I don’t watch a ton of TV but I have a new show this year, This is Us. And there was one scene between two of the main characters, a married couple with two kids, that struck me so poignantly.
Randall and Beth were discussing their crazy schedule and how one of their elementary school daughters had a chess tournament that night. Randall said, basically, Can’t make it…I have a work dinner that I have to go to.
And Beth said, without batting an eye, with respect, but with authority, “I call marriage. You’re going to the tournament with us. Sorry but I call marriage.”
And Randall did not go to his work dinner that night.
In my first marriage, I never ‘called marriage’. Okay, that’s not true. I called it to God. I called it in my journal. I called it to my friends. I called it under my breath. I called it while crying on my bathroom floor or as I fell asleep alone or in my car or at AlAnon.
But I never – in a healthy, non-naggy, forthright way – ‘called marriage’ to my first husband.
Until it was too late. I called it when I finally had the strength and backing to call it, but at that point, it would’ve been like telling a smoker in hospice with lung cancer that he’d better cut back on the cigs. Too, too late.
I never told my first husband what I wanted or what I needed. Not really. I mean, I nagged and criticized, sure. But I never said, just clear as day, I need you to stop this and this and this or we won’t make it, our family will deteriorate, our marriage will implode. I never called marriage.
And I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had I tried. Clearly, kindly, respectfully. Holding up the weight and importance and divinity of our marriage as more important than addictions and abuses and arguments.
Who would we have become? Who could we have become?
It’s obviously too late now to do anything about this and I wouldn’t go back even if I could, but it helps me to look back which then makes me see my current, new, now marriage a bit more clearly.
I hold the importance of our partnership up higher, as well as my responsibility to tell the truth, to say the harder things.
Here’s where it gets fuzzy, because I actually talk less now than I did when I was in my 20s and 30s. I don’t have the compulsion I once had to say every single thing I’m thinking and feeling when I’m thinking and feeling it, repeatedly, and with exclamation points.
And I’m working very hard to not criticize or nag my husband, and to let him be the man that God has created him to be, without my incessant tweaking. (Though I do probably say, ‘may I make a gentle suggestion?’ about three or so times a week…but then I try – try is the key word here – to shut up about it.)
With all that said though, I want to be a woman who feels free to ‘call marriage’ in my marriage. To say, okay, let’s think about how this is affecting you or me or both of us or our kids and what this really means, as opposed to just letting things go that maybe shouldn’t be let go.
I haven’t mastered this yet. Heck, I’m not even sure I’ve done this more than a few times over the past two years. But that one line on that one random TV show nudged something in me, reminded me of the gravity of my marriage and of the influence I have not just on my husband’s heart and life but on the health of our sacred union.
So, moving forward, though I may not ‘call marriage’ on a daily basis in literal terms, and though I frankly may not even have to because my husband and I are so gratefully on the same page so much of the time, I will be ‘calling marriage’ in my heart – to myself – every moment of every day of every year for the rest of our lives because it’s not only my responsibility to do so, it’s my honor and privilege.
Do you need to call marriage?
What God has joined together, let no one separate. -Mark 10:9
If this post resonated and you could use some support, email me and I’ll add you to one of my private Facebook group for women who are in a hard marriage, in a restoring marriage or in a remarriage.