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Don’t marry a man whose words don’t hold weight. Because, one day, you’ll stand at the altar, and promise each other “In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer,” and you’ll promise the rest of your lives to each other, to love each other, serve each other, be served, and work as a team against all that life throws at you.

If a man speaks words that don’t hold any weight now, he may not mean it when he stands at the altar and promises to love and cherish you forever. I was talking to my mom about all this the other day. She said she had many marriage proposals, she was just made some very good choices (which is why she’s married to my dad. He’s a great man).

In many ways, I feel like I’m in my mom’s shoes in this season of my life. I haven’t had marriage proposals, per se, but sometimes I feel like I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard the: “You are God’s gift to me,” “I’m lucky to have you,” “All the days,” “I love you with all of my heart,” “When we’re married.” Multiple guys have said these things to me, no joke.

And, like the trusting romantic I am, I believed them. I also had a hard time believing them when they told me, “I just don’t feel that way about you anymore.” Or: “I meant them when I said them.” Good Lord! If you love someone, it will last a lifetime! If you are not capable of following up on your words, then, darn it, keep them to yourselves and just keep your mouth shut.

You know why my parents have lasted? Because they had Jesus (Dad says they may not have made it if they hadn’t had Jesus. Apparently, I didn’t know until I was out on a walk the other day with my dad, and asked him, the early years of their marriage were super hard).

Here’s what my parents’ marriage looks like:

They play cribbage together. Do you know why? Because Mom absolutely loves games like that (including card games. Heavens, if they want to playfully bug me, they ask: “Hey Arielle, want to play Spades?” I hate Spades. Yeesh). They love spending time together.

Dad leaves chocolate and sticky notes with Bible verses and love-talk out for my mom in the mornings. Growing up, he left sticky notes for my brother and I as well. I still have all those sticky notes saved. They meant a lot to me. Dad buys Mom roses. Dad helps Mom with gardening. Dad and Mom go for walks down at the beach. Etc. etc. etc.

They get in disagreements. Mom is strong-willed to a fault (and I am too. We butt heads a lot sometimes). She has a very clear idea of how projects should go, so… they usually do the projects the way Mom wants, though Dad grumbles about it. They give me headaches sometimes with their disagreements. Especially when we were moving from our old house to the house we’re at now. It drove me batty. But I know that, in the middle of their disagreements, they love each other and it never threatens their marriage.

I’m scared of that, honestly. The disagreements part. My first “guy friend” (basically, I was a girlfriend but without that commitment) and I disagreed a lot. He hated being friends with me because of it, and I was always scared to death he’d stop being friends with me because of it. I have a heavy fear of abandonment. Guys never like me long-term. Sure, they like me when I’m cheerful and fun to be around. But as soon as I’m a challenge to be around, they throw me out. That’s not love. But those experiences have heavily impacted my emotional life and health. I have a terrible fear when it comes to those things.

You see, I don’t like being pushed around. The main things that guy friend and I disagreed about were the sappy things. It messed with my heart when he talked marriage indirectly with me, or his future stuff, or wrote me love poetry for me “to read.” It upset me, and I told him so. And he never respected that. He just kept doing the same old things over and over and over. He liked being liked by me, but he didn’t want any form of commitment. When it came down to it, he prayed and thought about it, and told me I wasn’t the one for him (and then texted me about two weeks later telling me he missed me. Yeah, that conversation didn’t go down well. To say I was ticked at him is putting it mildly).

Yeah, that’s the emotional baggage I have. That, and a million other things. I hate the idea of kissing now. I distrust when a guy wants to get close to my physically. I fear running into yet another guy who is controlling. I fear running into more guys who are verbally not nice to me. I fear being cast out by their families. I fear being judged. I fear infatuation. I fear being the spiritual leader of my family. I fear that a guy will take away my life from me–my desire to be a stay-at-home, my love of writing, my dance teaching, my home. I fear that because that’s what I’ve run into so far. These are my emotional scars, these are my fears, I give them, God, to You.

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