My husband and I used to joke about the Starbucks located on every corner of downtown Chicago. Now we tease that there's a cornfield on every corner in the rural area we moved to a year ago.
While it's humorous now, it didn't start that way. In fact, it was in one of those cornfields that we had a marital meltdown.
We were house hunting around a small town in southern Illinois. My husband, Bobby, took a wrong turn, and suddenly we were winding along a gravel road, surrounded by tall stalks. We were in the middle of nowhere. And I knew I didn't want to make this move.
"Out here, you'd never know we're only a short drive from St. Louis," Bobby said with nervous laughter.
I didn't find that funny. At all.
"This is where you're making me move?" I shrieked. "To the middle of a cornfield?!"
He cut short the house-hunting expedition and we headed back to our hotel in silence.
I can't believe this is happening, I thought. I can't believe I agreed to this move!
Weeks earlier Bobby had been offered a great promotion with his company, something he'd worked three years toward. But it required moving. Bobby was excited about the opportunity, and I knew I needed to support him. So I resigned from my job and started making plans to move.
I thought I could handle the change. Until I saw only cornstalks—completely opposite of Chicago's skyline. As we entered the hotel room, I dumped on Bobby all the misery that had been building. "Clearly you've made a mistake," I told him. "There's no way we can move here!"
Bobby slumped on the bed. "I had no idea this would cause you so much pain," he said quietly.
I wanted to leave the town and never turn back. Instead, I settled for getting out of the room. I threw on my running clothes and headed outside.
As I ran, I focused on the sidewalk, putting one foot in front of the other. My anger disappeared as I struggled for every breath. I tried to push myself. I didn't even care about the move anymore; I just wanted to finish the run.
Soon I found myself on a street lined with run-down houses. Guilt swept over me. We'd spent the day looking at nice houses in safe neighborhoods. I'd become so busy throwing a pity party that I'd forgotten our many blessings.
Then I remembered a season of change that had occurred for Bobby several years earlier, when he left his job, friends, and family in Tennessee to move to Chicago where I'd landed a job. He gave up the life he'd established so we could end our long-distance dating. It was my dream of writing that had led us to Chicago. He supported that dream—and me—by packing up and going to an unfamiliar place.
I knew it was my turn to sacrifice. I also knew I needed to trust that God works things for his purpose even when life takes me by surprise.
Back at the hotel, I opened the door and apologized for losing my temper. "I'd rather be here with you than in Chicago by myself," I told Bobby. "You are where my home is."
Relief spread across his face. "Thank you," he said. "That means a lot. It's good to hear you say you're committed to me, even though our marriage is taking you to a place you don't want to be."
There's a big difference between moving somewhere when you're single and moving somewhere together as a couple. The dynamics are more complicated, and the risks greater. Now that we know how the process can work, we've made a commitment to ask more probing questions the next time we consider a change. Is the new place an area where both of us can thrive? How will a move impact our jobs, friendships, and long-term goals? How much do we know about what the new area offers?
I have a feeling this won't be the last time we move—or face an unexpected situation in our marriage. But I know that whatever comes, we've achieved a deeper commitment to each other in facing the future together.
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