It was the evening of November 7, 2000, and Americans were glued to their TV sets for the results of the presidential election. We were home with our 2-week-old daughter and as the country was debating and arguing over the disputed race, we were debating over a marriage hanging on by a thread.
On the day of our wedding we had no doubt that we would have the perfect marriage, but less than five years later our relationship was on the brink of disaster.
Ashlee: I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I was dealing with postpartum depression on top of feeling completely disconnected from Clayton. I felt trapped in a broken relationship, I felt trapped in an identity of unworthiness, I felt trapped in this new role of mom, and I was depressed. I was angry with Clayton because I believed he had failed us and I was not willing to forgive him.
Clayton: For me, since I wasn’t getting attention, honor or respect at home, all my efforts turned to my job. I would get to my office early and stay late. There was a sense of joy and ease when I was there and it seemed like everyone liked me. It felt like a different story at home. There were many times I would think to myself: “She is the one with the issue. Why can’t she change?”
In the middle of 2001, we came to a tipping point. We had to make a change. We prayed to God for help and both sensed him asking us: Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have the marriage you have always hoped and dreamed of having?
We had tried a few things, but not everything. We had not gone to counseling, humbled ourselves to each other or sought forgiveness, and we had not taken the time to learn what we needed to make our marriage a success. Once we gave up our right to be right and both determined that we would do whatever it took, then we saw hope.
For us, the hardest part of marriage is humility. But by putting in the time and effort, and by making small intentional choices to love each other well every single day, we’ve made great strides in the humility department. Here are what a few of those choices look like:
1) We started spending more time listening to each other as well as accepting and appreciating the differences between us.
2) Each day we decided that our happiness was not dependent on each other. Instead our happiness was a choice that we made, not a feeling.
3) We became more transparent, honest and open with our communication instead of playing the mind games that would add to our frustration.
Our pastor, Joel Osteen, has said that “the healing for your relationship begins with humility.” We couldn’t agree more.
Humility is choosing love over hate, kindness over harshness, and to forgive instead of holding onto the past. When you and your spouse choose to humble yourselves, you’re on the right path to having the marriage you've always hoped and dreamed of having.