One great thing about life is that many people have “already done it” and have experience we can learn from. In this series I’ve asked people about key lessons they’ve learned about marriage. I hope it helps you have an even better marriage.
A really short interview with Christine McGrail
Chris Goodchild: How did you meet Bruce and when did you get married?
Christine McGrail: We first met at a coffee club but got to know each other attending the same church youth events. We got married in 1972 at 21 years of age, after dating for just 6 months.
CG: Could you tell us a little about your family background?
CM: I was the third child of four. Coming from a farming background in New Zealand I grew up milking cows and moving home every three years with the herd. That was until my parents started a city funeral business. At thirteen I went to live with my Grandmother for my high school years, only going home for the holidays.
CG: Could you give us a brief overview of your career-path?
CM: I left school to attend nursing training and after registering I started work in an outpatients laboratory. Bruce and I moved to England for three years involved in music mentoring by which time I was looking after our first child. Back in NZ, when our second child went to school, I took up a part time job training nurses for a medical company then got involved in research work for premature babies. I eventually became a senior staff nurse for a day-stay unit in the Endocrinology Department, where I am today.
CG: You’ve come through some rough times together; what are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
CM: Communication. We struggled as both our parents were shocking at talking honestly, with little openness and vulnerability. Affirming your absolute commitment to your marriage in words and actions helps provide that feeling of safety. You worry less that being honest will rock the boat and create unnecessary tension or worse, unsettle the bond of togetherness you believe you have. It has been rewarding to see the progress we’ve made.
It’s important we meet our spouse’s emotional needs adequately so they are less vulnerable to connecting with someone else who may provide enough of their unmet needs. I partially failed at this which, alongside unresolved childhood issues and work pressures, created an easier journey along the pathway of betrayal for my husband. Real communication regarding each other’s needs and the awareness of our personality types and love languages – what actually counts as emotional banking into each other’s heart – could have affair-proofed our relationship somewhat.
CG: So what would you say are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt?
CM: I learnt that forgiveness is imperative as imperfection is real. We must give each other room to be human within the context that growth and change is not an unrealistic expectation.
The more things you have in common and get to experience together the stronger the glue that connects you both. And kindness, it sounds boring but it releases invisible magic, the wand that overlooks and diminishes the hurtful words and actions of the imperfect other!
CG: Thank you Christine for sharing with us. I’m sure this will bring encouragement to people going through difficult times now. Candy and I are looking forward to seeing you both here in the UK soon!
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