In the last handful of weeks I’ve had two different friends invite me into a situation and ask me to pray for them and their wives. As men, a request like that often takes a great deal of personal strength.
We are typically more internal. Usually we like to fix things on our own, and opening ourselves to help requires letting our pride go out the window.
But we need each other. We need community; especially when we find ourself or our marriage in a tough spot. It’s in the most trying of circumstances that an outside voice can cut through the crazy and open our eyes to truth. Or if we made a mistake, that friend’s arm around our shoulder can make us feel that though we failed we are not a failure.
Community is meant to encourage and strengthen. It’s meant to correct us when we fail, protect us from ourselves and others, and give us the resources to become a better person — a better part of the community. The existence of community means we can go through things together. We are a people with “common unity” doing life.
Several years ago Lisa and I were really struggling. It was one of those fights that felt like it won’t be resolved and there’s a tension in the home for days. There was so much anger and frustration inside of me that I was done. In my mind we were headed for divorce. Again in my angry mind, what other option was there but ending things since no solution was coming quickly?
At that point in my life I didn’t feel I had anyone to turn to. My mentor was divorced and wasn’t really an option I wanted to tap into. And a few months earlier my closest friend had moved to another country. I’m close with my brothers (pictured above), but one had just gotten married, the other wasn’t yet married, and the third still isn’t. The subject matter didn’t feel like something they were ready to have me vomit on them.
The only thing that kept me hanging on was remembering my vows. We had promised to stay together “until death do us part.” Even though I kind of wished one of us were dead to make things easier, neither of us were. I’m a man of my word and I couldn’t bring myself to break a commitment.
I knew I needed to take a risk to widen my community. Lisa and I weren’t fixing things ourselves, and inside I was crumbling.
Though we hadn’t really talked on “that level” in our friendship, I reached out to a friend and simply said, “Hey man, I need a ‘bro’ in my life right now. Do you have time to chat?”
For girls something like this is probably easy. But for guys it’s like being a freshman in High School and asking a junior girl out on a date knowing that if she actually does want to go out with you she’s going to be the one to pick you up because she can drive and you can’t. It’s kind of awkward.[note]BTW, I did that as a freshman. It was awkward. But she picked me up for the dance and we had a good time.[/note]
But lo and behold, he said yes.
While I was hanging on by a thread, my friend’s words strengthened and encouraged me. His outside perspective helped me see things I couldn’t see. Probably most importantly, his prayer over me helped settle my spirit when I was in turmoil. I felt loved and understood during a time of feeling rejected and alone.
That 60–90 minutes with my friend may have saved my marriage.
This is what community can do. It can pull us out of the dark and show us light while giving us what we need to be better.
As men, it takes us swallowing our pride and dipping our toe in the pool of vulnerability. It may feel funny, awkward, and out of place for us, but I promise that the benefits of community will blow away the risk.
Community Helps Each Other
Knowing the many times various members in my community have helped me throughout almost a decade of marriage, I was honored to be called upon to help others the last few weeks.
That’s maybe the best part of doing life together. It’s reciprocal. If you’re being blessed and encouraged one day, there’s a chance you’ll have the opportunity to do the same in return in the future.
Do you have people in your life you can call your “community” when you need it? Who do you go to in the midst of a struggle? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Want a New Perspective?
I’ve created a measuring guide to alter how you view your marriage and your spouse. Ask yourself these questions, your mindset will shift quickly.