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Craft a Life Together

I wrote a previous blog called "Together They Built a Life They Loved". We had just started our great adventure together. 3 days into our journey as full time RV Travelers I purchased a black board and mounted it in the most prominent place in our little RV home. With great anticipation of taking the journey of our lives together I wrote those sweet, beautiful and delusional words!

You heard me right. I said delusional; characterized by or holding idiosyncratic beliefs or impressions that are contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder: LOL!!!! Yep, that would pretty much describe it. Somewhere along the way I erased the letters "t" and "y" to state that "Together They Built a Life He Loved". (FYI, I erased it before he could see it and be crushed by my cruelty).

Optimism is Replaced by Reality

What I envisioned for a wonderful life of full time RV travel soon faded into a vapor of harsh and cold reality. Two days into our perfectly planned journey across the U.S. from South Carolina to TX we got stuck in Mississippi mud. Our plan to spend one night in an RV park in Mississippi turned south. (No pun intended). As Grady backed into our designated spot he backed up too much and rolled off the end of the concrete pad. Our back wheels dropped off like he had rolled off a cliff. He sank all the way up to the axle. For future reference you should know that Mississippi mud has no bottom. He thought he could stack boards in the mud to jack the RV up enough for the axle to rise above the concrete. Every board sank to the bottomless abyss and he finally called a semi-truck wrecker. I sat in the Jeep with the heater running for 4 hours as they worked to get the rear end out of the mud. Thankfully the damage was minimal! This incident was not a careless or reckless action, but it was avoidable. We didn't work as a team. We didn't communicate about the best spot to park. I didn't park the Jeep and help him back up. He didn't wait for me to assist but proceeded on his own. He didn't ask for help. We drove too long and too late and were too exhausted. The result was Mississippi mud.

Since that time we've learned a lesson or 2, experienced technical difficulties and come head to head on issues that were non-negotiable on both sides.

Facts of Life

The "real life" facts are that:

  • Life is unpredictable and even though you think you understand how to navigate, you might want to put the brakes on and pause long enough to create a plan, make sure both people understand the plan clearly and are working together as a team.

  • 2 people don't always see eye to eye. Inevitably we usually have a different idea about how to do things. I over engineer and over think every detail to the nth degree. I like to talk out the plans until it's crystal clear. I love to enjoy the process of the project and work together as a team. Grady would rather stick sharp pencils in his eyes than to do some of these things. After 44 years our personalities have softened but we are the same people and we are still learning how to adapt to one another's style so we can accomplish our goals and still be happily married. Sometimes we forget to consider each other and then we are still married, but not so happily. I think defining each others method of operation helps tremendously.

  • Well thought out plans sometimes need to shift and change. It happened just today. We were supposed to go somewhere within a certain time frame so I made plans outside of that time frame. The plans shifted and created a domino effect with all the other aligning plans. If this happens too frequently there may need to be evaluation as to why and who is responsible.

  • Take the blame. It's important! When you are at fault, owning the responsibility shows the other person that you understand how important and serious the issue is, even if only to that person. It also shows them that you care and that you care enough to be corrected and hopefully to break the cycle of behavior. Recently I procrastinated making changes to a scheduled stay at an RV park. As a result we had no place to park for a week! I apologized profusely and Grady was very gracious. We prayed together and the Lord helped us to have a lovely place to stay. Grady, on the other hand, translates blame as shame and as a result struggles with owning responsibility. It's been a lifetime of learning that blame is NOT shame and cutting to the heart of peace is the resulting benefit of taking responsibility.

  • Words matter. I speak very matter of factly, which is not always sprinkled with gentleness, therefore my words can knock the feet right out from under a person. It's hard for Grady to take responsibility when my choice of words have put him in self defense mode. Choosing my words carefully, speaking with a gentle spirit when I am agitated and suppressing my words, at times, go a long way toward crafting peace and would be a beautiful adornment to our lives. I'm working on it.

