Imagine if you will that dating is sitting or standing on a dock with someone that you are wanting to get to know. You talk for a bit but you realize that this person is actually not really someone you want to spend any long amount of time with so you kindly (KINDLY) say thank you for the talk and you leave the dock, or they thank you and they leave the dock. Then you come back to the dock with someone else, you spend more time on the dock this time, you see something in them that you really like, they see something in you that they really like, and one day while you are sitting on the dock the person you are sitting with asks you if you would like to go for a trip on their boat. You agree, and you both excitedly start planning for an amazing trip together. You spend hours planning what to pack, who to invite to your ‘bon voyage’ party, you talk with the person from the dock that you are going on the trip with about all the things you will see along the way and you are happy, really happy.
On the day of your departure for the trip you get all dressed up and ready for the bon voyage, your family and friends meet you at the dock there’s champagne and cake and then the person you have chosen to go on this journey with is standing with one foot on the boat and one on the dock and he is reaching out his hand to you to help you up. You take his hand and as you step onto the boat you turn to wave at the friends and family who are waving goodbye. You set the course of the boat and off into the sunset you go, smiling, excited, happy, really happy.
The first few days are beautiful weather, the sun is shining, the breeze is cooling, the air smells like the salty sea and the sound of the gulls lulls you. You have plenty of food, plenty of water, you are with the person you enjoy most in the world so you are having so much fun and still planning for the first destination. You are happy, really happy.
After a few weeks at sea you begin to notice that the person you are with snores every night, you are more tired than before, they eat loudly, you find yourself annoyed, they say this annoying thing that used to be cute but now it just gets under your skin, but they are still your favourite person and for the most part you still have so much fun together. You are happy, still happy.
Then one night a storm blows up, the waves are huge and the vessel you are on it pitching in the waves. You are scared and you can see that your person is scared too but they are trying to calm you, trying to tell you that everything is okay. You feel safe and you realize that what you felt before was a deep like for that person but now, now you feel a deep love that that seems to ground you. You are scared, but still happy.
As you navigate the storm, both busy on keeping the boat upright you argue, you fight, your fears speak with hurtful words, you think you could do things better, they think they can manage without input. You fight, you feel alone. In your lonliness you are not feeling happy, not at all happy.
As the storm breaks you find yourselves completey off course, lost at sea, much less water and food for survival, further apart from your favorite person than you were when you met. The words spoken in anger linger between you, trust has been broken, loneliness has come between you. You stare out at sea and there is nothing but sky and water. You are stuck, with your person. You are not happy, not happy at all.
As the silence streches out between you, with breaks for a bitter argument you sit on the edge of the boat, wishing you had never started this trip with this person. Surely there was someone else would have been more fun, more in keeping with who you would want to take a trip with. You stare at the water and you know that you are on this boat together, for better or worse, you can’t jump or you will drown. Instead you turn, and when you turn you see the face of your person. You remember all those mean words, the hurtful things they have done, you remember the pain of the words as they sliced you, you remember the snoring, the annoying way they do things and then you look deeper into your persons face and you see them, the real them, the one from the storm that had been so scared but trying to keep calm for you, the person who could make you laugh and love, the person you chose to step onto this boat with. They are the same people. You feel something, not happy but a sort of crumbling.
You realize that you are annoying, you do and say things that cut deeply too, you can lash a tongue better than most and if you look closely at your person you can see the scars and this hurts you, because you love them. You move closer, you touch their arm, trace your fingers over the scars and you ask for forgiveness and you offer forgiveness and you move to an embrace that makes the loneliness leave, you are safe, you are happy.
It goes this way, the ebbs and flows, just as the waves move your boat ever closer to the other side your relationship also moves and sways with dips and highs that only ever get deeper, more and more full of a love you hadn’t thought you would even be capable of. This person you set out on this journey with is your family now, the love has grown not through the easy times but in the darkest of storms, the worst of the waves, it moved through all of those things for two reasons, forgiveness and you didn’t decide to jump off the boat. You stay, because jumping off the boat isn’t an option. You stay because when you turn and really honestly look at your person you see the scars that you have left too, it’s not just what has happened to you, it’s what you have done to them. This person has seen you at your worst, and they have loved you, and they have forgiven you, and you have seen them at their worst and found a way to forgive them and one day you look at your scars and you don’t remember the pain, the words that cut you, your remember the forgiving embrace that came after.
Marriage is the boat obviously. Somehow we have stopped viewing it that way, we think we and our person are on the dock still, that when things get hard we can just walk away but we are in the boat. We all want to blame the other person for the hurts or the wrongs or the problems but sometimes what is really required is a good look at ourselves, a humbleness that is hard but can lead to a wonderful place of love and healing that blends you together more than any happy moment ever could.
Covid has been a storm, no doubt that it has brought so many people to a place where they are sitting on the edge of the boat thinking about jumping into the water and giving a good swim a try, I have seen those who have actually jumped in, and it breaks my heart to know that they aren’t on the dock, they are in dangerous water, drowning isn’t out of the realm of possibility and the person they swam from is just as scarred and hurt as they are and if only, if only there could be forgiveness, humbled self evaluation they could still be on the boat together, fighting the storms together, moving closer and closer towards their end goal.
Somewhere along the way we have forgotten that when we marry someone, choose to say yes, (or ask) we take their hand and step out onto the boat and become ONE. No one (other than Disney and Hallmark) every said that that was the end of the story, that’s the start! That is where life gets fun, navigating this crazy ocean with your person, making other little people, becoming a family, learning to be more and more humble, not harder and harder from scar tissue. My kids hate the song ‘Let it go” (as do I if I am honest) but in this case I think sometimes you have to just ‘let it go’ be the first to step our and touch the scars on the heart of your person, scars that your words, your doubts, your insecurities , your fears have left behind, step our first and kiss the scars with an ask of forgiveness and wait for the healing to begin, it might take time but it can happen.
for the many people in my life who are struggling right now to stay in the boat