A lot of posts on my blog roll lately have had to do with marriage. Tips, advice, and stories about long marriages. It got me thinking, and thus wanting to write. I feel a bit under-qualified to write anything meaningful about marriage as an institution since I've been married for less than a decade. But, since I have a blog, what else should I use it for if not airing out my incomplete thoughts on huge issues that have been discussed for millennia by people much smarter than myself?
I've decided that the toughest thing about marriage is loving another person as yourself. Of course you should do this for everyone as the Bible commands, but there is that particular calling to love and respect your spouse above others. The tough thing about loving your spouse above everyone else is that you live day-in and day-out with this person. You see their ugly habits, their sins, their faults up close and personal -- more than any other adult on this earth. So you see those things and live with them and then you have to love them, but not just love them, love them as you love yourself. This is instructive: the only other adult you know as well as your spouse is yourself. So think of your darkest secrets, your worst sins, and then think of how well you look out for number one in spite of those things. We rationalize our own big stinking sins away before we even commit them, but we are constantly getting annoyed at our spouses for things like not changing the toilet paper roll. What is worse: absentmindedly leaving dirty laundry on the floor, or rolling our eyes with a heavy sigh while picking it up, resolving to alert the offender to the error at the first available opportunity?
So, love your spouse as yourself. Thinking about this, I can't help but feel the weight of the impossibility. So what next?
I feel very blessed to have married someone who is very willing and able to keep short accounts. Any time I have messed up in the department of loving or respecting my husband (and there have been many) whatever argument we have usually ends with both of us apologizing and forgiving each other. Lest this sounds like we are the perfect angels about disagreements, this apologizing and forgiveness often comes after some time of stubbornness on one of our parts. God has really given us a lot of grace in this area, because, at least from my perspective, I can think of specific times that Steve and I have fought about something, but I cannot think of one time that we have fought where it hasn't been resolved and wiped clean. I realize that 7 years is a short time to stand on a mountain of accomplishment and proclaim that I harbor no resentment towards my husband, but God has given us a good start in this regard.
Something else that has been key for me in some of our more "spirited discussions" is to do my best to keep from arguing with my husband solely for the purpose of being right or proving my point. It is so easy to get wrapped up in an argument where all I want is for my husband to acknowledge that he is wrong and I am right. Obviously, this is how most discussions end up as arguments. But (if I may be cliche), when arguing just to be the winner of the argument, everyone loses. Defeating your spouse or getting them to capitulate to your own wants should never be the goal of any activity, which is why Steve and I stopped playing Settlers of Catan one-on-one.
Well, I suppose I should end with words from someone much wiser than myself, since for all my rambling on this topic I feel like I know very little about having a great marriage -- other than picking a very forgiving person as a spouse. But I found this quote one day, and it is really helpful in all areas of life, but marriage too:
Instead of assuming that the offending party is the one in the wrong, consider assuming that you are wrong to take offense. Then work from there. It’s amazing how it will simplify your life. --Nancy Wilson
P.S. Hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward with peace and hope to a great 2011!