This wasn't on the brochure... When my wife and I got married in 2008, we were warned by everyone and their mother, especially my wife's mother, that the first year of marriage is challenging. Everyone pointed to the adjustment phase. Our first year of marriage was easy. We loved it. We entered into year two, thinking that we must just be better at this than everyone else. We had arguments over finances and schedules like everyone else, but we genuinely liked each other.
Then at year five, we had our first child. Again everyone told us how hard marriage is when there's a pregnancy. We made it through with barely a scratch. We lost sleep and grew frustrated, but we thought we were communicating well enough. Little pieces of frustration here and there but nothing we couldn't handle.
But our story turns at year seven. The dreaded year seven. We just had our second child, which no one tells you that it isn't only twice as hard having a second child, it's 10 times harder. It's not even close. The constant neediness from a youngling who isn't the baby, and the lack of sleep leads to stress overload.
We hit rock bottom. We weren't communicating or loving, nor did we even like each other. Every conversation was a struggle, and we found the end of our rope.
Our one saving grace was a deep-seated commitment never to get divorced, but that can only last so long.
That's when we found mentors. These dear people took us in at our darkest times and gave us hope. It was a bit like counseling at first, but then it turned into sharing life experiences. I won't speak for my wife, but for me, I found that many of the problems we were having in our marriage were only symptoms of a more significant issue. They were the symptoms of my desire to stuff my emotions and turn them into resentments while pretending that I was fine.
The care I received gave me a safe place to share my thoughts and feelings without fear of conflict. But also the accountability and challenge to be a better husband. I use to think it was my responsibility to make my wife happy and meet all of her needs. In reality, my responsibility is to me. I need to communicate my needs to my wife instead of waiting for her to figure it out. Mentoring didn't just tell me what to do, it showed me.
We are now coming to the end of year 11 stronger and more joyful than ever. We communicate more clearly, still a work in progress, and have endured incredible challenges as a team and I give our mentors all the credit. Because of their guidance and example, we have the confidence and courage to engage in stressful situations, and we do it together.
I do wish we would have been in a mentoring relationship before we hit the hard times because we would have been better prepared. This is why I am so excited for the marriage mentoring program at Bridgeway. No matter what season any marriage is in, mentoring can be the catalyst for it to thrive.