Thursday, July 9, 2015

Marriage: Three Lies and a Truth

Christmas Picture 2012

Today is our fourth wedding anniversary. Four years ago, right now, Blake and I were eating an oven baked pizza in our house in Shawnee because we had been way too nervous to eat before our wedding at 2pm that afternoon. Or maybe that's when we were walking out of Family Video with a couple of rented movies to watch. My timeline is a little fuzzy. 

For a blog post in honor of four years of marriage, Blake suggested I do a "two truths and a lie" post, where I say two true things and one false thing we have learned in our four years of marriage. Then I said it has to be three truths and a lie so that it adds to four, because that's cuter. We started brainstorming some of the marriage advice we received while we were engaged and reached an interesting conclusion: either we heard more (or remember many more) false statements about marriage than true ones. I think this could be due to the fact that when you are married and living life and someone suddenly asks you to give them marriage advice, you just regurgitate something you heard that you think could possibly be true for them. Also, we received some advice that was kind of depressing, either because whoever gave it was a Debbie downer or thought it would help us be "realistic" or something. All this to say, it is necessary for this little game to be "three lies and a truth." 

OKAY! So, let's play.

  • Marriage is 50/50; it's all about give and take.
  • Sometimes husbands and wives just don't get each other, and that's okay. That's what girlfriends/bros are for.
  • Kids won't strengthen your marriage, they will strain it.
  • Marriage is hard, but it is also really fun.
Don't read ahead just yet! See if you can guess. Read them a couple more times. Find the true one (or the one Blake and I find to be true).

Okay, now for the big reveal!

LIE #1: Marriage is 50/50. It's all about give and take.

Thankfully, Blake and I covered this one in marriage counseling with Odus, so we didn't learn this was a lie the hard way. Marriage is not 50/50. It is 100/100, as in, you are both giving 100% all the time. If at any time you decide, "Hey, I've been giving a lot lately, it's about time my spouse matched my giving," then you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Plus, if both of you are giving your 100%, you might be exhausted, but you won't be bitter. You will be thankful for each other and for the ability to communicate and work together as a team. I would way rather lay in bed with Blake at the end of the day completely worn out than for one of us to feel okay and the other to be perturbed because they were pulling most of the weight all day. Also, instead of constantly wishing your spouse would be more romantic or complementary or whatever your "love language" is, focus on pouring out whatever love language they speak, and typically they will pour out your love language right back. I'm going to assume that whoever you married likes when you feel loved; if you don't feel loved, don't try to force them to show it. Lavish love on them, and it will elicit a response. Focusing on giving instead of entitlement changes everything, marriages included.

LIE #2: Sometimes husbands and wives just don't get each other, and that's okay. That's what girlfriends/bros are for.

Be wary of any advice that separates husbands and wives. Marriage is about unity, and while men and women may seem to think differently at times, it is no excuse for driving a wedge between a husband and wife. I realize this may not be true for every couple out there, but Blake knows more about me than anyone. I trust his advice more than anyone else's, and I trust him with my feelings more than anyone else. If I seek out someone to talk to, it isn't because I think Blake wouldn't understand, but because whoever I vent to might happen to be more readily available to listen at that moment. 

Now, I'm not saying there isn't a need for wives to have their girlfriends and husbands to have their guy friends. People need community and that is part of it. However, the idea that Blake should just accept that I'm not going to get how his mind works or that I should just accept the fact that I'm on a different emotional plane than he is seems lazy and disrespectful. Accepting this negates the need to learn how to effectively communicate, and seems to segregate a part of your heart away from your spouse, which isn't unifying at all. Working through this isn't always going to be easy. Sometimes it will force the two of you to sit on your bed for hours talking, take five minutes to cool down and keep from yelling, resort to creative ways to explain yourselves (imagery, charts, who knows?), and all kinds of tedious conversation; but on the other side, you will understand each other, you will respect each other, and you will have something that a girlfriend or bro just can't give you.

LIE #3: Kids won't strengthen your marriage, they will strain it.

Yeah, look at all that strain I'm holding in my uterus.

At least the graduation gown helped hide my planetary belly.

Yeah...Addie didn't strain my marriage so much as she strained my stomach and my ability to breathe. And hold in pee.

I think we strained Addie's patience with our silliness infinitely more than she ever strained our marriage as an infant. 

Look, I know where people are coming from with this. Having kids is really, really hard, and it will completely change your life. When you have a newborn, everything is strained because you aren't getting any sleep. Children do not strain your marriage. You strain your marriage. Pregnancy doesn't strain your marriage. If you choose to be a husband that just looks at your wife and thinks "you are not my wife, you are crazy," you are going to strain your marriage as well as the possibility that you are going to live past tomorrow. If you are a pregnant wife who looks at your husband and thinks, "he has no idea what I am going through," even if that's true, you are straining yourself and your marriage. Help each other. Listen to each other. Be on each other's side. Husbands, tell your wife that she is still beautiful when she has Cheerios in her hair. Wives, don't get mad when your husbands can't read your mind because they are trying really hard to do so. Husbands, when you can see that your wife is losing it, instead of rolling your eyes, just relieve her of her duties. If Blake can tell my patience is wearing thin, he stops me in the middle of my third load of dirty dishes for the day and says "I'll clean up, go sit down for a while," and I accept his help. If I can tell that Blake is getting wound up, I go to him and say, "Is there anything I could do for you on your to-do list that will take some pressure off of you?" and he will let me know how I can help him. Wives, don't assume that your husband doesn't care. He might not be super intuitive, but that doesn't mean he doesn't care. 

Ultimately, if anything, kids may be a distraction from effective communication, but only if you let them. If you find yourself resenting your spouse, it probably isn't your child's fault. Take a good, hard, honest look at how you think about your spouse, and ask yourself whose fault that really is.

TRUTH: Marriage is hard, but it is also really fun.

When you try to FaceTime your brother but he won't answer so you send a screenshot of your disapproval.

Going on adventures when you're married is the funnest.

In four years, Blake and I have already seen a lot of the difficulties life can throw at you when you are married. We have been at odds with friends. We have struggled through painful conversations. We have dealt with the pain of miscarriage. We have been really poor. We have heard troubling news from doctors. We have said goodbye to loved ones until we see them again in heaven. We have held each other and cried and waited for God. There is going to be a lot of this and so much more of it during our marriage. 

We have also traveled to different countries and cultures together. We got our degrees at OBU together. We have five awesome kids (one we made, four we gained, plus other guys who have come through our house in the past). We have an awesome job with amazing co-laborers. We have been a part of amazing ministries and have had opportunities to share the gospel that we never could have done apart from each other. We laugh all the time. We binge watch Netflix and yell at imaginary characters together. We are complete foodies and we eat everything. We text each other ridiculous things while the other is in the bathroom. We have fun and we are so not sorry about it. 

Look, it's baby Blake and Michelle taking kissy pictures in their college library! Awh.

Some honorable mentions for this post:

LIE: You won't like each other as much later as you do now.
We still think we're awesome.

LIE: Sex will be really great your first year of marriage or until you have kids, but then it's going to be kind of "meh."
Just. Nope.

LIE: No matter how long you have been married, there will still be secrets you keep from your spouse or things you won't do in front of each other.
Leave the door unlocked because sometimes there is just too much going on for you to poop in peace. 

LIE: It's hard to find time for each other after you have kids.
Napping together is still time for each other. You can find time for each other even if you're not doing anything.

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