Category - communication

What I’ve Learned in Two Years of Marriage

Somehow, some way, a bit over twenty-four months have passed while I’ve been doing this marriage thing. What the pez!? You’ll recall I shared some of the lessons learned after one year of being hitched, and I thought it would be important to reflect again now that we’ve hit another milestone. I’m not sure how the first couple years are supposed to be, or tend to be. Are we still in the “honeymoon stage”? Are we past it? Are we unique in any way? Are we like every other young married couple at this stage? I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter.

Here’s what I do know. We’re doing great. I can say that without even the slightest qualification. And I’m so thankful for it and don’t take it for granted. My love for her is definitely growing stronger, not plateauing or weakening in any way. I shared in a letter I wrote to her before I went to Ireland this summer that I catch myself feeling increasingly vulnerable in terms of my love for her. Like, I’m losing control, like she has this power over me that makes me feel all liquefied inside. Not always, but definitely when I’m missing her a ton, or thinking about her in the midst of exhaustion or loneliness or work struggles.

At those times, if I were to let the emotions completely overcome me, I feel I would turn into a blubbery mess. Because in that moment, I want her, I need her, I love her so painfully much. I don’t allow my mind or feelings to go there, but that’s what marriage and doing life with her has done to me 🙂

But you’re not here to read about that. Let’s talk about what I have learned. Allow me to structure this in terms of two things I say to myself on a consistent basis. That will most profoundly illustrate how my thinking and my living have been affected.

“It doesn’t really matter.”

I say this a lot in my head. Early on, a handful of things bugged me. In my mind, she loads the dishwasher a little inefficiently. Almost every day, the floor and counter would have one or two small sticky spots from her cooking or making tea or something (I really hate stickiness. Really.)   She takes a while to do something that I would have already knocked out. She’s a couple minutes late getting ready when we’re off to be somewhere on time. Stuff like that.

But in the grand scheme of things, I have learned that it’s not a big deal.

And I believe she is doing her best and is well aware of what might annoy me, and I need to leave it at that.

She’s a separate person with a separate way of doing things, and it’s totally fine. It’s not fair for me to expect her to do everything in the exact same way as I would, at the exact same speed. Preserving harmony in the marriage takes precedent. “Us” is always more important than “me.” And seriously, I’m sure she bites her tongue every day when it comes to my idiosyncrasies and annoying habits. I wouldn’t want to do life with me. I’m so thankful she does. Being so intimately acquainted with my faults, it’s actually kind of miraculous.

Remember that the other person is doing their best. They are not trying to annoy you or irritate you in the least bit.

For those in long-term relationships or marriages, try to tell yourself often that “it doesn’t really matter.” There are very few hills you should die on. Yes, have convictions about the important things – the things that reflect integrity and industriousness and wisdom and kindness and faith – but try to let go about the comparatively trivial things. Remember that the other person is doing their best. They are not trying to annoy you or irritate you in the least bit. They are trying each day to be all you need them to be. And you should be thankful for all of the ways they are patient and gracious and ever-loving with you.

“Only one thing is necessary.”

I say this to myself a lot too. And it helps me to be a better person, which in turn helps me to be a better husband. It’s from Luke 10:42, when sisters Mary and Martha are hosting Jesus. Martha is running around the house trying to manage life and responsibilities and appearances and demands. Mary is just hanging out with the Lord, getting to know Him and His heart, and finding her worth and value in Him. And when Martha complains about Mary not helping her with all she has going on, Jesus lovingly admonishes Martha and praises Mary’s singular devotion and choice with the words, “Only one thing is necessary.”

It’s true. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in trying to stay on top of life. And pursuing that goal has the side-effect of pushing out my pursuit of God and my pursuit of Rachel. I start to think that sweeping the floor, or writing another paper, or preparing for tax season, or organizing my closet is more important right now than them. But they aren’t. Ever. Those tasks always come in second to the way I love my Lord and the way I love my wife. I’m not saying you have to let those things go; rather, you should make sure that your good intentions to get things done doesn’t undermine the best possible relationship you could ever have.

