By Sarah Markley: “Are you celebrating your anniversary?” That’s usually the first question.

Yes. We grin and nod, looking at each other.

The next question typically is “How long?”

And then when we say “fifteen years” the looks of amazement follow. Partially because who on earth is married for 15 (continuous) years any longer? And partly because we look a pinch young to have been married that long.

We’ve already expected the third question before it’s asked.

“Twenty-one” we say almost in unison. “We’re thirty-six.”

What we usually don’t share is that we got a second chance at our own marriage seven and a half years ago and that things have been different since then.

The only reason why we’ve been able to stay married that long (with the ridiculous amount of baggage we each carry) is that we’ve worked hard at it. Crazy hard.

Last week, however, we started going back to counseling. For the first time in over six years, I walked back into that therapy room.

The lobby had changed. I sat down in a stiff chair and looked around. They switched out low-pile carpet for hard wood laminate. They updated a few pieces of wall art and there was a new receptionist.

“Are you ready?” Our therapist appeared at the door and ushered us back into the office.

We sat more than a foot away from each other on the sofa {because talking about hard things makes for space that isn’t normally there} I thought:

I shouldn’t be here. We shouldn’t be here.

We should have it together by now. We should have moved beyond needing outside help, right? Aren’t we supposed to be healed?

What am I going to tell the people I try to help in their own marriages? That I’m back in therapy again?

What on earth am I doing here?

It’s humbling. It’s sigh-worthy. And it’s actually a bit embarrassing.

I know what the new questions will be: Did she cheat again? Is he addicted to porn? What horrible thing happened?

The answers to all of those questions are No, No and nothing.

We just need help right now.

And I’m not going to be embarrassed to admit it even if we have to sit on that therapist’s couch every week until we wear a hole into the seat cushions.

God gave us a 2nd chance at marriage, how dare we ask him for a third or a fourth? The truth is, each day we live is a 5,475th chance, and the next day is the 5,476th chance. Our “third chance” at marriage is a fallacy because we live extra chances each day we live and breathe and pay bills together.

It’s not about embarrassment.  Or answering someone else’s probing questions. It isn’t even about the pride we have to swallow to ask for help.  And it certainly isn’t about “using up” any chances we might think God has given us.

But it is about living each day as if it is a new chance for life, for grace and for understanding our need for God.

Can you ask for help when you need it? What stops you?

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