Don't Screw It Up

September 04, 2017

I was sitting here at my computer trying to think of how to blog for this Marriage Monday, realizing Monday is almost over and I had deleted my blog post three times.  So, my screen was blank when my husband walked in, offered me a drink and asked what I was blogging about.  When I responded, "marriage," his response was so perfectly him, "Well, don't screw it up."  We had a good laugh about it but then a light bulb clicked on, and not just our neighbor's motion sensor light on their garage that I swear can detect squirrels.
How often do we repeat that to ourselves when we are trying really hard to get something right?  It goes through our heads in job interviews, work performance, first dates, first days of school, art projects and sidewalk paving.  Right now my husband is building his first ever guitar and the script he hears again and again is, "don't screw it up."  But what if he did?  What if his first guitar was near unplayable?  What if he built it and the greatest luthiers (guitar builders) in the world told him to go back and try again?  What if all of those things hurt his head and his heart and his ego?

You all know the answer to this.  If at first you don't succeed... skydiving is not for you.  I mean try try again.

So, why don't we give ourselves that kind of grace and resilience in our attitudes toward marriage?  In my humble opinion, one of the greatest things about marriage is the vow to try try again.  That's what "for better or worse" is about.

In a world full of instant gratification marriage is the antidote to short-sighted living.  Marriage is the work of taking the worse and promising to try for better tomorrow.  It is seeing your partner fall and instead of pointing out what they could have done to stay standing, kneeling beside them, offering them your hand and picking them up when the come undone.  And the beauty of it is, that pattern of grace and kindness and failure and gratitude is both cyclical and reciprocal.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give when it comes to the expectations of your marriage is this: Expect failure, but don't anticipate it.

Let me explain.

You will fail.  Your spouse will fail.  Those things are inevitable.  But if you wait around anticipating their failure you will never see or appreciate their successes.  You won't see growth if all you can see are the possibility of set-backs.  If every moment you are looking for a shortcoming, when you find one the sheer anticipation of it will make it seem a thousand times bigger than it really it.  That's why we have phrases like "wracked with anticipation" or "the anticipation is killing me."  It's because at the heart of over-anticipation is anxiety and if the possibility of failure leaves you riddled with anxiety it will never allow your relationship to breathe enough for the life-giving truths of love to make their way through.
When you know failure will come but you remain present until the inevitable, you can approach the situation with grace and forgiveness as opposed to defensiveness and ultimatums.  And then you wake up the next day, or the next week or the next month realizing that there is no fear in "screwing it up" as long as you both faithfully return to a pattern of patience, kindness, grace and reconciliation.

There is no substitute for the hard work, but it's oh so worth it.  Try, try again. (Except skydiving, I was serious about that)

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