A while ago, author Harold Arnold asked, "what is your marriage in six words?"
The challenge is based on this book. I thought today, for Wifey Wednesday, I'd issue that challenge to you!
Tomorrow is my anniversary, and Keith and I are heading to Kingston to spend the night and the next day, since that's where we met and married. And it got me thinking about what life was like back then, and what it is now.
Harold wrote this about his marriage:
"Myopic start succumbed to purposeful pursuit"
I tried, and came up with this:
"Everyday learn it's not about me."
I suppose that's true, but I don't really like it. It makes it sound like marriage is a downer. And while I'm not at the center of the marriage, I still am there. That one sounds a little to Christianese to me, and I don't like pat answers.
So I tried again, and got this:
"Chased God. Then chased each other."
I kind of like that one. See, when Keith and I first met we were just simply good friends. For about a year and a half we knew each other, but nothing romantic happened. We did a lot of Bible studies together. We talked theology and spiritual stuff galore. And in getting to know his spiritual side I really became attracted to him as a whole person. That's when we started dating.
And yes, then we chased each other.
But in marriage it wasn't always a happy chase.
Our first few years were tough, and if I picture it now, it's more like chasing like this:
We're trying to rope him in, get him to do what we need, get him to change.
And he's doing the same thing on his end.
I've written in all of my books, but especially 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, about how hard the first few years were when I was trying to get Keith to understand me, but at the same time not realizing that I was failing to understand him. I still loved him, but it often felt like there was this great chasm between us. I'd chase him, but hit an obstacle and couldn't quite catch him.
We would reach for each other at different times, but we couldn't quite get there.
And the journey was perilous. If we ever brought up our needs, or tried to bring the other closer, we'd feel like we were falling and losing everything.
The problem was that we felt like there was nothing solid between us.
Individually we were on solid ground. We certainly loved God, and we still knew we loved each other. But our relationship wasn't on solid ground because we could only see our own perspective.
I knew I was a good person, and I knew my needs were legitimate. I also knew that Keith was a good person, and that his needs were legitimate. But we just couldn't meet in the middle, because we couldn't give up our needs. How can you do that? Your needs are your needs, right? Are you supposed to say they didn't matter?
What I was missing was that piece in the middle.
I needed to understand that I wasn't seeing the whole picture. In my case, sex was really difficult and awkward and uncomfortable. And he needed it all the time. That's how he felt love. I understood that this was real for him, but why did I have to feel so awkward for him to feel love? How could that even be true or fair?
It was only when I took a step back and realized, "If God made sex to be something wonderful, and it isn't wonderful in my case, then maybe I need to figure out how to make it wonderful." I had to step back from my own feelings and turn to the truth I knew that was real. God loved me. God made marriage. God made sex. Why would I want to miss out on that? (I wrote more about that mental journey and changing my perspective on sex).
Our marriage has gone through other challenges. Keith has spent a lot of time chasing me, trying to get me to see that sometimes he's hurting, and I find it hard to hear that. To me, if he's hurting, then I'm doing something wrong. I don't like thinking I'm in the wrong. And if he's hurting he may leave. And I have rejection issues. So what I'll do instead is try to convince him that he has no reason to be hurt!
Yeah, like that works.
Again, what was missing was that piece between us–that God piece where God comes and heals some of the insecurities Keith has, and also heals some of that rejection I have, so that Keith doesn't react so badly to things, but I also don't view each problem as a possible rejection.
We chased each other out of desperation so much early in our marriage, but we couldn't quite catch each other.
And that's because we didn't have that solid God-piece between us–that piece where Truth reigns, where we believe God's promises, where we allow God to heal even the deepest parts of our souls.
And today, 26 years in, we've allowed God to occupy that chasm between us much more. He hasn't totally filled it yet; I think that can only happen in Paradise. But now, when we chase each other, it's not because we're desperate to have the other person fill something in us.
It's because we're happy, and we're doing well, and life is exciting and we want to run alongside each other, like this (although they're young and we're old!)
So here we are.
We chased God, and then we chased each other.
Sheila Wray Gregoire has been married for 25 years and happily married for 20! She loves traveling around North America with her hubby in their RV, giving her signature "Girl Talk" about sex and marriage. And she's written eight books about sex and marriage. See a theme here? Plus she knits. Even in line at the grocery store.
Find her at https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/