In my last post I mentioned how Vicky and I had agreed for me to accept additional away work for a season.
There haven't been any real surprises and we are achieving what we had set out to do. For now at least we will continue toward the self imposed deadline we originally set.
Here are a few things that have placed us well to navigate this season.
You can refer back to my previous post for more on this, but essentially we started in agreement and continue in agreement through regular and honest discussion.
When I'm away Vicky and I touch base daily. Connectivity is sometimes an issue but so far we have been able to maintain phone contact. Neither of us are inclined to spend hours on the phone, but the simple, regular opportunity to hear each other's voices is invaluable in helping to maintain our connection. We supplement our chats with public and private social media connections.
I also started a family chat group in messenger which expands our communication to the immediate family around us. This has been a real bonus with comments, photos and even videos shared of what is going on in all of our lives.
The Usual Boundaries
Apart or together, Vicky and I have boundaries that we live within to protect us and our marriage. Boundaries that govern our behaviours, associations and accountability levels. Being apart doesn't mean we take a holiday from these protective practices, and it may be that our boundaries become even more important when we are operating with a distance between us.
We started by weighing up the pros and cons of this decision and we continue to re-evaluate as we go. We ask ourselves if our current course is delivering the results we wanted and are the trade-offs inline with our expectations. We also examine how we feel about our progress and how we are managing ourselves in it. We've agreed that if one of us begins to have difficulty we will adjust or terminate our plans. The relationship and our health within it are more important than any external outcomes.
It would always be our desire to reconnect if we have been apart for any length of time. What became immediately clear to both of us that while we desired to reconnect, it was also a necessity. What we discovered was that if we didn't allow sufficient time together on my return, we would carry a sense of anxiety. By intentionally carving out sufficient alone time with one another, we re-established our equilibrium.
The main feature of these times is conversation that typically meanders around filling in the blanks of what happened while we were apart through shallows and depths, laughter and serious conversation. We've created an array of times and spaces and activities that foster a quality into our quantity of time together.
In contrast, I have observed other couples who don't manage to prioritise each other by deliberately re/connecting and you can see that a distance remains between them even when they are together.
How do you manage your marriage connection?
Steven and Vicky Bolt
Over the last year, I've been working away from home more than I have for the rest of our married life.
It's not something that has happened by accident. It's the result of a conscious decision that Vicky and I jointly made. It's a decision we made for a specific reason and for a predetermined season, and as a part of the decision process, we weighed up the pros and cons as best we could.
So we agreed to move in this direction by honestly discussing and mulling over the details. We shared our thoughts about the different aspects and even how we felt about it. It's worth noting that while our feelings didn't rule the process, we did take the time to consider our emotional sense.
For us, talking to God about our plans is also a part of the process. So everybody who is responsible for our decision/s and directly affected by them had opportunity to have input into the decision. That's how true agreement is reached.
In the early years of our marriage I would talk to Vicky about things and deliberately focus on the points that I thought would lead her to the same outcome I wanted. That's deception. Gaining agreement by being dishonest isn't actually agreement at all. Inevitably the consequences of your decisions will reveal the truth over time. If you've been manipulative or deceptive, you will eventually have to face the music. It's not worth it.
Being in agreement has been one of the earliest and most important lessons we've learned along the way in our marriage journey. It's not always an easy process or a quick one, but coming to a place of agreement is essential.
Sometimes we are not completely on the same page. One of us may doubt some aspect of the decision or its projected outcome and consequences. In those cases we will ask ourselves questions like, what is the worst thing that could happen? Is it in line with our values? What is behind my reservations? Would the partner who initiated the opportunity benefit from me demonstrating trust in them in the face of some doubt?
Not every decision we make is a good one. We've had some massive fails, but because we do the work to reach agreement, we minimise the potential for resentment retaliation and, "I told you so's".
So how are we going with our current work decision?
Pretty much as planned and agreed. I can confidently say that, because our conversation didn't end at the initial decision. We are constantly evaluating and managing ourselves through it. In fact we have stepped up our alertness and deliberateness. I'll talk more about that in an upcoming post. Are we enjoying the separation? No, but we knew that going in.
So does absence really make the heart grow stronger? It really depends on you. For us the answer is a resounding "yes", but It ain't necessarily so. I have witnessed other couples drift into parallel lives.
One success key is starting in and staying in agreement.
We have a TV drama in Australia that depicts many of its characters moving from crisis to crisis, while moving with equal speed from bed to bed. Confessions of undying love are followed quickly by conflicting feelings that are soon acted on to repeat the destructive cycle of the "relationship merry-go-round"
But the real tragedies are being played out in real lives, in real homes across Australia ........and beyond.
The euphoric feelings that accompany fresh love are exciting and highly desirable. I would certainly rather live with them than without.
So how do we keep those delicious feelings of romantic love alive while avoiding another spin on the "Relationship Merry-Go-Round" as played out on our TV screens?
Are TV dramas guilty of shaping our beliefs and expectations of relationships or are they a condensed commentary on real life experiences? I'm going to say both are true, but the choice is always ours, as to what we believe and how our life and relationships play out.
Vicky & Steve Bolt
Started out as possibly the most clueless individuals to ever say "I do", but they are now enjoying their lifetime marriage journey through all the highs and lows. As a result, they have increasingly become an inspiration to marriages and those who desire to be in a healthy marriage.