When You Think Your Marriage Is Dead…Give It One Last Look

“Girls, look ahead! The mountain is out, you can see it…”

This phrase, “the mountain is out,” is a very Pacific Northwest thing to say. Outside of the Seattle area, I’m not sure it would make much sense. But, for us locals, those four words beckon us to look up and notice a rare cloudless sky marked only by the beautiful face of Mount Rainier looking down happily on all of us. When the mountain is out, our collective spirits are lifted. We’ve made it through another storm and this beautiful view is our reward.

My three little daughters shifted their heads around from the backseat of our SUV as my husband, Tony, navigated down the 405. When Nora, our middle child, saw the mountain for herself, she began to shout, “I see it!” Then Claire called out, “Look, it’s so big! It looks closer.”

The freeway twisted and turned, and with a pleasant sigh Nora said, “That was beautiful.”

“It IS beautiful,” Claire corrected her, in true oldest sister fashion.

“Well,” Nora asserted, “It WAS beautiful when I could see it. But, I can’t see it anymore.”

I wondered then, from my vantage point in the front seat, if Nora really thought the mountain wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Do beautiful things cease to be beautiful when we can no longer see the beauty ourselves?

Emily's Orchid
It reminded me of something my friend Emily said at the beginning of the year. She shared this photo of an orchid on Instagram and with it she wrote:

“This is the orchid my husband bought me for our anniversary last July. The original blooms held on until sometime in November before falling into the kitchen sink (this window sill is just behind my faucet). For a stretch, I just let it be. Watered it every now and then, even though it looked like dead sticks pushed up out of the dirt. Then in December, I had a passing thought to look up how to care for it more intentionally, which consisted of carefully pruning two little branches. It didn’t seem like anything was happening for weeks, until buds started forming a week or two ago, and here you see a new delicate bloom about to emerge.

Because this orchid is symbolic of my marriage, I wanted to encourage those of you who might be in the ‘dead sticks’ season of your marriage. It is not easy to keep investing in a relationship that doesn’t feel like it is going well. I’ve been married 11.5 years to an incredible person, but we have hurt each other deeply at different times, and it has not been all roses…or orchids. But as we have taken tiny steps to tend to each other–to sacrifice what we can for the other’s benefit and communicate honestly about what we need–our love blooms again and again, for which I am grateful. I say a prayer for you who don’t feel like your partner knows your real heart, for those of you who don’t know how to bridge the distance or heal the hurt…May this year be one that you continue investing, continue tending the love you have committed yourself to, and may your marriage re-bloom in a beautiful and gentle way in 2017.”

Michelle Peterson
Michelle Peterson
Michelle Peterson loves LOVE! In 2012 she founded #staymarried, a blog and podcast that serves over 70,000 people each month by bringing them hope, stories, and resources to help couples navigate the beautiful and daunting work of marriage. She lives in the burbs just outside of Seattle, Washington with her talented and creative husband Tony and their three little daughters Claire, Nora, and Alice. You can find her on Twitter (@mchellepeterson) and Instagram (@mchellepeterson & @staymarriedblog), or hiding out at home with her girls.

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