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.
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, 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.
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.
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!