Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER (02/28/19)
TITLE: Strong, Loving Hearts
By Jennifer Woodley
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The first year Daniel left, we bought a house block in a lovely, treed housing estate just days before his ship sailed. Upon returning, six months later, I welcomed Daniel to our new home, while handing him a shovel to help me with the landscaping. My dear husband had escaped all the details and demands that go with the house construction process and the challenges of raising high energy sons in the midst of the myriad of decisions that had to be made.
These extended periods away from the family and settling into a new home without a husband and a father were difficult, to say the least. The longing to be together again grew stronger as the days stretched into weeks and then on into months. Juggling household responsibilities by myself and sharing the ups and downs of daily life with Daniel via mail or the odd phone call, was difficult for us both and intensified our longing to be reunited.
Yet these challenging circumstances, were the very conditions that cemented our commitment to each other and increased our desire to see this season through successfully. Some navy wives found that the absence of their husbands chilled their commitment to marriage and lessened their desire to be reunited. Our feelings however, were quite the opposite. Absence from one another simply ignited our passion to be with each other. Absence, tested in the furnace of difficult circumstances, produced a resilience, a determination and a passion that was more than just fondness. The outcome of going through this fiery furnace was a pure, strong love and deep devotion to one another.
I have been married for almost 35 years now. Though Daniel’s navy days have come to an end, we have often taken time away from each other for a multitude of reasons. Separation for shorter seasons, has been something we have naturally woven into our married life. We feel that absence is a rhythm that has kept our marriage strong and healthy. Living alone for a week or so, while the other is away, gives us space to be ourselves, enjoy our own company, and also reflect on how important the significant other is. We both bring something important to our marriage and time apart provides a healthy space to think from a distance about how we are going together and if we are bringing the best version of ourselves to the marriage relationship. Absence from one another is crucial for reflection and self-assessment. And of course, absence has made our desire for one another stronger, because the reunion is always joyous. We have missed each other, after all!
I wonder how this idea of absence in marriage for a time sits with you? Could this be something that might be welcomed into your marriage as an invitation to see it grow and become stronger? If you are resisting the idea, I wonder what lays underneath that resistance? Absence does make the heart fonder. But even more than this, it builds resilience and longing, making the love in our heart for one another stronger. And that is what every marriage needs: two strong, loving hearts, beating together as one.
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