Saturday, June 06, 2009

Some More Thoughts on Marriage

A few days ago, my hubby and I had an arguement. It was a foolish thing, but sometimes it happens. But we discovered something. It was actually kind of funny that we were pointing fingers at each other over the very same sins and weaknesses we were guilty of ourselves. After thinking about it for awhile, I came to the conclusion that the inevitable had finally arrived. We have been married nearly 20 years and now we're starting to resemble each other. I've heard about this, that couples start looking and acting like each other over a certain amount of time. (LeRoy Eims uses this tendency as an illustration for spending time in the Bible--the more we cultivate regular times of reading Scripture and praying, the more God transforms our hearts and minds).

And I've taken a good look over the years at couples who are heading towards that great retirement center in the sky, or have been with each other at least a quarter of a century. It's true. They dress, talk, walk, act and look alike. Who had the greater influence over the other is a toss up. And now, it's finally happening to us. It isn't as obvious or external as other couples we've known--but it's there.

In the beginning we were distinctly different in personality and in interests. It would have been difficult to see what drew us together in the first place, and we fit the adage "opposites attract" very well. If you know us, it isn't hard to see. You would also notice that Dennis and I both share an enthusiasm for loving people and sharing the Gospel and it was this that we found attractive from the beginning. Although it was often hard to understand each other at times, being with each other was comforting nonetheless. We learned that accepting each other as Christ accepted ourselves, was a key to discovering more about ourselves and each other.

We will always remain individuals. In some respects, we always had that in common--headstrong and opinionated. Yet, we could always count on the other to be the missing link. Dennis needed an organized woman who can keep track of details. I needed a husband with a certain amount of energy to move me onward. That was the refreshing thing that made our lives much easier in the beginning years of marriage. However, after a certain amount of time, you over depend on each other as well as try to control--Dennis didn't discipline himself on details because he didn't have to and I got tired of being the go-to girl. I didn't work on my phlegmatic laziness, and Dennis got tired of trying to motivate me. This leads to an inner strain of resentment and feeling taken for granted.

So, we crashed like this for a few years, and it was a revelation to us that oneness in marriage never meant taking advantage of each other to do what we are supposed to do on our own. And we appreciate each other more when we function as adults, not selfish children, thinking of only our own interests and feelings. Love, we found, is about giving in big and small ways to each other, and Christ is our model of that kind of love in how he laid down his life for others. The Gospel isn't just for sharing, it is also meant to be lived by.

So, in taking responsibility for ourselves, we began to reach a certain level of alikeness, it appears. I picked up my pace and got motivated, even though on occasion I'll let Dennis try to give me a pep talk for old times' sake (I miss those sometimes) and Dennis has some form or method of organizing, not what I'd do, but it works for him. So, peace had arrived at one time or another as each of us endeavored to carry our own burden. This is a good thing. We are actually growing closer this way.

We now have something else in common--blindspots. This can't be a good thing. But we'll work on it. I have now come to a conclusion that conflict is not a bad thing, but a catalyst for change for the better in a relationship.


Arnold said...

I don't read a lot of marriage books (for obvious reasons), but your perspective seems unique and insightful. Thanks for sharing.

Althea said...

Well, thank you, Arnold. There's a lot of marriage books out there, that's for sure. But nothing beats experience. Dennis and I highly recommend marriage.