The Most Important Part Of Our Marriage
There are a lot of things in my life that are quite good and wonderful and truth be told, I am a pretty happy person for the most part. But there’s one aspect of my life that brings me an unparalleled amount of joy and life. For the past eight years, I’ve been married to my best friend, and we are having a blast sharing in life together.
There are a number of things about our relationship that I cherish and love, but there is one aspect in particular, I believe, that keeps us grounded and growing together. This monumental and irreplaceable aspect for us is the importance of shared experiences.
Obviously, every marriage on the planet is unique and incomparable to any other relationship. That’s the beauty of relationships in general–they are unique and belong exclusively to the parties involved. Furthermore, I am in no way shape or form an expert on the subject, or a perfect husband. My faults are vast and varied, and by God’s grace He keeps working through me.
What we’ve found, though, is that being together is the most important thing for us. Marissa and I have always found this to be a natural part of our relationship. We just like doing things together.
This doesn’t mean we’ve always had the same interests or even like the same kind of things all the time. We have a lot in common and share certain memories and jokes that no one else on the planet would understand or get (that’s one of the mysteriously cool things about marriage is that you share something with another person that you don’t share with anyone else on the planet. Think about that for a moment. It should blow your mind). But we’ve also made a concentrated effort to expand our horizons by trusting the other person.
I always joke with Marissa that before I met her, I’d never seen a musical. At least, I’d never gone to one with any amount of enthusiasm or intrigue. I can’t get enough of them now. She might say the same thing about basketball and Quentin Tarantino films (although, just between us, I’m not sure how much she actually likes Kill Bill. Volume 1 or 2).
Part of shared experiences is learning to let the other person share their interests and passions, and in turn, having the opportunity to share your own. I’ve met couples who seem to only focus on their side of things. This line of thinking is severely misguided.
If things are one-sided all the time, we call that selfishness. And the truth is, selfishness breeds contempt, and contempt destroys relationships.
However, there’s something powerful about truly sharing life with your partner. You aren’t merely going through the motions of being a couple–cooking, cleaning, paying bills–like someone trying to keep up appearances. Rather, you are celebrating life together by going on adventures, learning new things, and operating as one.
The weekends in particular have been special for us. We have trouble staying home because there is always a new adventure to behold, a new place to explore, a new experience to uncover together.
Sometimes it’s the simple reality that it’s just fun to do things together from cooking, to exercising, to relaxing. Unbelievably full days are available just by being present together. There’s always something new to learn and experience.
Society often portrays marriage as “the end.” The line of thinking goes, when you finally say “I do,” it means you are losing part of your life. You are giving up your freedom for routine and stability; exchanging the thrill of what is new, for more of the same. What a horrible way to view marriage.
Marriage is not the end of anything, but a beautiful beginning–an immensely inspiring and hopeful opportunity to continue growing and learning and expanding who you are.
Because now, it’s not just you anymore.
You get to share your life with another soul. As you live and share and journey together, it’s like your threshold for joy and life expands again and again.
No longer is it just you seeing and hearing and tasting all that life has–now you share all that life has to offer with another. And you are better because of it. I am not the same person I was before I met my wife (praise God). I’m not even the same person I was three or five years ago. Relationships change you. I’m so thankful for that.
Of course, as a couple, you’ll disagree and argue at times. There will be days when that person you’re sharing life with will confuse you and baffle you. But you’ll come together, even during disagreements and fights, and keep sharing life together.
You’ll stand by the coffee pot and fill your mugs together (or open a bottle vino) and the experience of just being together changes things. Even when you’re upset at the person.
Marriage is good for you. But it’s also good for the world. The love, the true sacrificial and altruistic and laying-down-your-life-for-another kind of love makes the world a better place. God works in that kind of a relationship. He’ll use a connection like that to unleash healing and hope in a world desperate for something real.
The more you do together, the more you share and experience and learn together, somewhat ironically it seems, it’s not just about you as a couple. It’s for other people who will be refreshed and enlivened by your relationship. As you grow deeper, you unleash a deep reservoir of compassion, kindness, and love to everyone you meet.
We’ve all met those couples that refresh us and strengthen us. Similarly, we’ve met those who drain us because of how awkward and upset they are when they’re together.
There is a choice to love and share together. There’s a choice to sacrifice for your significant other. Regardless of how you’ve been so far in your relationship or how long or little time you’ve spent together, today is a new day.
Life is redemptive like that.
New beginnings and new starts accompany us whenever we’re looking for them. Maybe some of us just need to adjust our gaze.
There’s this great rabbinic story about two men who walked through the Red Sea as it was parted. One looked down and noticed the mud on his sandals. He complained about having to walk through the sodden soil and mire. The other, however, looked up and saw the wall of water standing still. He was too busy being amazed to notice something as inconsequential as a little mud.
So, my friends, look up.
Look up and see the beauty that surrounds you. Look at your husband or wife or significant other and see the gift that it is to have that person in your life.
Embrace the beauty of a shared life with new adventures and experiences and a lot of love.
When people ask me about being married, I don’t tell them it’s perfect or that I have a magic formula in place for great relationships. Because I don’t.
I just say we’re having a blast living life together. Every day is another opportunity to learn more about each other and experience new things together. And for us, that’s one of the most important aspects of our marriage.
*Two of my favorite books on marriage and relationships are Scary Close by Donald Miller and The Zimzum of Love by Rob and Kirsten Bell. I highly recommend both of them.