And Suddenly, You Realize...

No, I didn't forget that I promised to write more about marriage today, but I'm interrupting myself because sometimes... well sometimes you can't predict what will move you.

Today was just 'one of those days'. You know, the kind of day where you feel vaguely sensitive and agitated. Where your "to do" list isn't getting crossed off and your stresses seem to outnumber your happy thoughts. And then a friend of mine posted this link on Facebook... and my perspective changed in an instant.

 The Matthew's Story. WARNING: If you have experienced a traumatic illness for your child, or loss of your child- use caution when reading.

It's amazing how feeling a sense of the greater community (their suffering, their joy) will help you deal with even the worst days. All of a sudden, the things that were causing migraines seem insignificant and all you can do is whisper a prayer for a fellow human being while you hug your loved ones a little tighter.

I can't make sense of it all, I really can't. It begs much deeper questions than I have answers for. My heart aches.

And even stranger, I feel compelled to share their story. Interesting how the need for community is so deeply ingrained in us. Without even actually knowing them, I want others to hear their story- offer their love, support, sympathy, prayer.... And really, my "to do" list- whether it gets done or not- matters very little in this moment.

Wishing you health, love and the support of those around you,


What Is Marriage For?

"Dearly Beloved, we have gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Cindy and Paul*.... And now, the vows:

Paul: Cindy, I promise to feign interest in what you say while not really caring. I promise to be kind to our future children, but only be involved so long as you force the issue. I promise to only talk badly about you when you can't hear me. I promise to hold silent grudges for years at a time, only speaking my mind when I am so furiously angry that I can only scream hateful things. I promise to love you in "name" but not in deed.

Cindy: Paul, I promise to make passive-agressive remarks to you in front of our friends and family. I promise to ignore your sexual desires and needs until you give up. I promise to only keep some secrets. I promise to be bored by you and give up trying to connect. I promise to love you in "name" but not in deed."

Ouch, I hate even writing those words. They pain me. But I've got a point today and I'm going to make it directly: We care too much about the contract of marriage, and not enough about the heart of it.

In my work, I have seen people spend years and even decades in a loveless marriage. They gave up long ago. Their hearts have grown cold and the distance between them is infinite. Yet they ask me to: save their marriage. Translation- 'keep us from the shame, expense, and burden of divorce'.

And I have to say- "Are you even married now?" You look at your lifelong partner and lover, and only see cold distance. You are lonely in your own marriage. You fantasize about life apart. You burden your children and loved ones with the tension you've gotten used to. Is this the marriage you signed up for? Is this what you pictured on your wedding day?

It is time we stopped seeing a marriage as "saved" because two people remained legally married, and start seeing a "saved" marriage as a caring, loving, committed, trusting, connected partnership.

Ask yourself this: if my marriage stayed exactly as it is now for the rest of my life, would I be okay with that? And if your answer is "no!" then might I recommend you look into marriage enrichment now.... and not only when the piece of paper is on the line? Let's find the urgency and passion you once had for your marriage.

Life is so short... why not spend it with your best friend and partner?

ps- I'll be writing about "Can My Marriage Be Saved?"  next... stay tuned!


Infertility and Silence

While I frequently like to post funny or interesting things on here, today I'd like to take a (serious) moment to talk about a struggle dear to my heart: Infertility. Specifically, the silence surrounding it. This article says it best:

"One in eight American couples will experience infertility, and 1.1 million women will undergo treatment this year. That most won’t talk about it makes it that much more painful: A recent survey of infertility patients reveals that 61 percent hide the struggle to get pregnant from friends and family...."

The article goes on to say that most couples find it easier to claim they don't want children, than to talk about their infertility struggles.

To fear that you will never hold a child of your own is painful enough, but to then suffer that fear in silence and (sometimes) shame? In my mind that's unbearable. My heart hurts to imagine it.

I personally believe that the infertile suffer in silence mostly because of the reactions they have received when they were brave enough to speak. So today, I'd like to offer a list of ideas, should someone in your life be affected by infertility.

1. Please refrain from offering suggestions like: "Just relax/drink/go on vacation... it will happen." This minimizes the medical reality they are facing. Could you imagine saying that to someone diagnosed with cancer? The truth is: infertility is a real condition. It has medical causes. By telling someone to "relax", you are implying it is within their control. Translation: It is their fault.

2. Please don't take it personally when they excuse themselves from child-related events (baby showers for example). It is not a slight against you. It does not mean they wish you ill. Sometimes the gut-wrenching desire to have their own baby (never knowing if they will) becomes unbearable. Sometimes it hurts too much.

3. Please (if you are lucky enough to have your own child) put yourself in their shoes. Look at your own beautiful child and ask yourself: "What if I couldn't have this child? What if I didn't know that I would ever have him/her?" Then magnify that feeling infinitely....

4. Please be patient. The pain of infertility is far-reaching. It is not an injury that happens one day, and then you get over it. It is a re-injury. Month after month. Year after year. Holiday after holiday. The pain can subside and return. Medical intervention can offer renewed hope only to be devastated. Infertility is not something simple.

5. Please don't act like it's a taboo subject. Just like any other painful subject, sometimes the person wants to talk about it. And sometimes they don't. Infertility is no different in that way. If you don't know what to say, that's okay. Sympathy and a listening ear go a long way.

6. Please realize infertility can happen at any time. The questions about "adding number two" can bring about just as much pain. Many times there is an assumption that if you had a biological child you must not suffer from infertility. In reality, infertility can strike even those who have a biological child.

By no means am I an expert in this area. Just someone who feels the pain of my "sisters and brothers in arms". I don't want them to have to add loneliness to the list of pain they feel. As with every loss in life, community support can go a long way toward easing the burden of pain. I have been lucky to be educated by some close friends who suffer infertility, and I wanted to pass along some of what I've learned.

I think it's time to break some silence. Infertility is painful enough without the stigma that surrounds it.

And if you should know someone suffering from infertility who would benefit from counseling, please pass this along to them (or my website in general). I will soon be offering therapy for couples/individuals and groups with an infertility focus.

Wishing that you all would have love and support in your darkest moments,