How many times have you felt like giving up on your marriage when it’s just one thing after another? Your end goal keeps moving in unexpected ways, or is blockaded time and time again. If you’re like me, it seems like you cross one hurdle, or overcome one obstacle, just to uncover another one.
Among the many times I’ve experienced frustration and despair, the story I’d like to share (including the lesson learned), happened in 2010, when my husband was assigned by his corporate heads to relocate to another continent for a year. As exotic and adventurous as that opportunity sounded to our friends, the realities were anything but. One of the first complications to be maneuvered for instance, was simply finding a place to live — which is harder than you might think from long-distance and in a mega-city like London, England. The whole episode parallels, in my mind, the plot of one of my favorite old movies: The African Queen.
Rose: We came down the Ulanga — the Bora, you call it down here.
(All three officers look at each other — and back at Rose.)
Officers (together): But that is impossible!
Our cell phones met at a pinpoint in orbit. House-hunting in London was tough when the Columbia River was closer than the Thames. Romantic they may be, both rivers are full of unexpected twists and sudden currents. And in the spring of 2010, as we negotiated our way through a sticky situation while on opposite sides of the globe, it felt like we were plummeting down the rapids toward a three-hundred foot drop off.
For weeks, Dale was stoking the boiler like mad, keeping our hopes afloat and the engine running. He was determined to find us a new home in the old world but “available” properties were either unacceptable or unavailable. Meanwhile, I was clinging to the rudder for dear life—straining through the spray to see what was coming round the bend.
Charlie: How’d you like it?
Rose: Like it?
Charlie: White water rapids!
Rose: I never dreamed…
Charlie: I don’t blame you for being scared – not one bit. Nobody with good sense ain’t scared of white water…
Not only could we not find a place in greater London, we couldn’t agree on priorities. Though we were verbally self-sacrificing we knew each other’s hearts too well: he wanted covered parking and a stand-alone shower and I just had to have windows and light. I began to think that none of it really mattered since there was no place to “let” in Surrey anyway. Disappointment upon disappointment…frustration after frustration…we were caught in a landlord’s market; an eddy with no escape.
Rose: The whole thing is like a fever dream, isn’t it?
Charlie: All the channels we’ve lost—an’ the the twistin’ we’ve done—we may come back where we started—if we come out at all.
Rose: We’ve always followed the current, dear—what little there is.
Meanwhile, Dale’s time in London was running out and the precipice was approaching. We made a desperate offer on a property that represented a major compromise for us both. The deal fell apart. It was 2:30 a.m. for me and he was at the airport about to board. This was it. Like the scene in African Queen when Rose and Charlie have exhausted themselves navigating the the Ulanga and have no other option but to lie down and die in the Belgian Congo, we hung up and cried.
Rose: Dear Lord, We’ve come to the end of our journey, and in a little while we’ll stand before you. I pray for you to be merciful. Judge us not for our weaknesses, but for our love and open the doors of heaven for Charlie and me.
Minutes after our sad conversation, the screenplay of the African Queen began inexplicably to run through my head. I came upon the scene of the little steamer, entangled in a jungle marsh; the bodies of Charlie and Rose prostrate on the deck, as motionless as their boat. The camera sails higher and higher until we can we see what they cannot: the lake—the big, open lake that has been their destination all along—is just yards away. Overnight, clouds gather and explode, swelling the river and setting the African Queen on her way.
I bolted out of bed and dove back into the on-line real estate market. And there it was: our miracle. An exquisite flat in the very complex and location we’d dared not hope for—posted only minutes before. In the spirit of “snatch and grab it” and with the help of friends there I’d yet to meet, the place was basically ours by the time Dale landed in Chicago.
Charlie: What happened?
Rose: We did it, Charlie, we did it!..
Charlie: Well I’ll be… Are you all right, Rosie?
Rose: Never better. And you, dear?
Charlie: All right!
Rose: I’m all turned round, Charlie. Which way is the south shore?
Charlie: The one we’re swimming towards, old girl!…
HINT OF ROMANCE:
Real romances with happy endings are always underwritten by Faith and Optimism. Keep them alive no matter what.
Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win! All thoughtful commenters on this blog between now and 11:59m PST February 28, 2020 will be entered in a RANDOM.ORG drawing a Valentine’s Ice Cream Date!
5 LIES WE TELL BRIDES
AND THE 5 TRUTHS THAT SAVE WIVES
In this entertaining, eye-popping, easy-read Ramona reveals the five misconceptions that may have gotten your marriage started on less-than perfect footing, as well as the five wife-saving truths that will turn things around in a thrilling way! FREE DOWNLOAD
Don’t waste one more day feeling unsure, insecure, confused, or alone!
