Have you ever been driving on a highway for several miles before it hits you that you are going in the complete wrong direction? Freeways and highways can be confusing, especially when you live in the desert like Arizona and there are no mountains to give you bearing, like the mountains of your youth as you lived in Utah. Perhaps you too live in a place where if you don’t have your freeways well-learned, you can easily become lost in thought and find you are travelling somewhere you never intended to go.
I am no expert, but Marriage is a freeway.
It is full of twists and turns, roads without signs, unexpected potholes, confusing and misleading bends that have you all turned around, and quite simply….if you’re not paying very close attention, the direction you’re headed will often lead you somewhere you don’t want to go at all.
This is my story.
This is my personal journey. It may not resonate with all who read it, but I hope that for some there is a truth and that my experience written here may benefit someone who is lost on a high-speed freeway and needs a little direction back.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We are nicknamed Mormon or referred to as LDS. Any way you spin it, I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and His teachings. I believe Christ is my Savior and that by Him and through Him we can be saved and return to live with God. Plain and simple. So if you are reading this story and you aren’t LDS but you are Christian, then I believe this will resonate with you also. If you are reading this and are NOT Christian, perhaps my story will provide a little outside perspective and pique your interest into Christianity. In the end, I wish to offer hope in marriages that may have gotten a little off-course.
I married at 25. I had finished an 18 month mission in Russia for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I had graduated from the University of Utah at age 24 with a degree in Russian. I was headstrong and knew what I wanted. I was of the mindset that you could create your own future if you really wanted it. But I couldn’t find Mr. Right. Though I had imagined him in my mind over and over and had in fact created my perfect little future, he simply didn’t want to appear when I wanted him.
And then magically we met, fell in love, and married. It was a dream come true.
Why I didn’t learn back then that life typically will never go the way we want it to, is a mystery to me. Happily married as a newly-wed, the life I had dreamed was finally happening. A handsome husband who loved me. Someone to come home to every night. No more dating. No more searching. Just the happily ever after I had once dreamed of.
But God had chosen my husband for big things. Very early on in our marriage, my sweet husband was called upon to serve in callings within the Church (unpaid ministry) that would rob us of time together. Many times he was gone for long periods of time at meetings, activities, and sometimes even trips away from our tiny little family. The picture I had had of raising a family included a family sitting together in church, little children on our laps. This was not the reality I was given. Instead my husband often had callings that would put him on the stand (up in front of the congregation) where we could see him but had no access to him. Month after month, and year after year, I supported him and accepted each new challenge.
What did I have to NOT be grateful for. I had a husband that was loving of God, who served Him with everything that he had. He was absolutely the greatest follower of Christ and had become his servant. How could I oppose? I simply could do nothing but stand up, salute, and honor his efforts. And I did.
But you know what? I was travelling in the wrong direction. We’re talking miles and miles and miles off-course.
We live in a world where strong women are heralded as heroic and epic and life changing.
Susan G. Komen leading the race for a cure against breast cancer. Fight! Fight! Fight!
Liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fighting for women’s rights. Fight! Fight! Fight!
Hillary Rodham Clinton—lawyer, first lady, and presidential candidate. Fight! Fight! Fight!
Look at it. Look into it. There are more. Hundreds in history.
In each example, I dare you to find a woman that’s stopping and asking for directions on her twisty turny highway of marriage. NO. You won’t find it. Because strong women are hailed as courageous and life changing. Weak women are looked at with disdain and disappointment. Who wants a needy woman? Who wants someone who needs help? Everyone wants a strong woman including the woman herself.
And I fell into this trap. I am by no means liberal, but I wanted so badly to be strong. I wanted so badly to be a strength and a right arm to my husband. “I’ve got this!”, “No worries.”, “It’s all good here.”, “I can do that.”, “Put it on my list and I’ll do it.” “I can take care of that honey.” These are the things I repeated over and over to my husband.
Soldier up. Salute. No complaining. Kiss him goodbye and watch him walk out the door. For years. And years. And years.
See it? See me driving into the desert and not even paying attention to the road signs?
The world’s perspective of what was going on? “Well, he should have been paying more attention to your needs! He should have seen that you were more important than a calling or other people.” Point the finger at your husband and show him all that he did wrong even though you never told him, or ever asked for help.