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in trying to stay on top of life. And pursuing that goal has the side-effect of pushing out my pursuit of God and my pursuit of Rachel.

I find this extremely tough. I hate mistakes and I hate problems because they get in the way of me living how I want each day (I do realize this is dysfunctional and selfish and prideful and controlling). And so I do all I can to avoid them by laboring in ways that prevent their possible occurrence. I’m always thinking ahead. I spray for bugs just in case we have a random infestation. I trim palm trees to keep them from possibly knocking down a gutter. I plan for old age. I maintain proper tire pressure in our vehicles. I stay on top of mail and bills and filing paperwork. There is always something else to do. Always. I’m never caught up the way I want to be. Ever.

But all of this takes so much time, time that I could be – and should be – giving to God and my wife. Obviously, I’m supposed to be a good steward, and take care of the domain over which He’s give me ownership. But I clearly need to trust Him more to hold everything together and not let the bottom fall out (which is fundamentally what I am afraid of). I’m trying. It’s going to be impossible for me to keep this up when we have children. I just have to trust more. And do less. And give myself to my most important relationships above all else.

It’s going to be impossible for me to keep this up when we have children. I just have to trust more. And do less. And give myself to my most important relationships above all else.

That’s it. Pretty simple, actually. There are so many lists in books and online with top tips for relationships and dating and marriages, but all of that can be subsumed under two succinct phrases for me: “it doesn’t really matter” and “only one thing is necessary.” Or, as Stephen Covey has said, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I feel like when I’ve concentrated my energies on living out these two overarching statements, everything else falls into place. Not perfectly (because we are broken people in a broken world), but pretty dang well – and marked by a good measure of peace, harmony, and even joy. That is all I want as Rachel and I enjoy each other’s love, laughter, and companionship, and team up to accomplish epic things for His people, purposes, and renown.

What My Pregnant Wife Needs From Me

pregnant wife needs
My wife Rachel is six months pregnant with our first child, and we’d both tell you that we’re enjoying this uniquely special time in our lives.  Part of me wishes Baby were here already so I could play with it.  It’s like, come on already, I want to hold you and cuddle you and love you to pieces!  The other part of me understands we need this to stretch out to the right number of weeks so Baby is as healthy as possible.  Rachel helps me keep things in perspective, and has a very mature and thoughtful outlook on this entire process.  This is probably because she’s spent a lot of time learning and researching about pregnancy and birth and newborns and motherhood over the last year, and I have spent a lot of time watching sports. 

Pregnancy hasn’t been a breeze.  I guess it’s probably not a breeze for anyone, ever.  Rachel had a really rough first fifteen weeks marked by a whole lot of nausea and vomiting, and it made me feel so helpless, and – yes – partly to blame.  When I could hear her in the bathroom hunched over the toilet sobbing and throwing up and coughing and spitting, I was like “I did this to her, this is my fault!”  But I understood that sometimes morning sickness happens, and she understood it too, and we got through it.  She was seriously such a champ in riding out the first trimester with such a good attitude.  I tried to love her well then, and seeing her “take one for the team” has inspired me to redouble my efforts to keep doing so.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) Rachel needs to feel emotionally safe.  Even more emotionally safe than ever before.  What she is going through is – to put it bluntly – traumatic.  It is.  You have something growing inside of you. You’re always thinking about it.  And if you stop for a moment to get back to doing life, it reminds you by taking from you – oxygen, food, and all kinds of energy and thought.   Or by kicking you.  All of this tires you out, runs you down, and leaves you very feeling very vulnerable.  Plus, if it’s your first baby, all of these feelings are so new and you get freaked out really easily.  The insides of your body are stretching and straining, hormones and chemicals are rising and falling and basically going haywire, and you have random weird pains all over your abdomen and nether regions.  It’s super scary. Mommy has no clear idea what all is going on inside of her, and just wants Baby to be okay.  I want that too as Daddy, but I’m not experiencing all of the super heavy physical and emotional stuff that Mommy is. 

