Well, in marriage, the lessons just keep on coming. And I’m committed to keep sharing what I’m learning just in case it helps someone else. I know all of my single friends want to get married, and I want them to get married as well. (Immediately!) But the more wisdom you can gain right now will save you a lot of headache and heartache down the road. So let’s get to a humongous lesson that I was recently reminded of:
I cannot fit a wife into my life.
When we’re single, we have a certain way of living and organizing our time, and structuring our lifestyle. I mean, over the years, I custom-designed my life in a way that works best for me, and then pretty much honed it to perfection in terms of how I wanted my days to go. Every day wasn’t amazing, but it worked well for me. Actually, my lifestyle – my way of living – was a well-oiled machine that kept me going and kept everything around me going. It just worked. For me.
My lifestyle – my way of living – was a well-oiled machine that kept me going and kept everything around me going. It just worked. For me.
And then I married Rachel. And subconsciously, I thought to myself that I needed to shoehorn in a new addition to my life. I had to squeeze in another “task” or “to-do” item in my day. And so I worked to fit Rachel in my existing schedule of when I ate, worked, exercised, watched sports, socialized, had time with God, and slept. It sounds naïve, but I really did just expect her to be a nice new cog which I could insert into my well-oiled machine.
You can see with the way that I am describing this that it’s so very wrong. Rachel is not a task or a to-do item. She is a person who I have vowed to love and take care of just as I love and take care of myself.
But still, I tried. Just because I was so used to my daily routine. Heck, I spent decades refining a certain way of doing my daily life. And again, it worked for me!!!!! Why would I change it up? Why would I mess up a good thing?
I spent decades refining a certain way of doing my daily life. And again, it worked for me!!!!! Why would I change it up? Why would I mess up a good thing?
Oh yeah, because I got married. Because I am insanely fortunate to get married. Because marriage truly is the most incredible and challenging and glorious relationship I will ever have. And because I promised to rise up and give Rachel my everything, just as Christ gave me His everything.
We know that when two people get married, they become one flesh. Of course, we understand the sexual connotation, but this is true in every other way as well. Now, I’m not saying each person should lose their uniqueness, but two individual lifestyles in marriage cannot co-exist in harmony. That’s what roommates do, not spouses. And Rachel is not my roommate – she is my best friend and lover and wife. A gift of singular value. A pearl of great price.
Two individual lifestyles in marriage cannot co-exist in harmony. That’s what roommates do, not spouses. And Rachel is not my roommate – she is my best friend and lover and wife.
The first handful of months of marriage weren’t easy for Rachel as she had left her family and friends and home city and state to come down to Florida for a new beginning with me. That, in and of itself, would be tremendously difficult for anyone. Then she had to try to convey what she was feeling to me in ways that wouldn’t hurt me, because I was pretty oblivious for a while. Of course, I would have tried to course-correct if I would have realized it or known about this tendency (which is why I’m sharing it!), but I missed the signs and just assumed that everything was awesome because I had been able to largely keep up my own way of living.
Meanwhile, Rachel struggled. And would cry in the shower. And pull back sometimes relationally. And I didn’t really understand what on earth was going on, except that “girls are emotional!” – sometimes for reasons that no one can explain.
But there was an explanation. And it was totally legit.
And eventually I got it. I understood. Completely. And I worked to fix it. And through a million conversations (we took as much time as necessary, because this was so important), I tore down my custom-designed lifestyle all the way to the ground, and Rachel and I built together something that was best for both of us.
Through a million conversations, I tore down my custom-designed lifestyle all the way to the ground, and Rachel and I built together something that was best for both of us.
This is what has to happen. It’s only fair, and obviously the right thing to do.
This process actually should start before marriage, because both parties will have a ton of unsaid expectations about how they envision each day will look like as “one flesh” after they say “I do.” And both need to feel completely comfortable laying everything out on the line, without hesitation, without holding anything back. Otherwise, resentment will slowly creep in and take a toll on the entire relationship.
We often hear that what makes a marriage successful is communication. Communication, communication, communication. That’s what everyone told me. But no one really told me exactly what to communicate about.
This is one major thing that should be at the top of your list.
Trust me, it matters so very much.