“You hardly looked at each other all week,” she observed of me and Trevor after six short days of life with us. (It was 2019, and we’d invited her to live with us as long as she needed. She’d finally filed for a year-long restraining order on her husband after thirty-four years of physical, verbal, and mental abuse.) When we opened our home to her, we invited her to freely speak into our lives about whatever she observed in our parenting or our marriage—nothing was off-limits.
Thankfully she wasn’t looking for solitude, and she seamlessly entered the whirlwind of our lives. She arrived on a Sunday with two suitcases, a casserole, green beans, and peanut butter fudge. She sat down to a meal with three others around our table.
- The conversation that day centered around one person’s struggle with the sermon. (How could God be love and at the same time let the wicked perish?)
- A few hours later we rushed out the door to a hymn sing and ice cream social, and when we got home, our new housemate threw our taco bar together while I fed Hudson and put him to bed.
- On her second night with us, we hosted a S’mores Night in our backyard for our neighborhood. Suffice it to say, it was a full week with lots of people in and out of our home.
So when we invited her to speak into our relationship six short days later, she observed, “I hardly saw you look at each other all week.”
Speaking Into Our Marriage
The night before that, Trevor and I had left the boys with her and gone on a date night. We should’ve known things wouldn’t bode well when we left the house without a plan.
It was Friday the thirteenth, and I suggested we go to the graveyard. (I thought it would be fun to tempt others’ superstitions.) As we pulled in, Trevor reversed the car to read the sign in the dark: “No trespassing. 7 a.m.-7 p.m.” That just increased my excitement, but apparently, my husband doesn’t consider breaking rules “fun.” Go figure. And that’s where our date night started to go south—as it often has in the past.
The next night we sat around the table with our new housemate and another friend who is often at our house. We rehearsed our depressing date night and asked them to speak into our lives. For one rare moment, I stopped folding laundry. I stopped washing dishes. I just listened. It was so helpful to hear an outside perspective. (I was inspired after hearing about another couple who fights in front of others and then turns to the person nearest them and asks, “What do you think?”)
Our friends’ input was so helpful. (By the way, I encourage you to invite others into your home. Invite them to speak into your marriage, your parenting, your work—you name it. There’s something about an objective outsider that helps you discover things you just wouldn’t on your own.) I’d love to hear: Have you ever asked someone to speak into your life? How did it go? If you haven’t, would you ever consider doing so? Why or why not?
Time to Look at Each Other Again
Now, nearly two years have passed, and two housemates have come and gone. The most recent one left just five days ago, and suddenly we find ourselves alone again. Just me, Trevor, and our two boys. As wonderful as it has been handing out keys to our home, we find ourselves depressed, weary, and flirting with burn-out.
It’s time for us to recoup. To look at each other.
True, we no longer have the luxury of slipping out to a restaurant (or a graveyard) after dark while the boys are sleeping. But Trevor just invested in a phenomenal fire pit, so we’ve already moved date nights to the backyard. Last night we each took turns sharing how we were doing emotionally, without trying to fix the other. It was so good.
Pray for us, would you? It’s been a long—and rich—season of pouring into others’ needs and learning from them. But we are in need of having our own needs met. Thank you, friend.
Also, if you’re married, remember to take the time to look at each other. To be together. Even if just in your backyard.
Paula (Hendricks) Marsteller is a compassionate Christian communicator.