  • Even after 44 years of marriage, conflict can become overwhelmingly hard to navigate. Actually, especially after 44 years of marriage conflict can become overwhelming hard to navigate. One would think we would have figured it out and know how to do this thing called life and marriage. Needless to say, we are better at it than when we first started 44 years ago, but some conflicts just never get easier to resolve, especially between 2 strong willed personalities. I could see why so many couples throw in the towel when they finally realize that nothing is going to change and there remains 2 options. Live in misery or go find peace alone and in solitude. I'm thankful that neither of these will never be an option for us as we work to craft a life together.

  • Issue verses relationship. Most issues are not worth abandoning the relationship. Some issues require that you abandon the relationship. Marital infidelity, physical abuse and verbal abuse are non-negotiable reasons to get to a safe place. Jesus said to live at peace with all men as much as is in your power. Sometimes peace can only come through separation. Too often the only message being promoted through Christian counseling is to fight for your marriage. I firmly believe that marriage is under attack at a greater level than ever in the history of the world and both husbands and wives should fight for their marriage. I also firmly believe that couples can hurt each other beyond comprehension and you have to, at some point, stand your ground and fight for your rights to bring about positive change that is lasting.

  • You can't do this alone. First and foremost you need God. The wise man builds his house on a rock and that rock is a foundation that will withstand every storm. If it were not for the saving grace and mercy of the Lord I'm pretty sure our marriage would not have survived the storms. Also, you may need to tap into the resources provided through Christian counseling. Grady and I have benefitted greatly through counseling which got us through some very tough times that we couldn't navigate alone. My only regret is that we didn't do it sooner.

Are You Building or Crafting?

I figured out somewhere along the way that we are not building a life we love. We are, instead, crafting a life together.

  • To build is; to construct something (typically something large) by putting parts or material together over a period of time.

  • To craft is; an activity involving skill in making things by hand.

Do you see the difference? Preconceived ideas of romance and marriage are like the blueprints for a spec home. The influence of social media, movies and romance novels inspire us to plan for a fantasy relationship may or may not exist.

If you are building a spec house it comes with prefabricated doors, windows, trusses, and sometimes even prefab walls. In theory the pieces should fit together like a puzzle and go together quickly. It usually looks like every other house on the block. All these houses will usually experience the same problems and issues because the same materials and procedures were used to build each and every one exactly the same.

Building a marriage using prefabricated ideology fed to us through external influences becomes nothing more than merged assets, joint bank accounts, shared calendars, blended families, shared living space, coordinated schedules. Living the American dream the same as every other couple living the same American dream with a slight variation thrown in here and there.

When a house is "crafted" it is custom made. Carefully calculated blue prints are designed to accommodate every custom made door and window. Unusual and unique features are carefully planned for and artistically arranged into the design. Color schemes are planned with paint and textiles blended outside of the spectrum of the norm. To craft a custom designed house includes the skills of many artisans working together toward a common goal.

To craft a marriage is the same. It takes skill. It requires the united vision of 2 individuals. It involves careful thought and planning. It requires investments by employing professionals to help along the way with things like counseling. To craft two lives into a marriage requires the purchasing of tools and investment of quality time; books, seminars, retreats. Careful planning, measuring, studying and calculating are required. Large investments are necessary. To craft rather than to build, the effort is greater, the process is longer and the cost goes above and beyond the norm. The product will never be finished and will take a lifetime to complete however, the hopeful outcome will be priceless.

Creating a Facade

Facade • an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality: her flawless public facade masked private despair.

Recently we traveled to a Mexico border town. There was an adorable building on our route to the RV park and I craned my neck to look at it every time we drove by. After a few days I noticed that the adorable building was just a plain normal house with a cute facade. I was no longer impressed.

Lets be hones....Today I dropped my facade and allowed my readers to take a peek into the real lives of Liz and Grady Glover. In doing so I hope that "being real" has encouraged you in some way. In an age of social media where we are posting pictures of a romanticized life with couples posing cheek to cheek you need to know that every person - every couple - lives a real life and has real struggles. We should be there for each other. We should be a little more exposed and a little more real and with the comfort that we have received we should in turn comfort others.

Craft a life together and Go with God.

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