On July 12, 2015, I married my best friend after having really only known him for eighteen months. Insert surprise emoji face! You would think making one of the biggest decision of your life, one you literally have to live with daily would require a little more preparation. It still amazes me how God brought us together from opposite sides of the earth, literally, and we have actually enjoyed every day-in and day-out with each other. If you haven’t read it yet you can read our dating story here.
At a time when people are getting married after years of living together and long engagements our story is by far not the norm for millennials and these reflections will be quite “odd” and maybe “old school” to several of you reading this. As always I hope that our story inspires you or at least brings you a laugh or two.
Not safe but good…
One of my favorite books growing up was The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis.
Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion. “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Although the Lion in this novel is symbolic for Christ, I find this to be true of marriage as well. So many millennials are afraid of marriage, because its results are not something we can control. We cannot control the outcome because the outcome involves not just our commitment to our spouse but our spouse’s commitment to us. For some people their past relationship experiences may even create a self doubt that they can live up to the commitment required in marriage. In our years of marriage, I’ve had days where I have been hurt or frustrated enough to want an “out” and have even verbalized it. Not recommended by the way. Though our future careers, children, standard of living, relationships with in-laws, hometown, hobbies, and health were not guaranteed or known and still are not, I believed God has ordained marriage and it was “very good”.
And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:22-24
Even up until the very moment I was about to walk down the aisle, my dad was very clear that I still had the option to not go forward in marrying Tom. Don’t take this the wrong way. My dad respected Tom and gave him permission to marry me months before, but he also is a father who has always empowered me to do what I felt was best. He, married once before my mother, probably wanted me to realize the weight of the decision. And in the moment I did feel pressure (some from the weight of all $$$ he spent on the wedding if I did back out) but that the covenant I was about to make was not just between Tom and myself, but one with God Himself. It was almost paralyzing so much so that I have never shared this part of our story with anyone except Tom. Yes, I was able to have peace (and a little naiveté) to look back at my dad and smile with a yes on walking down the aisle. I knew that it ultimately wasn’t about whether I felt confident or prepared for marriage. It was about an order created well before my life-time and a covenant that would be held not just between two young, imperfect people, but one held by a good and perfect God who had captured our single hearts and brought us together as he had done for Adam many, many years before. If God saw it fitting to bring us together then we ought to see to keeping the covenant, even on the days when it is “worse”.
Benefit of the Doubt…
-a concession that a person or fact must be regarded as correct or justified, if the contrary has not been proven- Google dictionary
I’m pretty sure all marriage conflicts would never even arise if this was lived out by both individuals on a consistent basis. Coming from being the oldest of two girls, I’m still learning the male mind. I’m often envious of girls who have brothers, because I feel like they have an early advantage of learning how the male mind was created and functions. I am so thankful that Evelyn Paige will have Warren to grow up with and learn from. (Plug: to all boy mom’s for advice of raising a boy) Tom was the middle of two brothers. Sometimes in marriage we just “miss each other” in communication and in physical affection signals purely from a male/female mindset difference. Personality and learned communication patterns play into this some, but we have both felt “disrespected” or “undervalued” by the other without that being the intention. It’s so easy for me to want to react either in defense of my true intention if I have said something that has disrespected him or if I feel undervalued then I want to him to know it and change his statement.
I’m a fighter. It is not good you all. If I was super political I might say the feminist movement might have influenced this or maybe it’s just me wanting to be right…either way it never pushes me to understanding my spouse better and it creates more conflict than there was from the misunderstanding. So I encourage you to learn from my big fat flaw and learn to not jump to conclusions about the words or actions of your spouse, but to give him/her the benefit of the doubt and ask for clarity without defensiveness. Tom has taught me that asking is ok. Seeking understanding is a gift that he has and has made him a humble learner. #beliketom #submityourwin #diffuseconflict
Sometimes your position on the team changes…
Though this scenario may be true of many marriages, it’s especially true of a medical marriage. I’ve seen so many posts on social media and heard from so many women/men in medical marriages that they feel like their career goals or dreams are put on hold while their spouse is pursing his/hers. I get it. After spending thousands of dollars, almost a decade, and lots of energy into building a resume, networking, and practicing, you feel ready and a little entitled to continue growing those skills. I taught at and then ran a homeschool cooperative overseas for seven years before I got married. I had years of ministry experience, learned a foreign language, fixed my own leaky sinks, took masters degrees classes, and new my ideal “Right Path” career choices. I am currently a stay at home mom of a 14 month old, due with our second child in two months, and building a small business, but mostly I’m a mom that changes diapers and prepares meals for my husband. And I love it! Ok maybe not the diapers when its comparable to wrangling a small calf or going grocery shopping for a paleo diet on a budget, but most days I am very content with where the Lord has us.
Our position on the team may not be “starter” position or even the best fit position for our personality. I know we are on a budget, but I am just not a coupon-er. Tom’s not a yard guy, but until we have enough $ to pay a lawn service, he has to help mow 3/4 an acre while completing medical school rotation and commuting.
It is a choice to be content with not using my education degree daily or being a part of the big project of the new international school being planted that I dreamed about and worked toward for years. Contentment isn’t giving up on dreams or settling. Just because something doesn’t come naturally, doesn’t give us the excuse not to do it or learn from it. And sometimes we may learn but still not be excellent. There is a belief out there that we have to be the star player in every position or we need to get out of the position or switch teams…and quickly. Consider that maybe we are in a position to support and not to excel or at the very least (most) be humbled and molded into a more empathetic and loving human.
I choose to find the moments we are IN satisfying and energizing to my soul because THIS season is the one we are in at the moment and it too quickly will change. There will be other seasons where my husband is working even longer shifts or my babies are grown or we can take an exotic vacation or my business requires more training or we are caring for aging parents. My position will change. His will too. We have a choice to play our position on the team well enough that it benefits the team or to play it for my own ambitions and hinder our team from thriving. Personally I want our team to WIN. I care more about supporting my husband in pursing his career calling, because frankly it is lot better growing together through the teamwork with my best friend then going at an individual dream alone. In the end I’m not sure it will matter if I was a good cook or built a profitable fortune 500 or if he was a successful surgeon and brought home the bacon, but it will matter if we were faithful with what we had been given and loved others well.