From a Wal-Mart parking lot at one in the morning, we glanced at each other with tears in our eyes. Sunk into our seats under the burden of wanting to fix each other, my husband and I remained silent for a long time. I was plagued with doubt and uncertainty about our future together and wondering if we had gotten married too young. He was filled with guilt over spending the last 5 years getting a degree he didn’t think he’d be able to use and wondering what he would do with his life now. We sat and talked for a couple hours, daring each other to express the deepest parts of our hearts. I finally promised him I wouldn’t run away and I would do everything I needed to try and fix my uncertainties and he promised to find a way to make a career whether it was with his degree or not. And that night, we grew up as a couple, as we have done since the night before my high school graduation when he asked me to be his girlfriend.
Since last Thursday, Bryan and I have been living out of our car and it has been incredibly stressful. We’ve dealt with car issues, money stresses, our dog being scared of this temporary life we’ve put him in, still going to work during the week, and some unforeseen relationship issues. Our time together has also been a lot of fun. We took a nap in a park with our “guard dog” keeping watch, we spent some time in a coffee shop just talking with nothing else to think about, and we snuck into an undisclosed location like we were high school kids again, laughing the whole time.We’ve stretched ourselves further than I think we even thought we could go and it has brought us a lot closer. It’s funny what spending so much time together can do for a relationship.
I truly believe we need situations like the one Bryan and I are living in now to stretch us. We need to bend and realize we don’t have to break. For us right now, that looks like living out of a car for a week. What it always comes down to no matter what your situation, however, is simplifying your life and breaking down the distractions that hinder intimacy. In relationships specifically, we need to get rid of anything in the way that would cause walls to come up. And in relationships, sometimes that looks like turning off the television, cutting down your workload, and being intentional about budgeting so you have money for experiences together.
When we live a “normal” lifestyle cluttered with all sorts of distractions at home, we are just giving a foothold to things that would get in the way of a great life. We have doubts or fears, but we stuff them inside of ourselves and choose to watch television instead of talking to our partners about it because it seems easier to catch up on Celebrity Apprentice. We are scared we are letting our partner down by not being able to provide enough, so instead of connecting with our partner and finding a solution, we overload our work schedule and spend more time away from the ones we love. It seems more often than not, that we freely choose to disengage and check out with all of the distractions around us because it is just easier. It’s easier than telling our partner we feel let down by them, that we are scared about our future, or that we have some issues we need help working out.
The couples you meet that not only stay together for years and years, but are legitimately happy have done the hard work. They might have distractions around them, but they also log in the time for each other. They check in regularly even just to catch up and talk candidly about life. They set up their lives with each other in mind and they take time for themselves when needed. They slow down life a little bit to enjoy each other and work through the hard stuff that comes up. They turn off the television, unplug the phone, set down the laptop, look into each others’ eyes, and they talk. And they grow up as a couple, whether from their couch or from the front seat of their car in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
**Just a quick note to let all of you amazing readers know that we are going to be traveling for the next two weeks, so I will continue to post, but it might be more infrequent! Thank you so much for the support!