Tragic Mediocrity. Is This Your Marriage?

couple-distanceI’ve had four tragic things happen to me.

The first tragedy came when I was 4, and my 3-year-old cousin — my first playmate — drowned.  My earliest memories are of him. Vivid. Intense. Innocent. Memories.

The second tragedy came when I was 12 and my parents divorced.  Everything has ultimately panned out fine, but I’d be lying if I said their divorce didn’t rack up more than a few emotional costs for all of us.

The third tragedy came when I was 30 and my husband of nearly 7 years walked out of our marriage. And didn’t come back.

The fourth tragedy. Well, I don’t want to talk about it.

You have had tragedies too, right?

The circumstances and depth of loss vary for everyone, but your life’s landscape has its own scars.  Complex. Intricate. Unfathomable scars.

The older I get, the more aware I am of the train-wreckish nature of the human experience.

And those of us who have chosen marriage have intentionally decided to unite our life with someone else’s.  If I could, I would insert a visual here.  The menagerie of my own triumphs, train wrecks and tragedies colliding with those of my current husband.  Pretty picture, huh?

Lest you think this post is a bit of a downer, hold on with me.  The tender truth and blessing are revealed in the most unlikely of ways.

My theory (albeit, nothing scientific to it) is that too many marriages stall at mediocrity — caught somewhere between “squeaky-clean falling in love” and “rich authentic vulnerability.”

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Falling in love feels great. Beyond magical in many regards.

Being in love?

Well, being in love often gets buried beneath an onslaught of schedules and tedious details.  In many marriages, the “other woman” is the calendar — hell bent on creating two strangers under one roof who occasionally touch base to figure out whose fault it is that there is no milk. Or clean socks. Or emergency fund.

And what about sex? Sadly, that often slips out of the scene silently, reappearing only occasionally as a token bystander, clothed in awkward obligation and misunderstanding.

Enter mediocrity. Stage right.

So here’s the “come-to-Jesus” moment… the $20,000 question, so to speak…

Will you scrape and claw and humble yourself toward rich authentic vulnerabilty?

Will you forgo mediocrity for something better in the life the two of you share together?

My husband and I are coming up on 10 years of marriage. 10 years.  Really? When did that happen? In that time, we have scraped and clawed and humbled ourselves toward rich authentic vulnerability.

That is what makes the sex so amazing, in case you were wondering.

For all the secrets of great sex being hawked in magazines, the truth is that phenomenal sex is the byproduct of tender, deep, enduring friendship… friendship of the the one-fleshy variety that can be found only on the other side of “I do” and “I do too.”

For some of you reading this, you’re hitting milestones way beyond 10 years.  20 years? 30 years? 40 years? And for others reading this, you’re just coming out of the gate, rounding the bend at 2 years or 5 years.

No matter where you are, choose now to not settle for mediocrity.

It’s going to take gut-level work that is deliberate in a way that no one can really comprehend when they stand at the altar.

The alternative?  Well, in many marriages the alternative is a rather lackadaisical drift into horrendous mediocrity.  Sure, some people careen toward it, but if I was a betting gal, I’d place my money on the lackadaisical drift as the more common villain.

Tragic.  And who wants more tragedy?

Haven’t you had enough tragedy in your life?

Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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13 thoughts on “Tragic Mediocrity. Is This Your Marriage?

  1. Brian Canter says:

    Julie, this is one of your best. I might be wrong but I think I can feel the pain of the past but the hope (God type Hope) of the future.


  2. Sarah says:

    Excellent post! Reminds me all to well of my first marriage in which my husband (then) of 10 years walked out, leaving me and two young sons. I am in a happy, fulfilling marriage now-my husband truly is my best friend, and you hit right on it! What we share that makes us work so well, is the ability to be vulnerable.

  3. joe says:

    My wife and I are headed that direction if we aren’t already there. I am not even sure if my wife really cares either. I plead and ask what I can do to help or change. I get no response. I don’t know what to do. She has acknowledged that there is a problem but seems to put off working on a solution or telling me what she needs me to say or do or change. She doesn’t outright refuse to give an answer, she just sort of gives a non-answer, what you would expect from a politician mid term. I don’t know what we’re gonna do.

  4. chris skudder says:

    So well said – very especially that part about “the train-wreckish nature of life.” Like you said- not to be negative, but being objective- most of us have endured difficult things and these thing CHANGE us, leave their impact. Each of us is a product of our history. And we bring all of that to a marriage, and then life continues and often adds more.

    As you said – with God’ help, we need to continually work, and when necessary fight, to make + keep our spouse and our marriage the blessing that God made it to be. The marriage has more potential for joy and peace that pretty much everything else in this world – except perhaps faith.

    God bless you – your words – your work – and all of us!

  5. Kevin says:

    Awesome. Not judging, just a statement of fact: No one gets through childhood and life without wounds. It is what we do about them that matters, and can have a really positive impact on our lives, relationships and not least of all, the children we may rear.
    Thank you

  6. Charity says:

    We’ve just completed 4 years so, I guess ‘coming out of the gate.’ But we’re at this point, and I think it’s my fault being the woman in the relationship. (Not because I am the woman, but just saying) But I really don’t know how to make it better and I want to. Where do I look for some help and a solution?

  7. Want2Revitalize! says:

    I would love to have our relationship rise to the level of mediocrity. That would be a huge achievement.

  8. JulieSibert says:

    @Charity… I would suggest a heartfelt conversation with your spouse about what you both need to do in order for things to improve. If that doesn’t move you both toward healthier intimacy, I would suggest counseling. If your spouse doesn’t want to go, then I would say go on your own… not only to get wise insights from a Christian counselor, but also to demonstrate to your spouse your commitment to the marriage.

    There are many Christian intimacy books on the market as well, so if you and/or your spouse are readers, that’s an option.

  9. Daniel says:

    I have had tragedies in my life too. I was in a relationship with someone who attempted to kill me and I wound up hospitalized but thanks to God I recovered.

    After my trials, God blessed me with a beautiful wife and wonderful children. I am rich beyond belief and I am not talking about money though we have plenty of that too.

    But what we don’t have is a marriage where we give to each other physically. Or more accurately stated, I want to give, she doesn’t want to give, and she also doesn’t want to receive.

    My prayer today is that I can have a mediocre marriage. That would be wonderful compared to what I am experiencing now. There is nothing wrong with mediocrity as far as I’m concerned. I would give anything for that.

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