Marriage: Mission Possible
If there was only one thing from the story of your marriage that you could share, what would it be? What lesson learned, revelation, heart change or profound moment is a testament to God’s plan for marriage?
I don’t care what my first grade teacher said, she was wrong. Only, I didn’t learn that until several years into our marriage. The one lesson I learned that changed our marriage was to relearn my alphabet, and put U before I.
Kate and I dated for 6 years, so I had an assumption that the transition from dating to marriage would be easy. We were waiting for it, craving it really! I assumed that we would move in together and all of the struggles we had over the years of long distance dating would magically disappear. I was actually surprised to discover they didn’t!
I to We
Everyone moves from being only and I, to being “We” when they are dating. This transition happens gradually when little things like friends, schedule and family start to revolve around the thoughts of “we” rather then just “I”. This is honestly a very positive transition, even if some of the outside influences might resist the shift. If a couple is going to eventually follow the model of, God first, spouse second, children third (if you have them), everything else fourth, in their marriage then they first have to become a “we”.
At the wedding an amazing thing happens, yes there is the joining of two people and all that, but I’m talking about the light-bulb that goes of in every husband’s brain. The ring goes on and all the sudden a light pops on. It is similar to one of those warning lights on your dashboard. The light turns on as the pastor says “I now pronounce you Man and Wife” and actively flashes: “You now have a family to provide for!” Ok, well maybe it is not the exact first thing you are thinking, but it comes a close second. The responsibility light starts flashing and we start to change our focus. Now we aren’t worried about getting the girl, we are worried about providing for her.
Have you seen the cool new Lytro cameras? What is so cool about these digital cameras that look like a giant lipstick, is that you can change the picture’s focus after you take it. Want to see the bird in the background, touch the picture and the foreground goes fuzzy and boom the birdie is in focus. That shift in focus is exactly what happens to husbands while they are walking back down the aisle. They see the responsibility light flashing and instead of focusing on their new wife they worry about providing. They shift focus from her to work.
We goes back to I
In order to deal with this responsibility light husbands almost always have to focus outside of the home. The first year of our marriage I worked full time, and as much overtime as I could get. Then the next two years I went to graduate school full time.
When a husband’s energy is largely focused on his career or school, a strange thing happens at home. “I” comes creeping back into the picture:
- “I am too tired”
- “I am doing all this for us”
- “I do all the work around here”
- “I wish you would make time for sex with me.”
- “I don’t know what you want from me”
- “I just want to sit and relax for a minute”
We are spending all of our energy outside of home, and come to expect home to be relaxation.
It was not till much later in marriage that I recognized this pattern. I saw that I was putting 95% of myself into my career in order to provide for my famil, that I was giving only 5% of my energy. I talked to God about this difference, I re-read Proverbs, and I prayed that God would help me to live the priorities that I had.
What changed? I learned that “I” needed to take a back seat. “I” did not belong in the home. At first I worked hard to bring back the “we” focus that had worked when we were dating. I paid attention to “we” time, and fought for every “we” moment I could. This was better, but still missed the mark. When I tried to put we first, I started to be demanding on time, money, friends, family, even kids; pretty much anything that got in the way of it just being “we” time.
U comes before I and We
When I really challenged myself to follow Ephesians 5: 25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”, I saw just how totally unselfish that love was! I can’t say that I always remember my new alphabet correctly, but I do work hard to keep putting my beautiful U, before I every day!