I have been married a little over four months now, and have just come to the conclusion that marriage is not fair! Thinking back to the days before Mike and I started dating, I remember my friend Kelly telling me that marriage is God’s way to teach you to not be selfish. I don’t think I fully appreciated the truth in those words, but I’m starting to get it now…. finally! I guess I’ve always been a slow learner!
The transition to where we are now has been difficult; I don’t think I realized how hard it would be. He’s an amazing man; I’ve never loved someone this wonderful before; our strengths and weaknesses perfectly complement each other; he loves my kid; I love his kids; what could possibly go wrong?
Well, it turns out – a lot…..
Moving, reducing household “stuff”, selling a house, sharing a room – a bed – and having different evening routines, blending finances, navigating hobbies and separate time, realizing you handle many things quite differently, but sometimes react to problems in exactly the same not-so-great emotional way – Yep, it’s hard when you’re almost 40 years old and you’ve never done this before! I think the kids have done amazingly at becoming brothers. I think Mike has been patient with me and as understanding as humanly possible. Unfortunately, I think I’ve been a mess – and I’m afraid that’s going to continue until I figure all of this out. But, it makes sense – Marriage is the answer to selfishness and I have almost 40 years of selfishness to work through!
I realized last night that many of my frustrations are based upon my perception of things not being fair…. The kids not being treated equally, different rates of progress merging the household stuff, outside “separate” interests and my unfortunate lack thereof, different priorities in spending, etc. – None of these things are bad, we just see and react to things differently. But, it becomes a problem when I get mad that things aren’t fair and then, I want to try and control the situation to make it more equitable, from my rather biased perspective. So, I question, challenge, and criticize; maybe he will change to be more in line with my thinking? However, I recognize that as controlling, so I try not to take it too far. Maybe the answer is focusing more on “finding myself”? Perhaps I need more hobbies, maybe I need to spend more money on myself, etc? Truthfully, maybe I do need to develop some hobbies or rekindle the ones I used to have that are appropriate within a marital relationship. Maybe I do need to figure out who I am, since once I met this amazing man, my number one interest has been him. However, while those things may be important, they are really missing the point completely.
Showing love is about me putting Mike’s needs and desires ahead of my own – always, not just when I agree with them. If something is important to him, it should be important to me. If he wants to “do”, “spend”, “act” in a particular way, I need to encourage that as his wife and not be mad when it doesn’t seem fair based on my limited perspective. My job is to love Mike unconditionally, not only when it feels good or is in line with my thinking. Respecting Mike means trusting that he will love and cherish me in everything he does and, more importantly, trusting that God will work on him if he doesn’t. It isn’t my place to help God with Mike’s spiritual maturity. I have plenty of my own growth to worry about. 40 years of selfishness… That’s where my focus should be.
The point is that no one ever said marriage is fair and it’s not supposed to be. Marriage is based on unconditional love, the kind of love that Jesus showed us when he died on the cross. Giving up His perfect life to save me from the penalty of my enormous sin problem certainly wasn’t fair to Him at all. Marriage isn’t about what’s fair – it’s about love… selfless, giving, patient, kind, enduring love. That should be the only thing that matters to me.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV)