A marriage is like a room with many mansions. But how many rooms do you live in?
Jere is calm. He is even-keeled. I had an ongoing theory about him, me and most other couples I knew: the idea that there is a mean-line of emotional…and some people travel along that line barely going over or under – demonstrated by not getting overly excited about good things, or overly bothered by challenges. Then there are the people, like me, that felt highs very high…and lows very, very low. Both were okay, just different.
We have come to call this our emotional amplitude, with ranges that can vary greatly:
It explained a lot, and I even valued it – Jere was the ying to my yang, the calm to my excitement. But deep in my soul there were times I felt so disconnected, like we really didn’t even speak the same language. We have come to find out we didn’t.
Today, Jere is a far more demonstrably emotional man. He feels deeply, and isn’t ashamed to let me, and other people, know. Conversely, I have learned to feel the real emotion of the moment, rather than allow a secondary emotion (like anger) cloud my ability to share my soul. Now, we can make the crazy-amazing connection of the soul that marriage is meant to be.
This month, we are going to post a few ideas about why disconnection, and how to find it, authentically, in your relationship. The process takes courage – vulnerability and transparency are not for the weak. But the payoff…wow. Deep, heart-to-heart connection that creates an environment for both partners to individually flourish, and your relationship to be more than you ever dared dream.
We invite you to join us and work toward finding love without limit.
Susan and Jere
Our speech, our talk, has integrity. Or it doesn’t.
How many times has your child, or your spouse, uttered a begrudging “I’m sorry” in a tone that is anything but sorry, bearing a stance of engagement and a look of disgust?
When that happens, the listener can hear the words, but immediately struggles to decode the real message. Sure…the words say something, but nothing else about the moment supports what the words say. Doubt arises in the listener and most likely, tense moments, and possible tense words, follow.
Matthew 15:18 says “…what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart.” When we speak without integrity, we really have a heart issue, yet think that between the heart and the words traveling up through our throats and exiting our mouths we can cover up the real feelings, but our tone and body language give it away. Or at least give away that there is incongruity between the words and how we feel.
There were many times that we had buried the heart issues so deeply – news flash, they can hurt – that we would insist the incongruity was on the part of the hearer, rather than us, the speaker. We were wrong.
Today, we work hard in our marriage to use integrity speak. To make it easier on each other – relieve them from having to decode or figure out what we really mean. Today our words reflect our heart, and our tone and body language match.
Before we were willing to see this, and be open to learning new things and new ways, life in our home was much more unstable at best…toxic at times. Today, it is safe and encouraging. To use integrity speak, it has meant dealing with our heart issues, learning to care enough, to receive His love with so much abundance that it spills out in our speech and is carried through our tone and our gestures. It’s not something that just happens magically…it is hard, vulnerable work that takes bravery and perseverance. Oh…but the rich reward of living in a connected, intimate relationship with each other and our God is sweet. We want this for you, too, and are willing to show you the way.
Susan and Jere
“If it’s true you use broken things, then here I am Lord, I’m all yours”
Matthew West – Broken Things
Jere and I spent most of our lives pretending we weren’t very broken. That sure, we had some flaws, but not so much that we were broken.
We had it so wrong, so terribly and completely and utterly wrong.
We could not speak life or love into anyone, least of all, ourselves or our marriage, because we didn’t know life. We were living, constantly, to cover the death that we feared so much. Sure, we believed in eternal life. We believed Jesus died, once for all, for our salvation and that one day, we would be in heaven with Him. And those things are true, and we were right.
But here one earth, in the present and now, we were stuck. Rather than being ALIVE…we were dead. The earth death that subtly covered us was so incredibly overwhelming, we did everything we could to deny it, pretty it up, justify it, or just plain ignore it. The death that was actions and deeds. The death from our lips in the form of lies or pretensions or manipulations. The death that started in our thoughts that was plotting or revenge or untruths. The death that we couldn’t even see because it was so tightly tied on to every part of us. The death we would not have admitted, least of all to ourselves.
Then we just could not ignore it any longer. When Jere’s affairs came to light, I crumbled. I lay in a fetal position at first. He was pierced with his actions for the first time. And we began to move into a process with God, the Triune and mighty God standing firmly and compassionately with us on the journey of stripping and peeling and revealing.
Revealing our brokenness.
Drawing us into the surrender where we could find the balm and healing that would make us whole. Drawing us into the place of our purpose, and revealing to us that we could now speak. Speak of things we knew that only could be through our broken selves and His tender mercy as He healed us.
We have learned that yes, it’s true that He uses broken things. Such a dichotomy – such a mystery! The urgency that He has given us to tell the world what marriage can be is overwhelming. We are desperate to share the ways we have learned to heal. To speak life, to speak love, into our marriages.
Does your marriage need help? Do you wake up every day grateful to be next to your spouse? Do you ache to share your victories with your partner, and feel crazy until you have shared your fears, or challenges? Do you feel safe sharing anything at any time for any reason? Are you bound together as one, with no space between you, yet feel more freedom than ever to blossom as an individual?
If this isn’t your marriage experience – you can have more. Please reach out. We are broken…and want to speak life and love into your marriage.
Living the Unboundedlife,
Susan and Jere
You can have an amazing marriage. An outrageously connected, passionate, caring and fun marriage. The reason we are such proponents of amazing marriage is because ours wasn’t that way for a long time. Now that it is, we live in awe, appreciating every day the beauty of our relationship.
We care how we speak to each other. Whether we are sharing something wonderful and exciting, or scary and overwhelming, we use words that encourage the other to hear us. We understand, now, that our words can shut the other down or stop them from listening. We want to be heard.
We have learned that our words should tell the truth, that they should mean what they say and that we should, and can, say what we mean.
Words are important. They can be used to throw out old pain from inside and fling it on to someone else. They can be used as poorly cloaked daggers to inflict wounds and draw blood. Words can slice and boil and pierce.
Words can also build up. And soothe and comfort and heal.
During this month, we encourage you to love your spouse with your words. Use this month to speak life and vision and future into your partner, personally, and into your relationship. God showed us this in dramatic fashion. He spoke – He used words – to create this world we live in…the sun and stars and seas and mountains. His perfect love spilled out in words to create sunsets and rainforests and all the crazy, diverse animals that cohabitate with us. His words brought us light. His words brought us life.
Your words can do the same. Every day this month, look your spouse in the eye. Speak a dream and a hope into your marriage, into the life of your partner. Try it: I dream we are on the beach and hope we can get there this month, together. Or I dream that it is Saturday and hope we can lay in bed and have a cup of coffee. Or I dream you and I are dancing and hope we can go next week. Speak life, speak love, speak tomorrow into your marriage.
Watch what happens…
Susan and Jere
In 2014 I found out Jere was cheating. I found a letter that explained, in excruciating details, the length, depth and breadth of the affair he was involved in.
There was a line in that letter written by his mistress that is so profound. She writes, “You made me feel beautiful and desirable. I always knew that we could walk into a room full of beautiful women – all tens – and you would make me feel like an eleven.”
You may wonder why I would share these obviously painful words. When I first read this, and probably the second and third and tenth time, the sentences were just a couple of many that devastated and shattered my heart. But Jere and I have healed, and we have the most connected, intimate and beautiful marriage I know, now. A marriage of unity and trust and connection and love.
As we have healed, however, and as we have invested in the lives of other couples in training and coaching, those words continued to haunt me. You see, Jere didn’t make me feel that way for most of our marriage. I had been his wife for 27 years when the words were written…and I felt puny and unloved and undesirable. The majority of couples that we coach don’t feel this way either. They don’t know that they are valued and adored and cherished and beautiful. The words became incredibly insightful not only to our healing, but also in our work with broken couples.
We took note that most of us made sure to help our boy/girlfriends feel that way when we were dating. We were careful to give them kudos for the little and big things. We cheered them on, and we boosted them up. We listened to their fears and let them know how we believed in them. I’ve learned, and Jere admits, that affair partners also take great care to listen, to hear, to utter words and create spaces that they pretend are safe as they live in the fantasy of the illicit world.
Not so much married partners, though. Not so much two people who have pledged to care for each other in all circumstances and to love and honor each other in covenant. Over and over we work with couples who are married, yet hurting and hopeless, and unable to get even basic emotional needs met through the relationship. It seems the only thing rational to do is to part. To divorce.
But God tells us what is the most important in relationship. In Psalm 139:1-4, He literally writes out what true intimacy looks like: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
God lovingly painted the picture for what an intimate relationship, a covenant relationship, looks like with those words. As you read them, doesn’t your heart crave this? Crave to be known in every part? No secrets, no walking on egg-shells or wearing a mask – and still being ADORED? My husband’s lover felt that way – even though it was false and just the fantasy speaking – seeing those words in print was the start of us realizing huge gaps in most marriages that allow for anything BUT intimacy and connection and love to develop.
God didn’t stop with the picture. He gave us clues how to achieve this intimacy. His word tells us that He listens. To us. He demonstrates that love is active, and listening/knowing is key. In James 1:19, God says we “should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” In verse 22, He adds “don’t merely listen to the Word…do it.” In Jeremiah 33:3, God adds “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
This is the way we should be within our marriages. We should desperately seek to know each other’s innermost parts and to be intimately connected. Intimacy is impossible unless we are revealed, and as spouses, we learn first through listening. Listening to the heart and the countenance and the responses of our spouse. Then, when we have learned through listening, we can act. We can lean into the things that we have uncovered through supportive compassion, engaging responses and actions that demonstrate we have not just listened…but we have heard. And we know how to respond uniquely and specifically to them – the one we know.
It sounds easy, yet doesn’t come naturally. Listening with no intention to respond is hard work, and goes against our natural human response. Speaking their language, the one they can hear, and to their heart IS the essence of love.
