It was 2am on a Sunday morning when I was suddenly awakened out of my sleep with debilitating anxiety. We had just had one of our first big fights where we had said big cuss words to each other. I was certain that what we were fighting over, and what had been said, was enough to make him rethink his decision to love me.
It was strangely quiet in the room, and I didn’t hear my husband breathing, so I started gently feeling around his side of the bed. If he was still there, I didn’t want to wake him. But I was also still mad, so I didn’t want it to seem like I was checking for him, either.
As I tapped gently, closer to his side, I inadvertently touched his arm, and his still voice said, “I’m still here.”
In that moment, those three words meant so much more than what was actually being verbalized. It would have been easy for him to sleep in the next room. He could have said nothing at all when I touched his arm that night. But instead of allowing me to wonder in the dark silence, he chose to let me know that he was there; that he wasn’t going anywhere; and that I wasn’t alone in this.
The breaking down of a marriage doesn’t start with the big fights. It’s not the shouting matches that can sometimes last for hours. It’s not even always the breaking of trusts, as many would believe. Marriages begin to erode in the silence. The silence that takes over when someone is tired of not being “heard.” The silence that sets in when someone feels taken for granted. Or even the silence that becomes normal when neither of you feels “safe” to be who you are in your relationship anymore. The silent killer of marriage is silence. Because while you may not be hearing each other in the silence, you’re still hearing something.
Breaking the “silence” in our marriage was not easy. It required us to first abandon our assumptions and disregard what our internal conversations were telling us about each other. Because no matter how uncomfortable our marriage was, it was easier to live with the assumptions than to face the potential of a break down. After we abandoned our assumptions, we then had to be intentional about creating an environment that allowed us to be completely open about our feelings, our heart, and our intentions. If something made us uncomfortable, we said it. If we needed or desired something from the other, we expressed it. If we had fears or insecurities, we shared them. If we needed to be vulnerable, we left room for it.
Being married is more than just committing to being there and never leaving. It’s committing to never giving up in the constant pursuit of learning each other. It’s searching for new ways to see and understand each other. It’s never taking for granted who our spouse is today and who they are becoming.
In our latest book, Covered, we help couples become a place of refuge for each other with four simple, yet profound words—Safety, Security, Trust and Empathy. Or what we refer to as The 4-Pillars. As a remarried couple and a blended family, these four words have given us the most honest, vulnerable, and connective relationship that was missing in our past failed relationships.
Told from both the husband’s and the wife’s perspective, each chapter, and corresponding discussion questions, has been designed to help you see yourself through the reflection of your spouse.