By Jordan Langdon
It’s off season in San Diego; specifically on Coronado Island. My husband and I are thrilled to be on vacation, sans kids, but you’d never know it. We arrive at the airport and are barely speaking to each other. I am thinking about all the things I did to prepare for this getaway and whether or not I forgot to give grandma some special instructions for one of the kids so she has everything she needs for a successful 5 days of babysitting.
My husband is still...and quiet. He does his typical travel tasks of picking up suitcases at baggage claim, showing us to the line we need to be in for the rental car and maps out precisely how to get to the hotel we’re settling into for the next 4 nights.
Does it happen to you, too? You know, when you have a trip on your calendar for months, yet you don’t plan what you’re going to do until the day you get there? Insert panic here! We settle into the hotel and I’m thinking “we have 5 days in this beautiful place, without kids, and absolutely NO clue how we’re going to spend it! Who does this?”
Having nothing planned, we did what anyone would do if they were staying across the street from a beautiful white sand beach. Go to the beach! The waves roll in. My husband and I stood in the sand gazing at the water. Time stood still for those moments. My busy mom mind was racing with thoughts like these “Where will we eat for dinner? How will we pack it all in, to be sure we aren’t wasting any of this precious time together? It’ll probably be ages until we go on vacation again, with no distractions.” The waves roll out.
As I focused my eyes on the water and tried like heck to tune into the sound of this amazing basin of blue, I allowed my thoughts to settle into the sand and be buried, one by one. I was able to hear the dull roar of the ocean which sounded like rolling thunder, on repeat. I watched as the waves rolled in and back out again. My mind was quiet.
There was a cold distance between my husband and I as we stared off into the ocean. Our busy lives had caught up with us and our married life was on the back burner. There we stood, separated by unresolved differences, swallowed up resentments and feelings of loneliness. Together, on a beautiful white sand beach, with a pit in our stomachs.
A thought floated across my mind. As I watched the ocean breathe in and out….it dawned on me! The ocean resembles life! It resembles marriage.
My husband and I tried, on multiple occasions, to talk through what it was that was gnawing at each of us, stealing our joy. No luck! Every conversation ended up in a stand still, with each of us begging the other to be heard.
The waves rolled in….and back out again.
We knew we weren’t going to enjoy this beautiful island if we kept getting stuck in the moss of our conversations, so we decided to go out for the day and press pause on our relationship hurts. We committed to soak in the sights and sounds, intentionally focusing on the present. As each of us shared with the other what we were noticing, the distance quickly faded away. By lunch time, we were connected again, sharing thoughts and feelings about our kids and even dreams for our future.
You see, for us, marriage is like the ocean. Some days the waves are big! Too big to surf on. We might not even recognize these big waves, in the busyness of family life and work. One of us might be sinking and the other doesn’t even notice. Other days the waves are steady and smooth, rolling up and back….up and back.
So, how do you survive the ocean? You hold on, during the big waves. You remember the big waves don’t stay big, for long. You push pause and look for seashells among the moss. You realize, over time, the water changes the way the sand looks...for better or worse.
As the waves roll in, we cling to what we know is true. Marriage isn’t always smooth and steady. But if we allow ourselves to clear our minds of the daily clutter and busyness and focus on the smell of the ocean air, the sound of the waves and the feeling of being safely anchored together, we will rise above the 10 ft waves.
Make time to see what the waves are like that wash over your spouse. Carefully listen for the things they are missing and needing, in your marriage. Soften up and let them in. It’s worth it.