Most people are over-worked physically and under-nourished emotionally. Marriages suffer in that environment, deprived of the quality time and attention needed to go the distance. Wives and husbands who are committed to making their love last have to work hard to find unpressured time together.
My marriage partner has been gone for 2 years, and for many months I’ve had trouble ending each day. I’ve stayed up past 3:00 or 4:00 AM repeatedly, reluctant to climb the stairs and go to bed. This seems extreme, and I’m not sure of the reason. The short answer is that I don’t like sleeping alone. But that isn’t completely true. Although having two in a bed brings security, comfort, and love, I think there’s something else bothering me.
Married couples who love each other have something special waiting for them at the end of each day. After going separate ways from dawn to dusk chasing different pursuits, they finally put their children to bed, set aside their worries, and meet behind closed doors. The bedroom becomes a type of sanctuary.
There they can talk and listen to each other, commiserate with the stresses of the day, laugh a little, maybe spend time reading side-by-side or share a bowl of popcorn on the bed. Late at night the phone doesn’t ring, the children don’t interrupt (usually), and revitalizing sleep is just around the corner. Both can take a deep breath followed by a long, feel-good sigh. The day is almost over.
And I think that’s my problem. My husband-wife sanctuary time is gone.
Nate’s last couple of years were dominated by back pain that demanded he lie down earlier and earlier, and I stayed up late to manage two high schoolers. But once we knew he had cancer, we immediately reestablished our sanctuary time. He still eased himself onto the bed early, but I climbed in then, too. Despite the house being full of people, Nate and I had those last precious moments of every day to ourselves before he would drift into sleep. And it was then we talked about the challenge at hand: terminal cancer.
But that wasn’t all. We also talked about our past lives, how we met, our marriage, the children, unnumbered blessings, unmet goals, God’s choices for us, and the “what-ifs” of the future, both his and mine. It was a painful time but was also laced with sweet declarations of love and some very potent promises.
I know my current struggle to climb the stairs and end each day will eventually mitigate. Meanwhile, as I put one foot in front of the other, I try to remind myself the Lord goes up the steps with me, offering his love and potent promises along with a willingness to be the other half of the last conversation of every day.
And when dawn arrives and I get to head down the steps again, he goes with me then, too.
“The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” (Psalm 145:13)