For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
Marriage is the act of Becoming One. Two distinct individuals fuse their lives together in every conceivable way to become one.
I married Sarah on November 18th, 2017. The fusion of our lives began then and has continued over the last 100 days. It has been quite a time. New, exciting, challenging, fruitful, educational.
I have learned a lot. Living is truly the best education you can receive and the last 100 days have been a revelation. Here are a few lessons I have extracted from my short time in marriage:
1) More Selfish Than I Know
Wow. I went into marriage thinking I was a selfless person. I love to serve and I understand the purpose and value of sacrifice… On my terms. But inject another person into my world whom I am responsible for and accountable to then just see how quickly my selfishness is revealed to me. This has been, simultaneously, the best and most difficult lesson I have learned in these first 100 days. Marriage is a mirror revealing these things to us that we would never see without it. Marriage can also be a refining fire if we let it, removing these impurities within our character. Making us better, more Christ-like.
2) Challenging But Rewarding
Marriage can be challenging at times. See lesson #1. We are selfish. But there is silver lining with this challenge: progress. Progress is rewarding. When I see Sarah overcoming a challenge, when she helps me overcome a challenge… When we engage marriage together and grow. It is unbelievably rewarding. Sharing these ups and downs with her is much more rewarding than anything I have experienced individually.
3) Comparison Kills Closeness
I have always known that comparison kills. It is the enemy of joy, gratitude, contentment. In marriage, comparison is the enemy of closeness. We are constantly bombarded with standards to make comparisons with. “Perfect” marriages, perfect families, perfect husbands and wives. Most of these come from the outside world, media/movies, social media etc. However, an unexpected source of comparison was revealed to me recently – My Expectations.
We all have expectations. You can probably list quite a few of them off the top of your head. However, I have discovered that we all have expectations we are not even aware of UNTIL they are not met. Friction in marriage comes when our expectations collide with reality and we do not handle it gracefully.
I imagine this will be an ongoing process, however an increase in an awareness of my expectations has helped a ton. It helps me to love and appreciate Sarah for ALL that she is, as opposed to comparing her to some unknown expectation that I have.
4) Humble or Hurt
Marriage is such a unique environment because of two competing factors: 1) Vulnerability and 2) Flawed humans.
We open ourselves up to someone knowing there are going to be times when we fail them, hurt them, disappoint them and they are going to return the favor. I cant think of another environment where we make this decision (however I imagine parenting shares some of the same characteristics).
In these times of pain and disappointment, we are faced with a choice: do I respond in kind (hurt) or do I respond with humility (humble)? We can choose to be humble or choose to be hurt. This choice makes ALL the difference. Just imagine the havoc wrought on a marriage where each spouse continuously chooses to BE hurt and to carry this hurt forward indefinitely. The compounding effect of that must be one of the contributing factors to lackluster marriages and/or divorce.
5) Believe the Best
Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. They deserve your trust. They deserve the belief that they are FOR you, not against you. It is easy to do this when things are good (as they have been for the vast majority of the last 100 days), but what about when they are not? What about when you fight or disagree? Are you believing the best about your spouse?
This is a choice, and sometimes it is not going to feel good but this is an extension of grace towards your spouse that we simply must make.
In closing, the last 100 days have revealed a lot to me. Truthfully, I feel less prepared today than I did on my wedding day. I am okay with that. We tend to overestimate ourselves, so this serving of humble pie has rested nicely on my heart. This process of Becoming One is an ongoing discovery. An adventure. It is my prayer and hope that Sarah and I will always remember that as we press forward, together. My prayer for anyone reading this is that you would have an honest view of marriage. If you are single, find someone committed to Becoming One with you. If you are married, hopefully you are still allowing the Lord to work this process out in your marriage. Without Him you have no hope of Becoming One on your own.
Thanks for reading,