I was heavily pregnant, and dealing with the random episodes of sickness that would hit during the night. On each occasion, even though my husband was often enjoying his sleep, he would hear me get up to rush (speed waddle) to the bathroom and follow behind me to make sure I was okay. On one particular night, the sickness hit before I could reach the toilet…
The walls, the floor – I looked around in horror as Liam arrived behind me to see the carnage. I immediately started trying to clean up after myself, and I almost didn’t hear when he said the words “don’t worry, I’ll do it”. I assured him that I was fine and continued wiping away the mess, so he left me to it. When I finally returned to bed, I was surprised to find him still awake and waiting for me.
Following our conversation, I realised how much it meant to him to be able to help me even when I was in the middle of my mess. I felt like it was my mess to clean, especially because it was something that left me feeling at my most vulnerable. I learned something that night… Love in action calls you to care for your spouse both when they have it all together, and when they fall apart. Sometimes you will go through experiences that leave you feeling entirely vulnerable to the point where you question if any of your dignity remains. Sickness and health issues especially can leave you feeling messy and unattractive to your spouse, but their response to you in these moments can deepen your love far beyond the shallow concept that many experience.
It is in these vulnerable moments of your life that you see what your marriage is truly made of. It is in these moments that you are reassured that you can rely on your spouse when you need them most.
From that night, I let my husband step in. I pushed my own insecurities aside, and let him love me for all of me. This challenge is especially real in moments of illness, but there are also other areas of your relationship where you may be letting your insecurities rule. Whether you don’t like being seen in your natural state – whatever that looks like as a husband or wife, there is so much to be said in being able to stand before your spouse entirely naked (physically, mentally and spiritually) and to not feel ashamed.
When was the last time you let your partner see, let alone clean your mess?
The fact is that no matter how good we are at keeping up appearances, we are all dealing with an internal mess of some kind that we have collected over the years. Combining your childhood, past relationships, addictions, bad habits… is it any wonder that we struggle? The beauty of what marriage is designed to be, is that you now have a safe space where your mess becomes shared. Your spouse gets to see the beautiful side that drew them to commit their life to you, but they also see the side that no one else gets to see – the darker and often uglier side that you would rather leave hidden.
Let me clarify that in talking about letting your partner “clean your mess”, I don’t mean that they should be trying to fix or solve your problems for you. I’m talking about the fact that there are often times where we are quick to put up walls rather than letting our partner in to help support us to work through whatever challenges we are facing. Health-related or otherwise, it helps to know that we have someone there to share our burden and care for us even when we may be struggling to care for ourselves.
I’ve heard stories about couples who have had to deal with the crisis of one spouse being injured to the point of paralysis, or facing the diagnosis of a terminal disease… This may be your reality or you may even know a couple who is currently facing this, and in all honesty I can’t imagine going through something like this myself, but it is in such moments that you see exactly what your marriage is made of. If there was ever a time to consider your wedding vows and the weight of those words you repeated to one another, it is now.
With age comes the potential of more health challenges, and it is so important to be able to have those seemingly uncomfortable conversations with your spouse now so that you can rely on each other when you need to most. Maybe you’ve found an unusual growth on your body that you’re worried about, or maybe you’re noticing something abnormal when you use the toilet. It may even be something that you don’t think to mention, such as needing pads, tampons or whatever method you use for your menstrual cycle each month. If you needed him to, could you rely on your husband to get what you need? Or could you rely on your wife to check your genitals for that lump you can’t see yourself?
My pregnancy journey taught me a lot, but one significant lesson I held onto throughout is that health is far from guaranteed. I wouldn’t say that I had a difficult pregnancy, but each milestone of the journey was something to be celebrated when I considered how many couples had to deal with miscarriages or struggle to conceive in the first place. To have a healthy baby at the end of it all was the ultimate blessing, and a reminder that I can’t take my health for granted. That and the fact that my husband was right there with me – it was our journey to share.
Are you afraid of getting “messy” around your spouse? What do you feel may have caused some of the walls you have built to prevent you being entirely vulnerable?
Take some time to write down your initial thoughts and feelings in response to this post. This is a good place to start before deciding how to explore this further. If you feel ready, share what you have written with your spouse for them to read themselves, before coming together and discussing any issues you have raised.
If you don’t feel like you can share, then hold onto what you have written so you can refer back to it. Sometimes we lose sight of how we truly feel because we are used to pushing our feelings to one side, so having your words in front of you will encourage you to take more responsibility for the parts of you that you don’t usually spend time with.