seemed like organization on their part or "being helpful" now is more clearly control.
    • Making important decisions/purchases without at least passing it by the other spouse.
    • Being disorganized.  It may not have seem like such a big deal or obvious during the dating stage, but we find that it gets in the way of being productive.
This isn't meant to be an all-inclusive list of obstacles to a successful marriage, but just some things I've observed over the years.  Your list very probably will be different.  In any case, even when each partner in a marriage wants the marriage to succeed and truly cares about the other spouse, this is a question that can be asked.  We don't always express our love to our spouse the same way.  We don't always express our love to our spouse in the same measure.  We don't always express our love to our spouse effectively in our actions.  But, in each case, that doesn't mean it isn't present.  In a way, I guess it boils back down to the question.

"So are you tough enough for my love."

Each partner has his/her flaws and his or her ways of expressing themselves, but I guess the question we have to ask early on--when we are answering the question, "Do you take..."--is our we tough enough to accept the imperfect love that our spouse shows us?

Just some thoughts.  Thanks for reading and I hope everyone who reads this finds the courage, strength and fortitude they need to appreciate their imperfect spouse, especially when their spouse really does care about them.