My husband and I were sitting in a friend’s living room with three other couples, listening to one explain the current struggles in their marriage. I couldn’t help but think it all sounded quite familiar. Yep, that was us a few years back.
We recently started getting together with three other couples for a small group discussion on the purpose and meaning of marriage. We meet once or twice a month to watch a thirty minute video and then work through discussion questions as a group. My husband and I have learned a lot from the other couples, and it’s so interesting (and oddly reassuring) to me that everyone struggles from time to time.
I have to admit when I first heard about the group a few months ago, I didn’t want to join. Our marriage was in a good place and we were trying to be intentional about how we spent our time. But my husband and I realized a spot in our tight schedule had opened up. Plus, we were excited about the opportunity to get to know the other couples in the group better. So, we I decided to go for it.
Listening to the current struggles of these other couples makes me thankful my husband and I are there to share a similar story and offer a happy ending. If only we’d had a group like this through our darkest days to get inspired and share ideas! I think it would’ve made both of us feel more hopeful about our future together because we would’ve had an opportunity to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But I didn’t always feel this way. When my marriage was on the rocks, I remember feeling really embarrassed and trying to hide everything from even our closest friends and family. Everyone else seemed to be doing fine. I felt like a failure because we weren’t head over heels for each other anymore, and I didn’t want anyone else to know. I didn’t want to participate in husband-bashing, and I didn’t really know how else to tell anyone else about our issues. I was comfortable being vulnerable with others on many levels, but I just couldn’t admit my struggles with my marriage.
I’ve learned through the sessions that if we aren’t disagreeing at least occasionally, we probably aren’t communicating well and growing in our relationship. That’s a far cry from how I entered marriage, thinking that disagreements meant my husband and I were doomed to failure.
Aside from being able to share and help others in the group, it’s really nice to take the opportunity to reflect on how my husband and I have grown closer together over the years. We’ve learned more about what’s important to each other. The conversation during and after the session, when we often reflect on the meeting together, has taken us to a deeper level.
Looking back, we could have really helped others if we’d been able to discuss our problems as they were unfolding in our lives. A close friend recently revealed to me that she and her husband had difficulties similar to our own. We bonded as she and I shared frustrations and our default (often unproductive) methods of dealing with our spouses.
Thankfully, we’ve figured out to share our struggles in a productive way. My husband and I now see the benefits of meeting and sharing our stories with others. And it doesn’t have to be a small group setting like this to be productive and helpful, sometimes just opening up to one close friend can be enough to make life seem brighter. We’re not in this journey alone, and we were never supposed to be.