It’s super scary. Mommy has no clear idea what all is going on inside of her, and just wants Baby to be okay.

And so I have to be extra thoughtful and sensitive in what I say, and how I say it.  I don’t want to pile on to her emotional load in any way, but instead just want to help her offload some of it onto my shoulders by being supportive, understanding, super patient, and simply a great listener and friend to her.  I need to avoid coming across as judgmental or questioning her decisions or choices (Note to self: don’t say stuff like “Chinese takeout and froyo AGAIN tonight?”). I need to reassure her in subtle and obvious ways that she’s physically beautiful and altogether lovely, that I’m always going to be here through thick and thin (you know what I mean), and that I’m strong enough to love her and keep pursuing her heart through all of these changes. 

In this environment, she can rest against the stability I provide.  She can let her guard down and just be herself without having to fake it.  And she can keep her own heart soft without having to harden it simply to get through.  Honestly, don’t we all want to live and love and grow in an environment like this? It’s freeing.

It’s nurturing. 
It’s without condition. 
It’s how family should always, always be.

2) Rachel needs practical help with her responsibilities and tasks, and I need to be available and eager to pitch in.  Before pregnancy, we sort of both knew our roles in terms of who took care of what.  Of course, we’d always offer the other a hand, but I’d say that we had a good system in place to avoid unnecessary stress and stay on top of life (as much as is humanly possible).  Since pregnancy, I just have to do a lot more.  Rachel would love to contribute in exactly the same ways as she did before, but on some days she physically and emotionally cannot.  She just can’t. 

I need to not think to myself, “Dangit, I’m totally exhausted too, and now I have to do all of these other things as well?!??!”

I need to not think to myself, “Dangit, I’m totally exhausted too, and now I have to do all of these other things as well?!??!” or “What the pez, she’s been lying on the couch all afternoon and we have so much to knock out!” or “Holy crap man, we just stopped for a bathroom eight minutes ago and she needs me to stop again!” I need to think to myself, “Wake up, you shortsighted goober. Remember the promises you made at the altar.  Your wife is contributing in gigantic ways every minute, every hour, every day by CARRYING YOUR CHILD IN HER WOMB.”

Rachel is shouldering pretty much everything in this pregnancy.  I did very little to start the proverbial ball rolling, and I’m doing pretty much nothing to feed or take care of Baby over these nine months.  I haven’t read any books on parenting yet, nor have I gone to any newborn-related classes.  I haven’t even built a crib.  I will do those things, but I haven’t yet.  My contribution so far has been like 1%. 

When we were dating, I didn’t love her best by focusing on her needs.  I loved her best by catching glimpses of her wants and surprising her with them.  The things that made her eyes light up, or made her burst out into laughter, or made her heart melt.

And so I need to keep my eyes open for ways I can serve her.  And not just when she asks, but sometimes before she asks.  And not just tackling things so her needs are met, but also working to remember her wants.  When we were dating, I didn’t love her best by focusing on her needs.  I loved her best by catching glimpses of her wants and surprising her with them.  The things that made her eyes light up, or made her burst out into laughter, or made her heart melt.  That stuff matters so much, and conveys love more powerfully and reassuringly than anything else because it reminds her that she isn’t an obligation or a responsibility, but a joyous treasure.  Now even more than before, I should meet not just her needs, but also her wants. 

This takes hard work. And time. And a lot of intentional thoughtfulness.  And margin. If I’m doing life at 100% (or 110% – which is my norm) I am going to be irritable and annoyed when she needs me.  And this has happened (although I hope she hasn’t noticed it because I try to push it down and always do the noble thing). I need to allocate space – and purposefully make more space – in my life to have room to be thoroughly patient and loving at all times. 

