A few months ago, Dena Patton, the founder of Chat, Chew, and Chocolate, an international women’s organization, asked me if I would be interested in becoming one of the “Lifestyle Experts” for their website. Who wouldn’t be flattered by that?
The only catch was that she offered me the Weathering Marriage in Rough Times category. By accepting I would agree to write an article each month about how to navigate marital and long term relationships. I mulled this over for a bit as I felt a little awkward. Anyone who has read Halfway to Each Other knows that neither my husband nor I were especially good at it. We actually had to move to another country just to iron ourselves out and get our act together! Though I learned much during our year abroad and am happy to share the things that helped us revive our marriage, I could never don the badge of Expert. (Italian wine drinker and pasta eater expert? Maybe.)
Then it occurred to me that I don’t really believe in experts when it comes to marriage. I have yet to meet one couple that dances through it kicking up their heels in unified delight. Every couple is unique and no two personalities collide in exactly the same way. Who am I to tell another couple how to change their steps?
Oh, I respect the many doctors and therapists out there who have studied human behavior in all of its intricacies, and who are able to educate us with regards to communication and conflict resolution skills and other avenues to happiness. We need you more than ever. But I also respect the great power of sharing life’s journeys with each other. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I am so drawn to memoir. We all have hard earned wisdom to share.
Life stories amaze me. The love, courage and ingenuity revealed in the face of hardship or inexplicable evil inspire me to be more loving and courageous in my own life. The soul bearing grief or revelation of deep sadness or regret in a person’s tale often buries itself in my own soul reminding me to behave more empathetically and put myself second when others are hurting. Witnessing selflessness or simple, and not so simple, acts of forgiveness broadens my heart and dares me to act in the same manner toward those I love.
I am not trained as a therapist or counselor so I could not, in good faith, write an instruction manual for how to weather tough times in marriage, but I can create an arena that invites those who have successfully traveled difficult paths in their own relationships to share what they have lived and learned so that we may draw on these lessons when we are experiencing times of emotional drought.
Please join me at Chat, Chew, and Chocolate at the beginning of each month to sit around a virtual kitchen table with one of our peers as she/he tells the story of a time in his/her marriage that was particularly difficult and how they were able to work through it. No pressure here to be perfect or an expert at anything, just a fellow traveler on this often complicated journey of marriage.
Feel free to comment via this blog as the CCC website is not equipped for commenting.
This month’s guest is Stephanie Baffone. Stephanie, or Aunt Steph as she is known to many who read her advice column in Delaware’s The Community News, is a licensed, board certified mental health therapist. I love her blog and am happy to have her back to share her very personal essay about dealing with infertility in marriage.
National Infertility Awareness Week is April 24-April 30 and Susan was gracious enough to extend an invitation to me to guest post on how couples affected by infertility can keep their marriages strong in the face of the emotional turmoil. Thank you, Susan for the opportunity to share tips for couples on how to stare down the beast of infertility without allowing their marriages to become a victim of it. This post originally appeared in LifeGems4Marriage.com last year but it’s so valuable, it’s making another round this year.
How to Keep a Marriage Strong in the Face of Infertility
“You guys are both identical twins?! Wow! How many children do you guys have?” Expecting a staggering number, my husband’s and my response forlornly, has remained the same for 19 years.
We anticipated categorically, our foray into parenthood would be a breeze. Not only are we both identical twins, we hail from Irish, Italian, Catholic prolific families. My husband is one of ten and I am one of five, my mother having had two sets of twins. Yet our pursuit to hear our own children call us “Mommy” and “Daddy” was more tornado like. We didn’t see infertility coming and the emotional carnage it left in its wake was catastrophic.
To read the rest of Stephanie’s essay click HERE.