“Now that I’ve done the work to put the boundaries in place to guard my heart, my task is to make sure that I allow love to flow from my heart to my husband.”
Now a Republican Presidential nominee hopeful, Ben Carson made medical history in 1987 as the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins. According to Wikipedia, the twins were conjoined at the back of the head, and Dr. Carson led a 70-member team through 22 hours of surgery to successfully separate them. While I may disagree with his political views, I am in awe of the skill, training, and experience Dr. Carson must have had to be able to accomplish this feat. To even take on such a project is an act of courage, and not all doctors are cut out for the task.
(NOTE to my students: As you know, I do not allow the use of Wikipedia as a primary source, but this is a blog post, not a research paper or persuasive speech so it’s okay this time. You STILL cannot use Wikipedia as a source in my class. :-))
The awe I feel when considering Dr. Carson’s accomplishment is the same awe I feel when I see a couple celebrating 50 years of marriage. I wonder what they’ve experienced, what they’ve learned and what kind of tenacity, resilience, and just plain stubbornness it must have taken for them to get to this point. To take on such a project is an act of courage, and not all couples are cut out for the task. The decision to marry is not one to be taken lightly, as the consequences of mistakes can be fatal—not just for the marriage, but also for the spirits of the individuals involved.
Similar to separating conjoined twins, the joining of two spiritual beings in a marriage is a complicated process, requiring arduous, perpetual, mandatory, and often involuntary, training. The curriculum is the same for everyone, though the lesson plans are different for each individual. The courses are offered on a rotating basis: Live, Love, and Learn; Trial and Error; Fall and Get Up; and the ever popular, Eff It Up and Figure It Out. Most of them are taken simultaneously, and there are daily tests.
I have been in a relationship with my husband for over 20 years. He is not just my high school sweetheart and my first love: he’s also my best friend and the one who knows me better than anyone else in the world, not including myself. I believe he would say the same is true in the reverse. Truthfully, until fairly recently, I probably knew him better than I knew myself, and he probably knew me better than I knew myself, too. After going through several years of turmoil and intermittent separations—the classic “break up to make up” story—we have made a decision to give it another try.
During the time when we were separated, I decided to take the Fat Joe Approach and “lean back.” I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and tired of working on us: it was time to work on me. I began to focus on figuring me out, and left the “figuring out” of my husband to God. In many ways and for many reasons, I leaned back. Having now decided to recommit to the marriage, my challenge in this season is to lean back in. (This sounds like a teaser for the season premiere of a TV show: In this season, Kiana learns how to lean in to her marriage, while balancing her passion and purpose. Will she be able to do it? Stay tuned and find out in the premiere of “Wise Woman Building.” LOL)
In addition to re-establishing trust, I also have to allow myself to be vulnerable and open. It will take time to heal old wounds and mend what has been broken, just as it took time to do the damage. It will also require my effort to empower my husband and encourage his efforts by working out the kinks in my end of the chain. I have made mistakes, I have shortcomings and there are opportunities for improvement to step up my “wife game”.
Recommitting to my marriage means taking ownership of the baggage I bring to it. It also means making the transition from only being willing to receive to also being willing to reciprocate. Being more secure in who I am, what my purpose is, and what I want to experience in life is helping me to set healthy boundaries for myself and those around me. Proverbs 4:23 reminds me to “Above all else, guard (my) heart, for everything (I) do flows from it.” Now that I’ve done the work to put the boundaries in place to guard my heart, my task is to make sure that I allow love to flow from my heart to my husband.
It’s not hard to find examples of women who have gotten divorced and been able to create wonderful new lives for themselves. Any number of articles and books provide advice for women to take back their lives after a divorce or heartbreak. Ironically, while most will agree that it’s harder to stay in a marriage and try to make it work than it is to walk away from one that isn’t working, there are fewer articles related to the concept of the woman rebuilding herself as she is also working to rebuild her marriage. Society seems to be much more supportive of the independent, strong Black woman than the independent yet interdependent, strong yet vulnerable Black wife. (I am grateful for social media communities such as the Anointed Wives Ministry, Marriage Works!, Just 4 Wives and Wife Kouture, that are offering support and encouragement to those of us who want to stay married.)
I do not know what the future holds for my marriage, but as the old school gospel song declares, I know I’ve been changed. I know that I have the confidence to move forward, lean in and love again. Most importantly, I know that no matter what happens, as I continue to learn, grow, and do my part, I will have the love I deserve and be able to give love back in return. Now excuse me while I go figure out something nice to do for my husband! 🙂
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