As I write this article, I am thinking about a severe weather watch for this afternoon. I find myself discouraged at the prospect of another day of rain. I am struggling to become motivated to “seize” the day. It is easy to forget that Saturday was an amazingly beautiful and perfect day. Today it seems as if the weather is going to rain forever with no end in sight. I have come to realize that if I allow it, the weather can affect my attitude, my motivation and even the commitment that I have to living my life with passion and purpose.
However, the unpredictable weather here in Ohio is not a surprise to those of us who live in Ohio. We know this and adjust our lives accordingly. This adjustment does not mean that we always like the weather in Ohio, nor does it mean that the weather always pleases us and makes us “feel good”. We make this adjustment because we live here. Our families, jobs, friends and homes are here in Ohio. We have history here and, even on the dreary days, we hope to have a future here.
At this point, you might be wondering, “What does the weather in Ohio have to do with relationships?” I think that the weather is a great analogy for commitment in a marriage. We would think that our neighbors were crazy if they packed up and moved one day because of the bad weather we had been having. What if we decided to pack up and move across the United States where we thought the skies were clearer, the sun brighter and the water bluer just because our skies had been dreary here in Ohio? This sounds absurd but often couples who decide to end a marriage have become that desperate.
Just like the weather, marriages go through ups and downs—highs and lows. There are times in every marriage that it feels like the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and all is right with the world. It is easy to make sacrifices for each other during this time. Your marriage is overflowing with optimism and hope. Dedication to the commitment that you have made to each other flows out from within. You are internally motivated.
Then there are the times in our marriages that the skies are dark, filled with ominous looking clouds. The winds are blowing and the rain is falling. It is difficult to make sacrifices for each other during this time because the relationship does not feel good and we have little hope. We become like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh thinking that life will always be this miserable. These times do not feel good and it is hard to believe that life will ever change. It is during these times of constraint that many couples decide to throw in the towel. Give up on the commitment that they have made and go look for bluer and brighter skies.
Unfortunately, the weather is not perfect anywhere. Even Hawaii has tornados. Weather changes. When the clouds are dark we can be sure that if we hang on long enough, clear skies will return. We do not give up during a season of bad weather. We have too much invested in our current location and we realize that a new location comes with many uncertainties as well. It is the same with marriage.
Marriage is full of ups and downs. If you find yourself in a season of bad weather, it is important to remember that you both have invested too much to give up on this relationship. Children, homes, and shared memories are just a few of the valuable investments.
Throwing in the towel and seeking a new “happier” life comes with many uncertainties and you can be certain there will be more storms ahead in a new relationship. Seek shelter from the storm together. Seek out help if your house has been devastated by a current storm. Just like houses, marriages can be rebuilt—even stronger to weather future storms and to enjoy the sunshine that is ahead.
Becki Robinson is the co-director of the Marriage Resource Center of Greene County and guest columnist.