LEARN MORE ABOUT
Our trial has been the questioning of the faith that we grew up in. It seemed like treacherous path to go down, but through many people’s prayer have been helping him/us to increase our faith again. We still have a ways to go, but it was an uncertain time.
Ramona, I love your film references! My husband and I had to employ some real faith and optimism when we tried to get pregnant 5 years ago. Time after time and obstacle after obstacle made it seem daunting. And then our “break through to the lake” was getting pregnant with twins without any medical intervention! Five years later, our little boys fill our home with a craziness we wouldn’t trade for the world (just some peace and quiet, on occasion!) I am better at the faith and he is better at the optimism, but together we’ve made it through a lot so far. Thanks for your reminders of what is most important.
Looking for our first home for a almost a year this past year was what tried our faith and optimism. Yet we both would buoy each other up when one was down and we limped together to the finish line! We got a home and feel a renewed strength in our marriage of yet another thing him and I can conquer together as a team!
Faith and optimism can be hard to hang on to, especially in hard times. I guess as we keep them in our mind, we are more likely to do/remember them.
What an experience you had! Things do work out in the end, maybe not as we wanted, or perhaps even better, but we do learn and grow from the situations. So, to try and keep the faith and optimism in a higher being, in one’s spouse, and in one’s self.
Our faith and optimism are being tested right now, too. We finally decided to make the jump- live our dream and uproot our family from the city and take them out to the country, almost four hours away from where we were living. Well, my husband tore apart our old house to remodel it and is still trying to get it back together. He is also finishing up his work in our old city and doesn’t have work lined up here yet. So we have been separated now for about 8 months and it’s getting hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The kids and I don’t see him much and we don’t talk on the phone much because he’s busy and in work mode. It’s hard on a relationship. He needs money to fix up our old house so he keeps working, but he also needs time to work on it, which is scarce. Through prayers and tears I have realized this might be just what we need to build our struggling relationship. We are realizing how much we have together and how much we want to be a family. We have to fight for it.
“Fight” sounds like the right word in your case, Jeni. Lots to sort out there. But regardless of how you choose to move forward, FAITH and OPTIMISM have to be the underlying principles. If you feel those waning to the point of desperation, it’s a sure sign that something’s gotta change. xo
Thank you, Ramona! I know you have so many comments to answer each day. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my comment and give me hope. I will hold onto FAITH- belief without seeing- and optimism?
Right now, we are at a loss of what to do. New employment or try for advancement? Stay here for the boys to remain in this school, or move far away to separate from a nefarious girlfriend of son #2? Keep trying for the dream job (teaching scriptures to kids) or just “be realistic”? We keep praying, counseling together and with God, and trying to remember all that’s good will eventually be revealed. It’s quite a bit if work, but worth every minute.
I love the article and so appreciate your work. My husband and I have had our shares of challenges that seemed impossible. “Nevertheless…”
I need to remember that faith and optimism needs to play into every day.
So true, Genevieve. EVERY day, not only every crisis! xo
I love when you use old movies as references, because I’m an old movie fan. 🙂 There have been many times in our almost 25 years of marriage that Faith and optimism have seen us through…not least of which when we tried for five years to have a baby, praying and praying, and then two beautiful baby girls came into our lives one after the other through the gift of adoption.
Faith in God gives us peace, and optimism gives us hope!
Oooo love that, Rosemary! Faith in God gives us peace, and optimism gives us hope! Appreciate you so much. xo
Faith and optimism have seen us through many growth experiences in our almost 30 years of marriage. The one that comes to mind is holding our family together as our oldest son was sucked into a life of addiction and crime that culminated in a four year prison term. It took all our hearts and hopes to keep our son connected to our family while still nurturing and supporting our three younger children. Once we knew he and we were going to make it through, we added baby number five to our family, our last! Thank You Ramona! I realize remembering the challenges of the past that have allowed us to grow closer together and stronger as a couple kindles the faith and optimism necessary to meet the challenges of today.
Our oldest son and his vivacious wife just celebrated their first wedding anniversary and are living a good stable life.
This week my husband and I are going to cuddle up on the couch and watch The African Queen.
Michelle, this so touched me, I read it out loud to Dale. He too was stunned. “Save that somewhere special,” he said, “and go back to it whenever you are discouraged by your work.” Thank you SO much, Michelle, for taking the time to share your history. SO inspiring. xo
You know as I lay on the bed in our stateroom, for a cruise it seemed to take forever to get to I’m filled with optimism and faith in God to get us to whatever our next journey will be. After 29 years together we have weathered soooo many storms. Losses, life, hardships, happiness, gains, and mostly our love. As I look at the man I chose as mine forever and the brightness of the eyes of my kids, I am ever optimistic that God will continue to guide and protect us from all things.