So many people have been supportive and encouraging about our marriage that I thought it would be most appropriate to share some of the observations I’ve made since I’ve been married 4 months now. I doubt any of it is new to seasoned married couples, but even for them, there might be some chuckles and “Yeah, I’ve been there…”
I went shopping with Jenni yesterday at Sears. We had many generous family members and friends give us gift cards at various stores and it’s fun going there and buying things we need and things we want. On this particular trip, we were initially going to get me some new shoes. I didn’t feel that I needed new shoes, as I have a pair of black ones that are comfortable to walk to work with and a nicer pair for my “dressed up” moments. But I listen to my wife’s wisdom as she’s more acute to appearances than I am. What started as a simple shoe run turned out to be one of those moments that remind me that it’s not my life, but our life.
I’m very grateful for Jenni taking care of so many things around the house. Though it is our nest, I let her do with it as she wants. I just draw the line in the computer room =) Sure, there are a few items I’m not a fan of, but I’m not at our humble apartment 40+ hours a week whereas she is, so I think it’s only logical that it’s to her preferences. Speaking of logic, I’ve also learned that logic doesn’t always apply in marriage as it did in single life. Sometimes, the illogical is the best course of action for happiness in marriage. Sometimes romance calls for a “Rube Goldberg” process, many steps to achieve a goal that can be reached in one step. Still, I hold onto my belief that making my wife’s life as wonderful as it can be is better than logic. It’s the best investment with generous returns.
Not that all good things are to be done for the return. Speaking of returns, let’s return to my original point of this story. We were shopping just for shoes so I didn’t grab a cart because, hey I’m a guy, I can hold onto a box of shoes. But add in 3 hangers of shirts, pair of jeans, and some cargo pants… I went for a cart. I felt a little funny spending our wedding gift card on just clothes for me. I nudged her to buy some clothes for herself, but she said she had enough in her wardrobe. Our conversation shifted to my wardrobe and I learned all these miraculous things I never knew during our courtship. Like my sweaters that she thought were ugly, my “Wild Willy” shiny red dance shirt made her brow crinkle, and other clothing artifacts in our closet that just make her smile… hoping that I would toss it out. I have a T-shirt from my high school days, it has all the names of my freshman class. But class the shirt lacks. Like my memories of high school with each passing year, the shirt is fading away. It was brought to my attention earlier last week from another female friend that it’s pretty hideous because they can see straight through it. I still keep it because I’m somewhat a pack rat and I roll my eyes at how much clothes cost, but I’m thinking that shirt will magically disappear someday soon.
With all these discoveries, my excitement about being married hasn’t faded. God has given me much grace with Jennilyn as she learns my idiosyncracies. God has intervened in critical moments to help create a more loving environment for the both of us to flourish. During the first month of our marriage, there was some minor friction because after I get off work, I need some time just to wind down. For Jennilyn, she had been home alone all day and was excited to see me. It was great, having someone to come home to, but after a while, I couldn’t find a nice way of letting her know that I needed some space when I first get home without making her feel bad. I tried several scenarios in my head over and over again trying to find a good solution. Then God stepped in. Jenni asked if it would be possible for me to walk to work each day. As I thought about it, the only downside was that I had to get up earlier. The benefits were exercise, save money on car usage, and make use of the mass-transit pass that my company provides. God knows what he’s doing, that’s for sure. It was a great solution as it allowed me time to think on God’s Word each morning as I walk 25 minutes for a 2 minute MAX ride to work. Best of all, after I get off work, Jenni stops what she’s doing and walks to meet me halfway, so she gets her exercise and I get time to wind-down. Then we walk the rest of the way home- away from our apartment talking about our days without chores getting the best of us.
In spite of my naive optimism, relationships do sometimes feel like a chore. I’m thankful for the relationship books I read that described that love is not a feeling, but an action. Feelings are fleeting- they sway day to day, minute to minute. It wouldn’t make sense to base love on something as unstable as feelings. I’ve found God working in me each time I decide to let Him work through how I feel about something and give me strength to do what is needed, not what is felt.
Married life is definitely complex. I’m sure that’s why team sports is so exciting to watch, and even better to participate in. It’s easy for one person to be going in one direction, but for each additional person added into the mix, direction becomes more intricate. And similarly, that is what attracts me to dance so much, creating a great teamwork relationship between lead and follow. It can be frustrating, but when the relationship is rich with love for the other, it is one of the most beautiful moments in anyone’s life. So while married life is complex, the promise and spirit of each day in marriage is actually quite simple. God spelled it out for me, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)