Jere and I demonstrate this to couples, and coach them as they learn how to change the way they communicate. We ask couples to take time, every day, to practice: look at each other in the eyes, face-to-face. Touch or hold hands or somehow physically connect if possible, and share. As they do, we help them learn to stop listening with an intent to respond, but rather with a goal to understand. We help them develop a pattern of ensuring they have heard, affirmed, and validated their spouse and are willing and able to demonstrate empathy.
Great and unsearchable things they didn’t know about each other begin to unfold, and the connection they were always meant to have between them is sparked. Couples learn to listen. They experience being heard, and known.
Healing happens, hope abounds, and love? Love wins.
For information on how you can learn to listen, to bring hope to your hurting marriage in a way that fosters intimacy, passion and connection, please reach out to us:
Jere Pitman – email@example.com or Susan Pitman – firstname.lastname@example.org .
We are passionate about living love without limits.
Let everything you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
Jere and I were learning about love, romantic love, in the era of Love Story, the novel-made-movie by Erich Segal. Remember that one? Love means never having to say you’re sorry?
So many of us bought that idea, tucked it away in our minds and hearts, and then when we got into our relationships and marriages we were shocked to discover it wasn’t that easy. We struggled…many of us decided that if we did have to say sorry, or our partner needed us to say sorry, then the relationship must just not be right, right?
We believed that somehow love, no, L O V E , was only real and valid and sustainable if it just – worked – . Not having to say sorry.
We don’t believe that anymore.
Today, after 30 years of marriage, Jere and I have a love that is incredibly connected and passionate and real. Our souls are knit into one: my heart is pierced when he hurts and he feels joy in my discoveries. We share a heartbeat and a oneness that is tangible, yet we are growing in our encouragement of our individual pursuits. We really live in abundance: as our relationship thrives and grows, so do we personally. It is crazy how crazy-good love can be…
Not so much before though: the first 27 years were spent with us each vying hard for our individuality. Making sure the other didn’t get the better of things. Jockeying in words and money and deeds to take care of ourselves, and contribute to the whole – as long as the whole was giving benefits back. We heard of sacrificial love, and we both paid lip service to that – our sacrifices might be not buying a new dress so I could get the kids fabulous holiday outfits, or giving up one fishing trip so he could go on a week-long fishing trip to Venezuela…always calculated for what we got in payment for the sacrifice.
We looked so good on the outside, shiny smiles and darling kiddos. We had great jobs and invested in the community and church and school and looked like we had it all. But secretly, we were so broken. Thinking there had to be more and finding ways to fill the holes in our lives…me, with community engagements and Bible studies and food. Him, with hunting and fishing and alcohol and women. Now, we both know that we both wished it was different, that we wanted to really be what we looked like as a couple, and as a family, but we never quite told each other. We went to marriage counseling a few times during extreme crisis moments, and would have flashes of hoping it would be better but –ultimately, we went back to our corners of quiet despair and just kept getting up every day and doing what we needed to do and wishing it would – it could – change.
Until 3 years ago, when the brave “Sid Breeze” chose to write an anonymous email that uncovered the chip in our closely-held covering. The chip that was a fissure that was a gaping, raggedy crack that really severed us completely. There we were. Him there. Me here. And just a wad of ugliness and lies and self-interest and protection and reaction and pain between us. We could have walked away, and done as we’d done so well to that point with our pretensions and masks. We could’ve turned our backs and headed in opposite directions, making it official, and delved into new people and places and experiences.
Except that is when we learned what love is. What is really is.
What a day to be writing these words. The day that our faith is rocked by the greatest love story of all. The day when the Truth of love is revealed as our Savior chose to walk directly and totally and completely into our filth, to take it on and wrap it around himself. To have it whipped and flogged into his very flesh, and to have it pressed into his head. To have it screamed at him in mockery and threats and anger. To have it nailed through his bones. To have it pierced through his side. He didn’t turn his back and head away – he turned TO our mess and dove in as blood and sweat and tears dripped down his nakedness. As He cried out to the Father on behalf of the very ones who had placed Him there.
So I, so we, could be free. Free to be loved. Free to love.
As Jere and I began to survey the wreckage that was our lives, the pain that had been heaped on us, and the pain we had flung, we saw Christ. We saw Him in the garden, asking and begging for the cup of the Covenant to be taken…but no…He chose to continue what he’d started. And it was this pivotal moment of our despair in which we saw, with incredible clarity, what love really is.
Love doesn’t mean saying you’re sorry…once. It does mean hearing His words on our behalf: Father, forgive them…Through our healing, we have learned more and more and more ways to feel sorrow for things done to us and by us. And to feel each other’s hurt, and to soothe each other’s wounds. Our lives are now wrapped in understanding the beauty of our pain, the path through sorrow to freedom and the enveloping love of surrender – to our Savior, and to our marriage covenant that is Jere, me and God. Our love, this love, was birthed, and grows, through walking directly into the scary places with vulnerability and transparency. He led us there – to where and what love really is.
“And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)