The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Choosing to be happily married
Before my darling husband had even proposed we had several in-depth discussions about the nature of marriage. We both recognised that the day and age in which we live is not very supportive of marriage. It is too easy to give up at the first sign of a problem. Spending years dating and learning to end relationships only adds to a persons experience the hidden message that it is perfectly acceptable to walk away when a relationship gets tough.
Rob and I never actually dated. We lived 5000 miles apart, so dating was not exactly a high priority for us anyway. Regardless of our physical proximity to each other, we both knew that dating was not a good idea. We were friends. At first we started writing monthly letters to each other. This was a good time of getting to know the basics of each others' lives. Then after several months I went to visit some other friends in Florida for two months. During that time we spent more time together deepening our friendship. I discovered that Rob preferred telephone conversations to letter writing. So we began to chat on the telephone as well as write letters. It was during this time that we had found out enough about each other to consider the other as a potential spouse. We had one conversation about the nature of our relationship, and agreed we would continue to be friends while we both prayed for God's leading if anything else was to come of it.
Another few trips across the Atlantic Ocean, (one for me and two for him), and we were still friends seeking God's will. I already knew God was leading me to Florida, and had secured a job at the school operated by Rob's Church. However the legalities of immigration got in the way and I was never in the position to take the job.
When we realised I would not be moving for the job we began to have more serious discussions about the future. I knew he was thinking about us marrying, but I was certainly not expecting a proposal when it came. Rather I knew he was coming to visit later in the year for my sister's wedding. I figured if he proposed it would be then. I was shocked to say the least when a few months before that I received a letter from Rob that would change my life. My dear sweet husband proposed in a letter. He knew how much I enjoyed letters, and it would be something to keep forever.
Once engaged we got down to discussing the hard facts and truths about marriage. It was much more real now that we were discussing specifics rather than just general ideals. We agreed that divorce would never be an option for us. However we also agreed that being unhappily married was also not an option for us. We were choosing right from the beginning to be happily married for the rest of our lives.
But what does that mean in practical terms. Simply put it means we choose to make sure each other are happy. We choose to be "in-love" with each other. I can honestly say we were not "in-love" with each other before we got married. Love is a choice, not a feeling. We chose each other, and every day we continue to choose each other above all else. I do things he likes because I know he likes them. Rob really enjoys that when he comes home from work dinner is on the table, or almost ready to be. He is tired and hungry when he gets home. This has become important to me because it pleases him. I always try to have dinner ready, or almost ready during the week. He works hard to support us, the least I can do is support him. Rob also likes to get up early, even on a Saturday. I don't. I've never been a morning person. I like staying up late talking or reading. I choose to always go to bed when he does, and get up and have breakfast with him in the morning. I do this because I choose to have a happily ever after in my marriage. It isn't all one way either. Rob lets me get into bed first whenever there are clean sheets on the bed, just because he knows I like that. He will even sit snuggled up with me on the sofa to chat, just because he knows I like the physical closeness.
Choosing to be happily married is a comitment. It is remembering those vows from our wedding and meaning them anew every day. It is working through misunderstandings and breaks in communication quickly, as soon as they happen. This is not always easy. I don't particularly like this part of marriage. I can sometimes enjoy the sense of power that comes from Rob knowing he has upset me. But if I hold on to that it will be like a cancer that will spread and destroy our marriage. Instead we will sit down at the kitchen table and discuss whatever just happened. It usually begins with me asking if he knows why I'm upset with him. Rob is usually clueless the first time he has done something. So I explain why I'm upset and then it doesn't happen a second time. If I've upset him we do the same, though he is harder to upset. It doesn't matter what we are doing, we stop and talk it over. That stops roots of bitterness from growing between us.
Choosing to be happily married is looking out for each other. Rob and I have quite similar personalities in many ways. This can be a good thing, but not always. We both have a tendancy to become short with each other if we get over-tired or our blood sugar is low (isn't that true of everyone though.) So we have to look out for each other in this area. For Rob there is no point discussing anything important late in the evening. He is too tired and won't remember. Instead we leave serious discussions until breakfast if possible. If either of us becomes short tempered the other will suggest it's time for a snack or rest. We don't try to resolve much if one of us is in need of food or rest, it's a pointless exercise. For us it's usually Rob needing rest, or it's me needing food. He gets up early every day and runs at full speed all day long, making him more likely to need rest than me. I don't have too solid a schedule to my day, so sometimes I forget to eat regularly. That makes me more likely to have low blood sugar. Knowing this we look out for each other, choosing to protect each other and our marriage.
Choosing to be happily married is choosing to put the other person before ourselves. It will be seen in different ways for each individual couple. It is choosing to be selfless instead of selifsh. If you are already married it means you no longer think as I, but rather as we. Instead of focusing on what you want, think on what your beloved would want. You pour yourself into them, and let them pour themselves into you. If you are considering marriage ask yourself if you truly want to serve that person every single day for the rest of your lives, because that is what it is going to take. Marriage isn't all moonlight and romance. Marriage is the everyday, day by day, service for the benefit of your spouse. Some choices are more difficult than others, but choosing happily ever after should not be one of them.
Today we each have a choice. I know what I am choosing, do you?