All of this said, I’ve definitely learned a lot. And so I want to share with you some points to ponder along this journey, because many of you will be where I am soon enough. Here’s my first entry, six months from our exchange of vows.
1) I thought I was really good at communication, but I’m definitely not as good as I need to be. For example, I still expect her to read my mind. Seriously. I seriously want her to notice the things that I notice, and be prompted to do what I would do. For instance, I see things that need to be done around the house, and I want her to see those things in exactly the same way I see them, and view the importance of getting them done in exactly the same I view them, and to tackle them with the urgency that I would tackle them. This does not happen. But it’s not her fault. She has been so incredibly loving and giving every single day, and constantly checks in with me to ask if she can help me with anything. But it’s very hard for me to specifically say, ‘please do this’ or ‘please do that’ because then it feels to me like I am ordering her around. And I am just incredibly sensitive to that, and for whatever reason try to avoid that like the plague. It makes me feel so awful inside to tell her what to do. And so really, I just want her to know what I am thinking, and what to do. WHY CAN’T SHE JUST KNOW!!?? I don’t know how to get over this. It’s my own messed-up perception, and has nothing to do with her. So, since it’s so hard for me to verbalize requests because of this weird hang-up of mine, we create To-Do lists in an app called Wunderlist. I think it’s helping…assuming we daily check it when we have a moment free, and are motivated to knock some items off the list in the interest of loving our spouse through such acts of service.
2) Being married requires me to completely understand that there will never come a time where I can love her so very well, and for such an enduring amount of time, that I just can stop and coast for a while. I can’t tell you why I even want to coast for a while. It could be because life is tiring and I always feel like so much is on me to come through in many areas of life. But I do. Maybe every guy feels like that. That’s fodder for another blog post. Anyway, there is no coasting in marriage. Ever. And so I have learned that if I am doing special things to try to make “deposits” in her “love bank” (like date nights, and flowers, and chocolate, and quality time, etc.), I had better be doing it because I can’t help not do it. And for no other reason. If I’m doing it because I want to be able to make “withdrawals” down the road (as extended alone time later, or more time in the office, or more work on my own individual dreams) we have a problem. Rachel wants to support me doing all of those things – and frankly anything that I need to do because she trusts my heart. But she doesn’t want me spending time with her as a favor to her, just to get her to grant me favors of what I want. She wants me to do everything out of an unadulterated affection and passion for her. And she wants to do things for me out of the same motivation. A marriage relationship does not and cannot be transactional. It must involve generous and selfless actions with pure motives, no expectation of return, and no expiration date. I am learning this. But it is hard work. People need to know this before they commit, on a visceral level. And they should be ready for it, as much as possible.
3) Relationships take an absolute ton of time. Really, so much. And I am so grateful that God helped me to put in years and years of hard work before Rachel came along so that I could be in a really good place when it came to discipline, and character, and responsibility, and sacrifice, and all these other personal characteristics which – while I was learning them at the time – felt pointless and just another reminder that life was brutal. And so now, even though I obviously need to continue to grow and improve in a bunch of areas, there is much frustration and stress that we are protected from because I co-endeavored with the Lord to be prepared as much as I could. It was often begrudgingly, and I wish my attitude was better during that very long season of my life, but He was gracious to me and understood my pain. And it was such a gift, I can’t express how grateful I am for it. I guess this is just another reminder to those single to try to embrace your own season of preparation even when it gets really, really hard and really, really lonely. Your dreamboat will come along. It will happen. Just get yourself ready as best as you can.
4) The biggest mistakes I make are the ones with my mouth. We know what James says about the impossibility of taming the tongue. I wish I was perfect in this area. And you guys know me, I don’t even talk that much, and I really do try to measure my words. But sometimes my tone, or the sentiments I vocalize, or the way I articulate and convey something – it betrays irritation or busyness or disappointment. It feeds her own doubts and insecurities – the ones we all have – that we are not important, that we are not worth being prized above anything and everything else. And if I am not sensitive, and immediately apologize and make it right, these can be axe blows to the root of my bride’s self-confidence and ever-unfolding beauty. They clip her wings. They dam up her river. They stunt her growth. Thankfully God helps me to not mess up too often, but my point is that this is the area about which I and arguably everyone else should really be most mindful. It’s so crazy to think that even one short phrase or sentence I might utter in a moment of frustration might very well irreparably shatter her heart. That is how powerful our words can be. It’s scary, but in a good way.
I’m sure there’s more, but that’s enough for now. I know I am incredibly blessed, and people I care about deeply have had an extremely rough go of it during their first six months of marriage. Hardships are inevitable for every couple, and who knows what the future will bring for us. As of now, things are awesome. I just want to remain humble, and teachable, and always willing to change and improve. Because I don’t ever want to hurt her, and I want to bring so much joy and honor to God as He observes us live out the union He orchestrated. And I really want our marriage to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to the singles and the couples we know. They will be able to tell if it’s genuine, or if we’re faking it. For these reasons, and because we’ve been given a platform and voice into the lives of others, it’s absolutely critical for us to do this right.