Tomorrow is Wedding Day. At some point around 2:15 p.m., I’ll give the hand of our youngest daughter, Natasha, to her Prince Kory. (Note: I’ve been writing the Wedding Countdown at night, so by the time it’s posted for everyone or by the time most people read it, the calendar has already turned a page, so the tomorrow I’m talking about is Saturday, Sept. 7).
The countdown as featured my advice on “How to Wreck Your Marriage,” rather than giving insight on how to live in bliss happily-ever-after. The 15 wrecking balls that I’ve presented were warnings. And, to some degree, I’ve used all 15 wrecking balls myself during 31 years and counting with my Princess Kelly.
So I speak with authority. That’s a confession, not a boast.
If you’ve ever wrecked a car, you know it’s possible to not only survive the crash, but to also fix the car. Unlike repairing a wrecked car, though, repairing a wrecked marriage can result in an even better marriage. It’s not likely that the car you picked up from the body shop was actually better than it was even before the crash.
Wrecking a marriage can be a solo venture, and it can be done in one fell swoop or, more likely, in several whacks of the wrecking ball. But the repair and restoration is not a solo effort. It requires a team of people who have experienced and can offer grace, while creating an atmosphere of accountability and transparency. You’ll find those people when you seek them, and you’ll be amazed at how available they are when you’re ready stop trying to save face in order to save your marriage.
The truth is, it’s not all that hard to wreck a marriage. The same cannot be said for restoration.
It’s hard work. And you start by owning your part and taking responsibility without blaming your spouse – or your parents for not modeling what it means to love unconditionally and love with grace even when it’s not returned. It’s my guess that no one has shown you how to un-wreck your most precious relationship and most of us have seen in our family of origin or someone close to us that a lot of people simply quit and give up on each other. Or we witnessed one or both parents wailing away with those wrecking balls for years until there was simply nothing left.
We’re overwhelmed, it seems, by examples like that, rather than stories of those who successfully repaired and restored the wreckage.
We use a wrecking ball, whether deliberately or passively, because we want something different: my spouse should change, my circumstances should be difference, my in-laws aren’t what I expected or need, my life should be more interesting or exciting. But when the wreck happens and it looks like you’re reaching the point of no return, start the restoration by considering this reality: Is this what you wanted? If you can say, “I finally got what I wanted,” and that “want” was a mistress, a submissive spouse (he/she is so broken and beaten down that you win) or some twisted sense of respect, is that really what you wanted?
More questions. Are you prepared to do anything to restore the wreck? Are you willing to take your spouse’s hand, open your heart, confess your failures, and get on your knees – with your spouse – and humbly ask your Creator to flood light into the brokenness of your life and marriage? Are you willing – as that first husband wasn’t – to stand and speak against the Enemy, and to fight your own demons to recapture the heart of your Princess?
If you say “no” to any of those questions, ask yourself again. And again. Remember your marriage before the wreck and what it was like to have won your bride’s heart the first time.
Wait a minute. You’re telling me that she’s no longer that fresh-faced, sparkling-eyed girl you married? She’s not the same person?
Really? You don’t think you had something to do with that? And are you the same charming, sweep-her-off-her-feet knight in shining armor?
Restoring the wreck will mean finding and knowing your spouse’s heart – perhaps for the first time. The honesty, time and emotion that it takes is demanding. I know it. It probably also means letting your spouse know – maybe for the first time – how you really feel and what you fear.
What do you want? And how will the rest of your life without him/her look?
Remember my story about looking out over a dark, stagnant lake the night before Kelly and I were married? I realized – just knew it – that life without her would be like that. Empty.
I’ve pushed my marriage to the edge of the cliff a few times. Once it seemed to tumble right over into the abyss, but a circle of grace – friends who were not going to let us crash – intervened and shined light into my heart. Yes, it’s humiliating to allow so many others to “get into your business,” and the road to restoration is a bumpy, uncertain, painful ride. But the heart of your princess awaits.
The alternative? For me it was the stark reality that what I had envisioned on wedding eve, June 4, 1982, could come true if I simply answered, “Yes, this is what I want.”
Instead, what I want is to be married to my best friend, to show her my heart and to experience this adventure of life, faith and love side-by-side. There is no alternative to consider.
THIS is what I want.
In honor of Groom Kory and Bride Natasha, here’s Ol’ Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra with “Come Rain or Come Shine.”