If I’m doing life at 100% (or 110% – which is my norm) I am going to be irritable and annoyed when she needs me.  And this has happened.

I’m thinking I need to do this so much more over the last three months of pregnancy. Because it’s going to get harder as she gets more uncomfortable in her own skin. I need to be ready. I’m spending way less time on Twitter and Instagram, even for work purposes.  I’m following my favorite sports team less (which is a singular joy to me, like food or conversation or Netflix is to others).  But these are small potatoes. These matter so little, comparatively speaking, to what lies before Rachel and me. These, and other matters, are going to fade in importance as Baby gets ready to burst onto the scene.

I’m ready to rise up and be the husband I’m called to be. These aren’t just words. I know I have a strength deep down given to me from God to do this.  I haven’t done it perfectly, and I know I will fall a bit short as these months elongate in front of us before we can celebrate Baby’s birth. But I’m determined to do my best.  I mean, what is more important in life than this?  When I consider all of the other out there that vie for my attention and affection, nothing should even come close to the priority of my marriage – and the miracle of the blessing being formed and finished inside my bride.

When I Foolishly Choose Me over Us

leaving rachel in the dust
Recently, Rachel and I took a train from London to the East coast of England so that we could walk the White Cliffs of Dover.  It was probably my most favorite experience during our entire time backpacking Europe, only because everything that day was so beautiful – the weather (partly cloudy and breezy, with great lighting for pictures), the cliff’s edge, the wildflowers, the rolling hills, the castle in the distance – it was almost too much to take in.  We had a wonderful day together, walking, talking, posing for photos, stopping at a lighthouse where we had tea, biscuits, and jam in an old English tea room, and exploring a place we’d never been before and may never visit again.  However, I could have really ruined the entire day by doing something I am prone to do, and something I’ve done before.

rachel and sameer by cliffs

We had put in a solid seven miles or so hiking around.  And we were both pretty exhausted.  And we had experienced the best of the Cliffs, and now had to hike back the way we came.  My feet hurt, and I am sure Rachel’s did too.  And we were sweating because the wind had died down and the sun was now beating down on us.  We weren’t saying much to each other, simply because we were dead tired.  And honestly, we both just wanted to get back to the main station so we could board our train, sit down, and rest during the two-hour ride back to London.  We were just putting one foot in front of the other, and making progress.

We had put in a solid seven miles or so hiking around.  And we were both pretty exhausted.  And we had experienced the best of the Cliffs, and now had to hike back the way we came.  My feet hurt, and I am sure Rachel’s did too.  And we were sweating because the wind had died down and the sun was now beating down on us.

At one point, I tried to hitchhike along a side road in the hopes that someone would take us by car back to the train station.  But no one stopped for us.  So in my mind I was annoyed, but not at Rachel – just at the situation.  I knew we just had to suck it up and take the long way back.  And so that is what we did.  However, on my mind was the train schedule, and I really wanted us to get there as fast as possible so that we could take the earliest train out.  It left at a certain time every two hours, and if we missed the one I wanted, we’d have to sit around for such a long time before being able to get another one.  And again, I just wanted to get home.  And so I walked fast along the trail.  In front of Rachel.  And it happened that I was walking much faster than her, and so that put a good distance between her.  When I realized this, I stopped, and waited for her.  But then when she caught up, I would start walking again – faster than her – and again realized a few minutes later that I was way in front of her.  And so I stopped again, and patiently waited for her to catch up.  And then I was off again.  And the scenario repeated itself.

dover lighthouse

I don’t know what I was thinking.  Clearly, I wasn’t.  I was just on auto-pilot, determined to get to where I was going, determined to set the pace, and hell-bent on getting to the train station as soon as it was humanly possible to do so.  In retrospect, I had done something similar before, and it had been really stupid of me.  Six years ago, my ex-girlfriend and I flew out to Colorado for “Adventure Week” where – among other things – we were going to camp out and then hike Mt. Bierstadt with friends.  It was a beast of a climb, made even harder by the fact that we didn’t start at the proper trailhead and spent an hour and a half trying to find it.  Eventually, though, we made good progress up the mountain, and stayed together as a group.  And we were having a great time talking, and sharing stories, and bonding through it all.

At some point, though, I thought to myself that I wasn’t really getting a workout at the pace our group was traveling – and really wanted to push my body so that it would get stronger and more physically fit as a result of this hike.  I mean, I didn’t come out to Colorado to take it easy on this trip.  And that meant that I just couldn’t (read: didn’t want to) go as slow as my ex (even though she was absolutely doing her best and going her fastest), because then the hike wouldn’t do my body any good.  (I seriously thought this).  And so I made the decision to just leave her and the rest of the group, pick up my speed, and bound up the trail at my own pace (while still keeping them in my sight-lines).

My motives were not perfectly pure – my priority was getting the most out of the hike for myself, and not on patiently waiting for her and going alongside her, at her speed.

I also remember thinking to myself that maybe I was doing her a favor, because I didn’t want my presence right next to her to put any unnecessary pressure on her to go faster, and make the hike even more difficult (and miserable) than it already was.  But my motives were not perfectly pure – my priority was getting the most out of the hike for myself, and not on patiently waiting for her and going alongside her, at her speed.

I was such a jerk.

Later, she told me that she was really hurt by me leaving her back there while I went far up ahead.  She also said that it made her feel that I was upset at her because she was slowing us down (I wasn’t, but we all know how awful you feel when you think you are making someone else’s life more difficult, and that you’re being a burden to them).  While I really believed I was doing the right thing for me at the time when I walked ahead of her, I realized during our conversation that it was stupid, and selfish, and not loving at all.  I asked her for her forgiveness, and she was very gracious.  And I was so mad at myself for being like that.

You’d think I would have learned from such an experience.  Fast forward to six years later.  I was pretty much doing the same thing.  To my wife.  What on earth was wrong with me?!?!?

Eventually, Rachel and I got to the train station.  And God had worked it out so that we were there right on time to catch one that was leaving soon.  He had always been doing that, the entire trip.  We never got stuck anywhere, we never had to wait too long or be inconvenienced too badly.  I should have trusted Him.  I should have not been so focused on what I needed to do to get us home.  And I should have learned from my previous mistake.

Rachel also said that it prompted all of these unhelpful thoughts in her mind, like “He’s probably really annoyed with me because I’m so slow.”

Rachel and I talked about it later.  She also said she was hurt by my actions, and that she thought I was upset or even mad at her (which was not true in the slightest).  Rachel also said that it prompted all of these unhelpful thoughts in her mind, like “He’s probably really annoyed with me because I’m so slow.” That’s not true at all, but you know the malignant messages that multiply in your mind and beat your spirit down when you feel like you don’t measure up.  We all can relate to that.

And it’s another lesson in communication.  I was giving off certain signals, and she was misinterpreting them, and my behaviors just seemed to confirm what she was then thinking.  We could have just stopped for a moment, gathered ourselves and our emotions, and talked it out.  But we didn’t, and perhaps didn’t know how in that moment.

We could have just stopped for a moment, gathered ourselves and our emotions, and talked it out.  But we didn’t, and perhaps didn’t know how in that moment.

I apologized, because I was in the wrong.  She sees my heart and knew that my intentions were good.  And she was grateful that I would stop periodically and wait for her to catch up – even if she was only 30 seconds behind me.  But she did wish that I would have walked alongside her.  I do too.

What I am learning is that what matters most is the shared experience.  I am so bent towards getting things done and making things happen that I lose sight of that.  Often.  It sucks.  I don’t want to.  Rachel and I were together adventuring through unbelievably gorgeous part of Europe together, and she just wanted me to be with her, in mind, body, and action.  To me, we had fully explored the White Cliffs, gotten refreshments at the lighthouse and seen all there was to see, and now that the highlights were finished, I just wanted to get home.  That task-oriented thought took precedent over absolutely everything.

white cliffs of dover

Thankfully, I didn’t betray irritation with my words or body language.  I remember at a couple of points I wanted her to follow a less-scenic but more expedient pathway to where we needed to go, but she chose otherwise.  She chose beauty over efficiency, she chose the moment over the mission.  I could have said, “Love, can we please go this way so we can get back quicker?” I could have said, “I really think we should try to move faster if we can.”  But I kept my mouth shut and tried to go with the flow.  I wasn’t stressed, and was just like, okay, whatever, if we miss the train, we miss it, and we’ll handle it.  No big deal.  I’m glad for my attitude in that moment.  I could have completely obliterated the beautiful and wonderful day we were having with one curt comment said in a singular moment of tiredness and exasperation.  While not a fatal mistake, that would have been one I regretted for years.

I could have completely obliterated the beautiful and wonderful day we were having with one curt comment said in a singular moment of tiredness and exasperation.

Even though I still messed up, I do see that I am learning.  I do see that I am growing.  I am making progress.  I’m surrendering control.  I’m learning that in life, very, very few things are really worth getting worked up about.  And that everything usually turns out fine in time.  I didn’t need to fret or rush.  I just needed to be okay with however the end of our hike turned out, and however late we ended up finally getting home.  At least I was with my girl, spending time together, making memories, and living out our love.  What more could I possibly want, and what more did I ever hope for in all the years before she came along? She – and her feelings – were, and are, most important, in any situation and context.  I never want to justify or rationalize putting something else first, before her.  Hopefully this time around, the lesson sticks.

Rachel’s Thoughts On Marriage

Sameer and I celebrated our one-year anniversary on May 23rd of this year, and it was spectacular. Our first year has had its bumps and bruises and hiccups, but I am so happy to say that we are even more madly in love now than we were a year ago. I wanted to take some time to write about and share my thoughts on marriage after our first year with you. I think it could be beneficial and amusing to compare and contrast what he has learned with what I have learned. That said, I am fully aware that we are still very inexperienced – so please take these words with a grain of salt.

First, let’s talk about communication.  For our one-year anniversary date, Sameer took me to a place he knew I would love – a nice, upscale French restaurant because I am a “foodie.” You would think he would love this too, but the reality is that he doesn’t care if food tastes really good or not. His motto when it comes to eating is, “Food is fuel.” I find that a little weird and I don’t even know how to reconcile such a perception. Food is a family tradition in my parents’ home. Food brings everyone into the kitchen to nibble and chat. “Food” represents more than just food for me – it is a wonderful shared experience.  Sameer doesn’t think like that, but he does understand that food is important to me. And just like he is learning about how much I delight in deliciousness, he has been teaching me that sports is what he loves instead.

Food is a family tradition in my parents’ home. Food brings everyone into the kitchen to nibble and chat. “Food” represents more than just food for me – it is a wonderful shared experience.

Sameer works very hard and he loves taking time out of his busy schedule to watch his games. It invigorates him like nothing else, besides playing Frisbee. He likes to stay active so he usually stretches or works out or plays guitar while rooting for his teams: the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, and the San Antonio Spurs. He likes the Kansas City Blues too for Ice Hockey, but they aren’t on the same level. (The fact that I know the names and cities of these teams is a minor miracle). (PAUSE, Sameer says it’s the St. Louis Blues, not the Kansas City Blues – clearly I still have more to learn).

Anyway, sports brings him so much joy, just like good food brings me so much joy. And this is something I’ve learned during our first year together that I’d like to share as a practical point with you:  while communication is one of the most important components of a healthy marriage relationship, if you don’t speak the same language about certain topics (i.e. sports, food, relaxation, etc..), you should be creative and look for analogies!

I spontaneously do a little happy dance when I eat something yummy.  And Sameer busts a few moves when his team makes a great play or wins a game.  This shows us that at the root of both is the same feeling of bliss and pleasure. We just happen to enjoy very different things.

I spontaneously do a little happy dance when I eat something yummy.  And Sameer busts a few moves when his team makes a great play or wins a game.  This shows us that at the root of both is the same feeling of bliss and pleasure. We just happen to enjoy very different things, which is completely fine. Investing my time into sports makes Sameer very happy. This was hard for me to do until I realized that sports for Sameer was very much like food for me. It is a lot easier to really get into his passions when I equate them to my own. I get to feel more of what he feels for the games. And he now more fully understands how I feel about meal time, and chooses to love me in many food-related ways because he can empathize with me in my bliss. This realization has been so good for our marriage.

My second point is this: Together, as we submit both our strengths and weaknesses to God and each other, He will use them to knit us together into a holy, happy, healthy unit.

Let me explain with a story.

Sameer: “Fear is not of God!”

Rachel: “Neither is stupidity!”

We weren’t angry with each other. I promise. We were shouting only because of the distance between us and the howling wind around us as we walked along the White Cliffs of Dover on the East coast of England. While sightseeing, Sameer is all about pushing past limits and doing difficult things and getting an “epic shot” with his camera. And often, this involves some sketchy maneuver (in this case, along the cliff’s edge) that is beyond what I would consider to be safe. Thankfully, he heeded my statement and came back to the path. We then began to discuss our innate personality differences, and the need for both his bravery and my prudence when we are adventuring and otherwise doing life together.

I’m naturally very cautious. I am a protector at heart. And I am usually very aware of my surroundings and notice a lot of detail and potential dangers. Sameer sometimes calls me his “voice of reason” and that I’m going to keep our future kids alive with my intuition and tendency towards safety.  I believe that’s true, but even before we have children I definitely have saved Sameer’s life multiple times by paying close attention to oncoming traffic.

I definitely have saved Sameer’s life multiple times by paying close attention to oncoming traffic.

With that said, I know I can also become too cautious. Restricting and controlling every situation is incredibly unhealthy and unwise. Sameer helps yank me out of my comfort zone and into the wild, exhilarating unknown. He encourages me daily to trust God, to push past fear, and to really, fully live. This is one of my favorite things about being married to him. He helps me see situations from a different perspective and fills in where I am lacking. He gives me his strength when I am weak – when my caution or fear might hold us back from the best. In order for this to happen, we must allow each other into those weak places. We have to give each other permission to fill in the gap. This is one of the best things about our partnership.

My last point is this: We are on the same team. I know this sounds so simple and obvious, but when iron sharpens iron, sparks fly. And when we are called, through marriage, to reflect the heart of God toward His people, it will be attacked and distorted. When you feel pressure from your spouse (caused by proximity), your heart will naturally guard itself against them unless you remember that you are both on the same team. There is a friction in marriage that can be used by God to perfect us if we are willing. The friction isn’t comfortable. And though it creates a rawness that feels dangerous, if you fiercely protect your connection with God and listen to His voice and obey Him, He will bring you to a place of vulnerability and humility that ushers in deeper relational intimacy – not only with your spouse, but with God as well.

There is a friction in marriage that can be used by God to perfect us if we are willing.

We must also remember that there is a real enemy. This adversary hates our marriages. He hates connection and intimacy, so that is what he targets. What Sameer and I have found is that Satan tries to deceive us into thinking that our spouse is the enemy. But the truth is that if your spouse is living in the light, as a child of God, they are FOR you. Their intention is not to harm you, but to help you prosper. Just like your intention is for your spouse to prosper.

I know there is much more to learn about doing marriage well. And we have been so blessed to have a few awesome couples in our lives to esteem and emulate in this area. I’m super thankful for the teachable moments thus far, and I just want to remain humble, patient, and focused on growing together. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts, and for the support we continue to receive from those who love us and know our hearts!

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