“You’re not done yet.” This is what I’ve been telling myself lately. We’re very close to moving into a new home, and I’m sure some of you are tired of hearing this continuing saga. I’m with you. I’m tired of living it. Still, this experience keeps teaching me things about about marriage…especially this week.
So far, we’ve been through:
- Getting the house ready to put on the market.
- Putting the house on the market.
- Keeping the house neat and clean so it could be shown at any time.
- Negotiating and settling on a contract on our house.
- Going through the home inspection and making all the necessary repairs.
- Negotiating with the builder on changes we want to the new house.
Now we’re just waiting for the closing date. Actually, I wish that’s all we were doing. I thought once all the big stuff was out of the way, we could casually coast to closing. But it turns out, We’ve got to keep working. There is still a ton of little things to be done before closing. There are utilities to transfer, trucks to schedule, people to line up, boxes to pack, and other things I haven’t even thought of yet.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful to be moving to a new home. I’m just saying the work doesn’t end.
And there you have it. Another lesson I’ve learned about marriage. What I’ve learned about marriage from buying a house is that you may have the big stuff out of the way, but you’re still not there. You must continue working toward a better place.
Maybe you have already faced some big things in your marriage. Things like: job loss, serious illness, infertility, a prodigal child, family dysfunction, infidelity, the loss of a child, bankruptcy, etc. These big things are incredibly difficult and should not be minimized.
But it’s natural to rise up and meet the big things in marriage. After all, the big things are there in your face. They’re dramatic. They’re threatening. They’re looming. Who wouldn’t rise up to face that kind of thing.
What’s not so natural is continuing to work at your marriage when there are no big things facing you. When the big things have passed, our tendency is to kick back and relax. But this is when you need to be even more mindful of working at your marriage. I often tell couples, “It’s typically not the great white sharks that swallow a marriage whole. You can see that fin coming at you and you respond appropriately. The problem in marriage is not the great white sharks that swallow you, but rather all the small unnoticed guppies that nibble you to death.”
When it comes to your marriage, you may not be fighting great white sharks at the moment, but that doesn’t mean your work is done. There are still little things…guppies…that need your attention. Here are some of mine:
- Not saying “Thank You” enough.
- Pouting or complaining when I don’t get my way.
- Not giving enough compliments.
- Expecting her to read my mind when I want something.
- Withdrawing when I’m upset about something.
- Not really listening.
- Retreating to my electronics.
- Not helping around the house as I should.
- Not being intentional and regular in planning dates (even though we’re empty-nesters.)
- Leaving dirty dishes in the sink, rather than putting them in the dishwasher so she doesn’t have to.
I could go on, but you get the idea. The point is, just because the big stuff has passed doesn’t mean the work is over. There’s still work to do to get to the place you want to be.
Try making your own “guppy list.” Then pick one or two guppies to work on. The results may surprise you.
Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg