The idea of a Brave Marriage has been on my mind a lot lately. The idea that we need bravery and courage to be married somehow manages to simultaneously sound completely ridiculous and absolutely accurate. When we are brave, we steel our nerves, fortify our minds, and face our fears. That doesn’t sound like the definition of a marriage, does it? Or does it?
Perhaps there are people out there who are always on the same page as their spouse. Perhaps they never hesitate to have a difficult conversation with their spouse. Maybe their spouse always seems to be in tune with their needs and so they always feel taken care of. And to be fair, there have been times in my marriage where all those things were true. But to be honest, I would say that was more the exception than the day-to-day reality of plowing through our daily grinds.
Have you ever needed to have a difficult conversation with your spouse? One that you’re pretty sure isn’t going to go well, no matter how you approach it? I have, and guess what? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go well. But those conversations and important and essential to have. Those conversations take bravery to start and they take courage to work through. And it is imperative that it isn’t just one person being brave and courageous each time. Each of you must take your turn being fearless.
I’m going to take a dip into the deep end of taboo subjects now: marriage counseling. You know what takes guts? Acknowledging that you need help and going to get it. I had thought for a long time that maybe our marriage needed the guidance of a counselor. But each time I would have that thought, I would quickly say to myself, “no, you don’t need it. It’s not like divorce is on the table right now. Counseling is for couples who are seriously considering divorce.” Um, no. That is so wrong and naive and honestly, stupid to think. I wouldn’t run a marathon without a training plan. I don’t wait until I need to be hospitalized before going to the doctor, so why would I wait until I feel like my marriage is toeing the line of separation before seeking help? Once I changed my perspective on counseling it allowed me to be brave in bringing up the idea to my spouse.
Once I had the courage to have the hard conversation about counseling, I felt as though a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders and my heart. And yes, it sucks. It sucks so bad to acknowledge the need for help with something that you “shouldn’t” or “aren’t supposed to need help with” or that “shouldn’t be hard”. Marriage is hard when you want it to be more than a checklist of tasks that you go through each day. Marriage is easy(ier) when you’re okay with the idea of your spouse being your roommate. Some days marriage is easy and you feel deeply connected to your partner and some days you’re trying hard to think of something to make small talk about and nothing comes to mind. All of that has literally happened in the same week. Marriage is ridiculous. But when you’re brave enough to have hard conversations and courageous enough to seek help when you need it (or when you think you need it), then it becomes less ridiculous and more awesome.
If you think you need marriage counseling, or your spouse thinks you need it, then you need it. Not because you’ve “failed” or are “failing” or because you “can’t” do it, but because it helps. It absolutely helps to have a neutral adult tell you how to be an adult. Obviously, counseling is much more than that, but hopefully you’re seeing the point I’m trying to make. Be brave about what you need, be courageous in seeking it out, be vulnerable to be better. And if what I’ve said rings true for you, hand this over to your spouse and ask them to read it too. If one of you think you should try talking to a counselor then you should definitely do it. And know you’re not alone. I’m in the boat with you and I’m willing to bet a lot more people than you think are in it too (despite what their social media accounts might portray).