Today marks 3 Years of being married to my best friend! Time flies when you’re having fun …or working really hard to figure out how exactly you’re gonna do this whole “marriage thing” when you quickly discover that you don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on some things. 😉
I started reflecting over the past three years (which have had their fair share of battles and tears) and realized that in the midst of that, there is so much value! Here are just a few of the reasons I think marriage is awesome. (they may not be exactly what you think!)
You’re challenged in a real and raw way.
When you get married, you commit to having someone who sees how you live and what you do day in and day out… Accountability on a level I have never experienced before. It’s painful really. It took me longer than I care to admit to realize that I had flaws I couldn’t even see… flaws and fears. Fears that were deeply rooted, that I had grown accustomed to living comfortably with. It may not be everyone’s experience, but mine was such that I was forced to lay out those flaws and fears on the proverbial communion table that my husband and I share together. Fears that I’m not worth it. That I’m too fat. That I’m not trying hard enough, or that I’m trying too hard. Fears that I’m wasting my time. Fears that I’m unworthy of love.
And the fears bring defenses.
I have control issues. There. I said it. I like things to be done my way, in the time frame that I’ve set… preferably with labels and a cute little bow to wrap everything up nicely. But guess what, life is messy, and unorganized, and crazy to the point that makes you want to throw in the towel. And it makes for a very messy person once she realizes that life doesn’t always hand you a label-maker and pretty ribbon.
Once I discovered this, I became a crazy person (that’s putting it mildly). Someone who would grasp for any form of “putting it in it’s place” I could get, even to the point of putting my husband “in his place”. And it was ugly. I became a person that my husband didn’t like very much, and I certainly didn’t like, but had no idea how to fix!
In the midst of all the ugliness, I was presented with something I was not prepared for… When I felt unworthy, when I felt like I just could not take any more, in the middle of the dirty, messy, unorganized life and constant, self-assaultment of the picture of this woman I had become, this woman I did not recognize… my husband showed me grace. It’s been tangible you guys. I seriously have not been shown grace by someone (a human being anyways) who knows the very worst parts of me. And, the surprise for me, has been that in this rawness, in the grit and the terrible times when you’re mad at them and they’re frustrated with you, and it feels like nothing will ever truly be settled between you, there is grace. There is hope… and it challenges you to do better, to be better. It encourages you to continue laying out your heart on that table, to be vulnerable, and to show grace back in a way you never thought you could!
You are forced to communicate in ways
that are probably uncomfortable for you.
This probably should go without saying, but men and women communicate in incredibly different ways. I mean, I seriously did not know how true this was until I got married. I did not have brothers, and growing up, my dad was always really great at meeting my sister and I where we were and being able to communicate on an emotional level. So when I married a man who is really awesome at communicating intellectually, but somewhat challenged (not a fault, just the way it is!) at communicating emotionally… this was a hurdle I had not anticipated.
It has been a work in progress… and I have no doubt it will continue to be so. I think knowing that you communicate in different ways is probably the first step towards progress. And the only way to continue and persevere is to spend time with each other, and to use some productive listening techniques (ie: “this is what I heard you say, is that what you were trying to communicate?”) to engage each other and hopefully get to a place where you can at least somewhat be on the same page!
I think my biggest challenge in this has been that I will often have to figure out my own feelings first before being able to effectively communicate my needs with him… and when I got married, I honestly thought this is just something that would happen naturally. It’s natural alright, naturally annoying. I wanted a husband who would know how I was feeling without me even telling him, and be empathetic and ask questions and, you know, share his deepest, most private feelings with me so we can really get to know each other and share our hopes and dreams… instead, I got something better. I got a partner who sees the world similarly (but Oh So Different) than I do! I got a husband who strives to make me happy, and one who has been vulnerable with me, and who, when we finally get on the same page it is incredibly satisfying! It’s hard work to communicate well with your spouse, and the benefit from hard work is being satisfied that you have accomplished something. I’ve been surprised by how rewarding this has been!
You are responsible for helping shape the way
your spouse feels that the world views him.
In the same way that you will feel that you are constantly being measured with a mirror in front of you, you will be responsible for holding up a mirror for your spouse. A mirror that shows not only how he may view himself, but of how you see him, and how the world may see him also. When we first got married I felt like it was my responsibility to make sure my hubby knew exactly what he did wrong and why, so that he wouldn’t make that mistake again (it was, after all, for his benefit right?). yeeeeah, not so much. It was coming from a place of pride and ahem, needing to be in charge (those pesky control issues again!).
The point is, it’s not exactly a responsibility so much as it is an opportunity… You have an opportunity to hold up a mirror that reflects back to him how you see him, which for many of the husband’s I know, is pretty much the most valued opinion for them. You have an opportunity to reflect back how respectable he is, how creative, how smart, how adorable, how handsome, how manly, how good of a father, how sexy, how funny, how gracious, how loving… 😉 you catch my drift?
It has taken me long enough to realize it is not my responsibility to reflect back his “areas needing improvement”… I’m sure he is well aware, as I am, of any areas of his life that could use a little tweaking… but oh the joy to be able to build him up, to encourage him, and continue to show him grace when he may not even have it for himself!
I pray that I would continue to grow in this knowledge of the power I yield as the mirror-holder!
So there it is, nothing too profound. I have enjoyed the challenge of being married to my best friend. Surprising in ways I could not have expected, the challenges are opportunities to grow and to learn and to weave our lives together even deeper and more purposefully.
Happy Anniversary My Love! 🙂