Sharing from the Heart

One thing that amazes me with marriage is how hard it can be to share your heart. This is meant to be the safest place - the closest relationship ever - and yet couples everywhere struggle to share deeply from the heart, starting even at engagement.

We had a great summer in many ways (see last post). I'm thankful for all that we implemented to be intentional about our core relationships. One thing that being intentional can do is make you realize that you'd love to be further along than you are.

Unity Sand from a recent
wedding I officiated.
Perhaps this is why we can tend to find it hard to truly share our hearts in marriage. We've tried to and it hasn't gone like we thought it would. It's not like we really give up either. We try different things, but slowly move toward accepting what we think the reality is: that we are not going to experience what we hoped we would.

Before we were even dating, I remember watching a lunar eclipse with my wife. For some reason the song, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" came up. I boasted that I could see into her heart anytime I wanted. 18 years later we are still trying to get beyond some of our eclipses.

Don't get me wrong - we have shared deeply from our hearts and have experienced each other's innermost feelings. We have loved and expressed that love in wonderful ways. We have also had three kids, vocational changes and family stresses which have taken their toll. So what are we to do to go further, to continue exploring?

1. We need to be open to what we have.
What we have now and what we will have is going to be different from what we had. Yes, there are some past hurts and challenges that may need to be addressed, but we need to move forward. We also cannot expect the same experiences, we can only receive what is present and is to come.

2. It's important to do our own work.
We are both finding out more and more about ourselves as individuals. Realizing why we respond the way we do and seeking to change. I need to forget about changing the other, let marriage do its work on me and become a better person. Often it's our own insecurity that keeps us from opening up.

3. Examine our expectations.
A favorite marriage preparation question I use is: do you expect that your marriage will sometimes be disappointing and frustrating?
The younger the couple the more they disagree. With maturity we understand that every relationship, including marriage will be disappointing and frustrating. Mainly because we have unrealistic expectations that need to come into line with reality. But that doesn't mean we need to lose hope. With realistic expectations, marriage can grow into a relationship that is truly satisfying.

4.  Risk, again and again.
It's worth it. Remember that the other is learning too. Open up and share. Be honest. Get a list of emotions and figure out what I'm feeling and tell my spouse. Model what it means to listen when she speaks.

5. Realize this is what is at the heart of most of our conflicts.
The reason we have conflict with our partners is because of the disconnect between the two of us. The angst we have because of the disconnect is usually a much bigger deal than the issue currently being discussed. Sometimes we think if we can just solve the issue we'll be okay. The reality is that we need to move toward opening up, sharing and listening to each other's hearts, and then the issues we conflict over will come into proper perspective.

Even though we know where we want to go, the map is not always so clear.
We're still figuring this out.
These hearts - they are so complex.