It was me. I had every opportunity to stop at a convenience store and ask for directions. Every opportunity to turn on the GPS and ask for help. But I didn’t. And so for 17 years I became a strong, resolute woman who took it all on. I never asked for help. I never complained. I never asked for directions.
And I got lost. WE GOT LOST. Seventeen years into marriage and we were virtually lost and very realistically on a road that I never dreamed I’d be on. We had created a system that worked. We were good at planning, we put things on the calendar, we coordinated. I knew when he would be in meetings. I knew when he would be unavailable. We made it work. But a car can only go so far and running smoothly if you don’t stop to get the oil changed once in awhile.
If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, then you’ll know what I’m talking about here. If not, stick with me and you’ll get a better understanding. As an endowed member of the church we have a blessed opportunity to find answers in the Holy Temples of God. A glorious awakening happened for me while attending the Temple just after I had come out of Depression (a hardship that I look at with great gratitude because it set our course straight as a couple). Our marriage was experiencing turbulence like I’d never felt before. On one particular occasion, I watched the Temple film for what seemed the millionth time, not expecting to find answers. But I did. There is that moment when Eve has to make a promise, and instead of making it with God directly, she physically turns toward her husband and makes a promise to him, and then in turn Adam makes a promise to God.
I know you’re wanting to ask what that could possibly mean? For me it was a lightbulb moment of great symbolic nature. A physical turning to her husband. When was the last time I turned to my husband for help? Possibly years. Didn’t I have it all under control? I sure thought so. My friends and family sure thought so. I was ruling my own little world. But I forgot to turn to my husband and ask for help.
Wendy Hurst Jones. Mompreneuer, manager of the household, ruler of her children. Fight! Fight! Fight!
I had fallen into the trap that I could do it all myself. And trouble was, I was losing in my marriage. We were in a sense travelling down two very different roads at two very different speeds and how could I ask where to go from my own husband if we weren’t even on the same road?
And so with the help of my counselor, learning about a man’s need to be needed, through mighty prayer, through reading books like Real Love in Marriage by Greg Baer, through relying on the Holy merits of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to pull us through, I began to stop and ask for help to get to the place I wanted to be.
And guess what happened?? Miracles. We found our way back. We fell in love deeper and deeper than I ever imagined I could love a person. We became wrapped into each other’s lives so deep that our texts and emails were disgustingly cheesy. We sent stupid memes to each other. We quoted lines from cheesy chick flicks. We found a show on Netflix that we both actually liked and watched it every night for months just so we had an excuse to be together. We started a weekly lunch date program where we picked different places to try and we didn’t calendar and didn’t talk logistics (a weekly thing we still do). We hold hands, and fondle each other, and pinch each other on the butts as we walk back to our car. We miss each other all day while he is at work. We talk really ooey gooey to each other on the phone. We call in the middle of the day just to hear each other’s voices. He is my best friend. I am his. We are each other’s world and our children revolve around us, not the other way around. Everything in our lives has fallen neatly into place. We crave more time together. And although he still has a big calling in our Church, we make plans to sneak away. We take impromptu trips to go mountain biking, or overnight stays in neighboring cities so we can be alone uninterrupted. We are having the most glorious marriage ever!! And I don’t share this here to brag. Because we have arrived at this beautiful destination because of the journey that Christ allowed us to travel. He is part of the equation. He is in the center. He is an equal partner in our decisions for our family.
See me now? Am I standing alone like those strong women I mentioned earlier?
I stand tall and strong, but I do it with my husband by my side and the Savior on the other.
There is no Fight! Fight! Fight! There is only Conquer! Conquer! Conquer!
And there is no shame or weakness in doing it with others by your side. Nothing about asking for help is a sign of weakness. I am stronger because my marriage is stronger. I am stronger because I have a Savior who constantly pulls me up.
Now I travel this beautiful new road with its steep inclines, winding paths, desert landscapes, and occasional bumps in the road (i.e. teens, busy schedules, life), but I do it with a knowledge that I will get there faster and more safely if I turn to him (husband) and Him (Jesus Christ) and ask for directions (help).
May your path to better your marriage be a blessed experience.
Take hope. The journey is a beautiful ride.
Restore yourself, friends.