After the exuberance (and stress) of planning a wedding and planning a home, the real task of becoming one settles in with a little less exuberance. At least it did for us.
My husband and I completed regular marriage counseling with a couple from our church, we read all the books, we received advice from older couples… but nothing could quite prepare us for physically, emotionally, and spiritually becoming one flesh. If you think about your toughest but best relationships, they typically occur with people you live with. Your roommate sees you without makeup, hears you snoring, and interacts with you before you’ve had your coffee. Your best friend holds your hair when you’re vomiting with the stomach bug. Your parents are your first phone call when an emergency happens. After the wedding, your husband typically assumes those tasks. You still have girlfriends, and you still trust your parents, but he becomes your first go-to.
He also becomes your iron. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” This means that the difficult and awkward process of “grating” against each other smooths down your rough edges and produces shiny and beautiful ironwork: you and your husband.
Note that the verse does not say that your relationship is like flowers, bunnies, and clouds. Instead, the comparison is made with iron, which is a hard metal, usually heated up to mold into different shapes. Like ironwork, the thing about marriage is that it is difficult.
While understandably not easy, marriage does not have to be impossible. There are ways to make the becoming-one process a little simpler, and it starts with humility.
First, I had to be open with my husband. I had to be honest about my expectations. While we were dating long distance, we would often read a devotional together before bed. I expected that to continue into marriage. I expected to cuddle up together every night before we went to sleep and read our devotional book, discuss it, and pray a long prayer together. Unfortunately, real life caught up with us. We do still read and pray together often, but my expectation of a long devotional time together every single night was unrealistic.
The bigger issue is that it was unfair of me to expect my husband to pull out the book every night without me explicitly asking him to do so. I actually had to say: “My expectations are that we would read our devotional and pray every night before bed.” Then we discussed that expectation and determined what would work best for both of us for the foreseeable future. This leads us to number two.
Second, I decided to compromise. Once your expectations are out in the open, you can reach a consensus on them. No matter how many times we talked about expectations prior to the wedding, neither of us realized exactly what we truly expected until we arrived home from the honeymoon. Suddenly, everything became real. I wanted to sit at the table; he wanted to sit on the couch. I wanted to do laundry once a week; he wanted clean clothes more often.
Until we were honest and serious with each other, these little expectations grew into huge disagreements. However, when we opened up, we were able to find a solution that worked for both of us and honored both of us. That is how compromise works.
Third, I chose to appreciate. Yes, I may have believed that my way of loading the dishwasher is the only correct way, but I have chosen to let it go. My wonderful husband offers to do the dishes occasionally, and I have chosen to let him and be grateful for it. What an honor that he would volunteer to help with a chore that I signed up to do myself. I can appreciate him instead of putting him down. We are now nine months into marriage, and I find that when one of us says something like, “Thank you so much for taking the trash out” or “I really appreciate that you called the bank for me,” it brightens up our days. We acknowledge each other and turn towards each other, and that brings connection. My parents-in-law have told us that marriage is a series of
We are now nine months into marriage, and I find that when one of us says something like, “Thank you so much for taking the trash out” or “I really appreciate that you called the bank for me,” it brightens up our days. We acknowledge each other and turn towards each other, and that brings connection.My parents-in-law have told us that marriage is a series of
My parents-in-law have told us that marriage is a series of two-degree shifts. When you love someone and choose to get married, you align yourself with him. Every day, people, sin, obligations, disagreements, and more threaten to sway your alignment to the left or the right. Every day, your job is to pull slowly your alignment back to your spouse.
Turn towards each other both physically and emotionally. Be honest and humble with each other. Appreciate each other for the things you do, but also for the people you are. There is nothing more special than telling my husband that I am glad God made him the way he is because I love the way he is. I love his qualities: his work ethic, his compassion, his sense of humor… Becoming one is not easy, but it is fulfilling. It will mold you and your husband to be more like Christ. It will develop in you a life of humility like Christ’s.
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