For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
This morning we experienced one of those rough marriage moments.
My husband is a very literal, detail-oriented person. I however am an abstract, big picture person. This means we have the capacity to balance each other out well. It also means we have the capacity to completely misunderstand the other.
We've had plenty of these misunderstandings. And they haven't all ended in cute, "Oh you're so different than me!" giggles. Sometimes, we both just feel exasperated.
Why can't he see the big picture? Why can't he intuit the fear under my crankiness? Why can't he see how A today will affect B decades down the road?
Why did she say A if she really meant B? Just say B!!! Why must she always worry about the future? Why must she create mountains out of mole hills? Where is she making all these crazy connections that the present data doesn't support?
The morning started out well... until I started stressing about some logistics of my busy day ahead. Detailed logistics like this are my husband's gift. For me, it can feel daunting.
I started to express my fears, concerns and frustrations. My husband did his husband thing, and tried to fix the situation... suggesting options I'd already thought of or wouldn't work. I got defensive and bit back. As the conversation spiraled, I went from worried about details of the day to a full-blown meltdown over what maybe-could-go-wrong-over-the-next-20-years. It was the kind of interaction you’re pretty sure ruined the next week for you and your sweetheart. I felt so immature.
So, I was a little surprised when my husband checked on me later this morning to help me revisit the problem when my head was clearer (and I had a little caffeine in my system).
I told him I was sorry for being Mrs. Horrible. And as we talked, something became obvious. He did intuit my underlying issue and fears. He saw the big picture. He forgave me. He cared enough to look past it all and check in with me.
This scene is very different than when we first started dating and such an interaction would cause us days of angst. And somehow, the effort my husband made to “get me” today seems even sweeter than if he just had the same personality as me and "got me" from day one.
So often, I see young people analyzing and analyzing a relationship. Making sure they fit. That's a good thing. But it's not everything. This morning, I was a bad fit for my husband. And honestly, as good as my husband's intentions were, he was a bad fit for me at that moment too. We were both doing what came naturally to us -- and while not all of it was objectively bad -- it definitely wasn't pretty when the two worlds met. This is the reality of living on a fallen planet.
But now that we're almost a year into marriage, we're becoming a better fit. It was a matter of hours before my husband figured out what happened and reached out.
During our marriage prep, our pastor really emphasized to us that marriage is a lifelong journey of two becoming one. The vows are the beginning of that process... you don't walk down the aisle and into your gorgeous reception hall as one, in perfect unity and harmony like the Trinity (even though the magic of the day may make it feel that way!). No, becoming one is a process much like sanctification. It’s a lifetime of being transformed, and as we conform more to Christ, we also experience greater unity with our beloved spouse.
Some days that process feels so easy and natural. God sure knew what he was doing when he created marriage, you think, with a blissful smile on your face. You wonder what the deal is with those cranky couples or with the meanies who want to destroy marriage or avoid it for life.
Other days it feels like a ridiculous impossible joke no matter how wonderful your spouse may be (and mine is indeed wonderful). This is where the grace is so necessary. It's where I am so thankful we have our faith as a foundation, the cross as an example, and regular access to God through prayer, church attendance and a wise priest or two to help us regain perspective when we've veered too far off the path.
Another change I’ve noticed in the past year? More laughter. When we face stress, frustrations, and quirks about each other we’d rather not deal with, we’ve gotten into the habit of bursting into laughter. Or at least having a chuckle after the stress has passed.
To me, this is the stuff that flows from grace. The growth may feel almost imperceptible at times, but God is there. It makes me look forward to what the next several decades hold (yeah, I don't think my "big picture" approach is going away).
Sarah Phillips, Crosswalk.com’s Family Editor, embraced faith in Christ at an unlikely phase in her life: as a skeptical undergraduate at Virginia Tech. She now enjoys putting her VT English degree to use at the Salem Web Network by observing and reflecting on cultural trends, marriage, family life, and the human condition through the lens of Christianity. When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband, Corey.
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