Today my wife and I have been married for three years. That’s about 91 months, or 157 weeks, or 1,095 days, or 26,000 something hours; a very short period of time. I point this out so that my readers may know that I’m not writing as someone who believes he has been married longer than the facts have shown. However, I do have something to say about it. A few weeks ago I saw author Mandy Len Catron on CBS news being interviewed about an article she wrote for the Atlantic. The article was intended to give viewers second thoughts about the social good of marriage. I found it discrediting that she wasn’t married herself, but even still some of what she said and wrote is indeed true of some married folk. My purpose here is simply to tell my own experience as someone who is actually married. I’ll mention some things I love about it, some things that suck, and maybe some random things for free.
First, I have loved learning more about my wife. I thought I had a good idea of who she was when I proposed, and the 6 months we spent planning our wedding gave me some good insight too; but frankly, I wasn’t even close to understanding who she really is. It was one thing for me to know what nickname her parents called her growing up, her preferred food choices, and what her personal career goals were. But it was an entirely different thing to discover how her personality is wired, how past experiences of pain has shaped her present, and what she personally needs in order to be healthy. This is deep stuff and even three years in I know I’m not done learning about her. It has become an essentially intimate experience for me, because learning more about my wife should lead to me loving her better.
Learning more about my wife has also contributed to “a kind of fun” I have provoking her. I have spent enough time with her to know EXACTLY what gets under her skin, and sometimes (maybe more often than I like to think) in good humor I attempt to get under it. Here’s something for free: If someone doesn’t know at least three phrases they can say to their spouse, that on the spot would immediately trigger agitation, then you don’t really know them and frankly I believe, your missing out on alot of fun. However, I’m well aware that there is likely a special corner in Heaven for husbands like me….. Lord forgive us lol. Side note: She does it to me too! (she’s not as good though lol). The featured picture of this blog is one of those times I’ve done that to her.
Second, I love how my wife has challenged me to be a better man. This is actually very painful, but I’m learning to appreciate it. When I was single, no one was there to challenge my habits. I hold convictions as a Christian, but frankly, I’ve never gone to bed with the people I went to church with, they don’t have access to my finances, and they don’t see everything I do. Marriage brought accountability to my life in a very real way. If we were broke…..(I’m sorry)….. “when” we are broke…. I have to explain to my wife why that is the case. It has become clear to me that I must be a careful thinker, because I may make a decision that causes her pain. In fact, some of the most influential moments she has challenged me to be a better man has been the moments I saw her hurting because of me. She is cultivating my character, discipling me in our faith, and by simple close proximity, challenging me to be a better husband to her.
Third, I love having a partner to do life with. I’ve been waking up everyday for the past three years with my wife by my side and I love it! We act as a small team working together to take care of our home and accomplish good work. We’re not always the most efficient team, but even when we’re not at our best we get things done. I wouldn’t give that up for the best side chick in the world. I love that my wife is “the one” partner I do life with.
This is one of the things that makes marriage so special. At exactly 7:34 pm on July 8th 2019, my wife looked at me and said: “I’m glad I married you”. It meant the world to me. After almost three years, it was what I wanted to hear from her. It was equivalent to a child saying they are glad you’re their parent, or a member from your church saying they’re glad you are their pastor. Those were words that affirmed that I was not a mistake, that she believed I was important to her, and that she wanted to continue living her life together with me as a partner. I don’t deserve that at all, but it’s a privilege she has allowed me to keep.
Fourth, I love that I’m giving my son an example of what it looks like to love one woman. I grew up in a culture that did not encourage marriage. The marriages exposed to me growing up were not healthy and usually ended in divorces. There were married couples on the street my grandmother lived on, one couple was older so it seemed proper to me that they were married. Another couple were younger (middle aged) but they were loners, so nothing about their marriage gave me much excitement either. By the time I was 12, I came to endorse that marriage was for the mid to late 30 somethings, for the people who had out grown many years of sex and relationships with various people and made a decision to settle down for the best potential spouse possible…. yea that made sense to me. It’s unfortunate how wrong I was. My early views of marriage helped me justify losing my virginity at barely 13, producing the life of my son at 16, and continuing a practice of pursuing women I never truly intended on committing myself to exclusively. After all; I believed I had at least until my mid 30’s to do relationships however I wanted to.
The problem with my early views was that they held a very low view of both sex and relational commitment and I don’t want my son to pick up on that. If I allow him to believe that it is normal to have sex with women he has no intentions on committing himself to exclusively, then I’m essentially allowing him to believe that sex is just an “act” rather than an “experience” between two committed people. What I’m hoping to do instead, is give him an example of what it looks to truly commit himself to one woman, to give him a high standard of what sacrificial love is, and to save him from destroying the lives of various women ( something his father did).
Fifth, it sucks how slow change can be in a marriage. There are certain ways I wish I could stop behaving towards my wife, but it’s a struggle to see it realized. There used to be things I’m sure I would change about my wife if I could have. But in our short experience, it just hasn’t happened like that, and we’ve been counseled that it will never happen like that. Anything that needs to change will likely be very slowly, and it’s gonna suck at times. I chew gum kind of loud ( I take chewing seriously) and it drives my wife crazy, I’m good for throwing food away that I think looks suspicious when in fact it’s probably OK to eat, and I’m a little OCD about what happens in our kitchen. These are minor things that I (hopefully) have made some progress on. But other problematic things about my personality, routine habits, and how I’m wired, may take longer to adjust. My wife is super gracious, but I’m sure it does suck for her at times.
Sixth, It sucks thinking about losing my wife to some fatal tragedy. This is random but it is a real thought that plagues me. When I hear the news of someone’s spouse being murdered, or passed away from some sickness, or suffered some accidental death: I fear what my life would be if a similar tragedy would come to my own marriage. Someone might caution me not to think those thoughts. I would love not to, but the truth is I do sometimes. I live in a neighborhood where I see a gun at least once a week, car crashes claim the lives of people frequently in my city, and diseases like cancer can affect a marriage greatly. What if it’s me? What’s if it’s her? What will I do without her? Dr. King said: “there can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”A similar phrase of my own that has been true in my experience, is that there can be no deep love in marriage, without a fear of being alone again.
Finally, here’s something else for free for any men viewers: I am more satisfied with one woman than I was with many. I can already hear some men saying; “negro please”, and I can hear other’s quiet skepticism. So let’s discuss it; what about other women? Am I saying I haven’t been tempted to be with other women at all? Nope… Only that I have been more satisfied with one than I have with many. The desire to have sex with other women who are not my wife is a mindset I strive to resist, but exposing that desire helps me to see how selfish and twisted my heart is untouched by God’s higher standard for me as a man, and this is what compels me to strive to become a better one. I personally strive to be disgusted functioning as a wild man with uncontrolled sexual appetites for women who are not my wife. But what about sex? Isn’t it boring having sex with the same person? That question assumes two false narratives; that married people don’t have great sex lives, and that sex itself is “the” most important thing about marriage. First, if someone thinks that all married folk are doomed to be bored sexually with each other over the course of time, they are greatly misinformed. Second, sex indeed is important but it has not been my experience that it is “the” most important thing about marriage. Seeking a marriage that guaranteed great sex may have caused me to neglect securing more important qualities that have proved to help keep my marriage strong. When issues arise in a marriage, great sex alone will likely not be enough to handle them. So yea… I’ll let the viewer do whatever they want with that, just sharing my experience.
In conclusion, I have a wife I don’t deserve. She is the most important person to me on earth. She is more important than my son, more important than my parents, and even more important than me. She is still my Ride or Die, my best friend, and my partner for life. Being married to my wife has been over and over again a blessing to me.