I’ve never been a big fan of those who seek to give advice on something they’ve done for only a short time. It annoys me. I’ve been even less of a fan of most things I read on marriage—especially from those closer to my age. And that is exactly why I plan to achieve both of these goals in what follows.
That sounded pretty arrogant after such a humble beginning, didn’t it? Heh. Well. Attempted humble beginning. It’s humble if I describe it as such, right? I hope you laughed when reading that. Then again. My online attempts at humor generally fall flat. Alas.
Now. Honestly? I agree fully with my first two opening sentences. And that is why I will actually attempt to do neither. I’d personally prefer to just do the whole example thing for about three decades before attempting to impart any wisdom beyond the lines of the Bible. But. In honor of my amazing wife’s birthday, I do want to mention a few brief things I have personally loved and learned about being married to her. Emphasis on few things… if I listed more, my three devoted readers would never finish this post. These two areas may blur a bit because I love what I’ve learned too. But please don’t ruin my euphoria over having two “L” things to talk about. And these aren’t commands. Not steps to a better marriage. Just observations (hopefully). And for what it’s worth… I hate most list blogging (i.e. “10 things that…” “9 reasons for…” etc.) and yet I will partake here against my better judgment. Lists just sound way too “click-baity” to me. So maybe if I make two lists in one post, it won’t count? Anyway…
What I’ve Loved
- Sarah loves planning trips to different places—even if it’s a mere 10 minutes away. I have always liked going to new places but I often have the tendency to get wrapped up in other things and therefore never actually act on those thoughts. But now, because of Sarah, she ensures that I actually act on many of those impulses to go somewhere new or try something new. More joy.
- Sarah makes me have difficult conversations. She is the anti-stuffer type personality. Which is awesome for a guy like me who can find it more “economical” to ignore certain issues. She wants relational health. She wants godliness in all areas. I’ve learned much from her because of her seriousness for reconciliation. And I love it. More joy.
- Sarah decorates awesome. She has one million different ideas for how to make our home more “cozy” or whatever the tagline is at the moment. I’ve learned to love natural light. I’ve learned to be okay with a “quick trip to Target”—which obviously means a two hour time cap. I’ve learned how every detail matters in order for something to really come together and be “cute.” Why do I like this? It forces me to activate the dormant creative side of my brain. Maybe even get in touch with my “feelings” or something weird like that. More joy.
- Sarah loves God. And not a cursory love—a real one. She actually cares about becoming more like Christ and learning more about him. She longs for more of God. Visibly. She longs for an unmoved faith in Christ. She longs for a sweeter communion with the Spirit. For instance. She is currently reading a systematic theology book. When she reads she can’t help but tell me all her thoughts and she asks all sorts of excellent questions. We then get to ponder how good and great our God is. I like that. More joy.
- Sarah has an excellent perspective on people… and my stuff. First, she is excellent at identifying people’s pain and troubles and encouraging and confronting them. This is a spiritual gift from God. It will and does serve the church well. Second, she tells me what portions of my stuff need to finally be thrown out after 9 years of wear. Painful but freeing. Goodbye beloved polo. More joy.
- Sarah is ferociously loyal. This woman would stick by my side if I said it was a good idea to walk barefoot in a blizzard for 10 miles. She would stick by my side if I said it was a good idea to become an insectarian (my made up word for eating insects only… haven’t you heard? It’s all the rage for the hipsters out there). This woman speaks highly of me to every person she knows about my life and character—constantly. She gives glowing reports to her friends right after I was ignorant and uncaring toward her. She embodies loyalty toward me. What did I do to deserve such a devoted and loving wife? Nothing. God is good. More joy.
What I’ve Learned
- Leadership matters. I’ll be honest. I tried the whole egalitarian thing to some extent functionally. I thought I could inject some of its principles into my practical life while maintaining a different view. I tried to not allow for distinct roles between male and female. I tried to be a complementarian (i.e. distinct role gifting’s between gender) in thought and only somewhat in practice depending on the circumstance. Not only is that practice not biblical, it simply doesn’t work. Maybe you are the exception. Maybe God is pretty gracious and blesses you in spite of it. But from my own personal experience… it’s an utter failure waiting to happen. The man must assume the leadership role and lead well. This obviously is not a domineering or flat out obnoxious leadership—the kind you normally see and most react so violently against. Leadership that matters is gracious, humble, gentle, and serving—yet it is still strong and convictional. I think if every man learned to be the tough and tender leader that Jesus portrays for us, we would all be able to leave behind a lot of problems. More joy.
- Sarah cares deeply for certain people and endeavors and desires to give sacrificially to them. She learned this tremendous trait from her Dad (shout out to Mr. Johnston). I have the tendency to want to hold my money tight. To hold my time tight. I want to hold my stuff in general. I want to clench my fists around my things and be selfish. But Sarah pushes to give. To value. To love. Generosity is at the core of Christianity. Through watching Sarah I have been convicted and know this is one area I must continue to grow in. More joy.
- I can be patient sometimes. Most times, even if my face screams: “wow, that guy is really patient!” deep down, I am actually the opposite. I am the curmudgeon. I am plotting every possible way to bypass patience. My blood pressure is close to volcanic proportions. But, because of Sarah, I have been pressed to relax and become far more patient. More joy.
- I have a tendency to be a perfectionist. I generally think I can do things better than everyone else on the planet. At the minimum I like doing things my way better. But with Sarah I have learned to let go of weird personal preferences. Most of my idiosyncrasies have now been placed where they belong: the garbage dump. Sarah also has taken her theology of God and his complete care for us in all aspects and put it into practice. When she came down with some serious sickness this past year she trusted God—that nothing was outside of his will. She clung tightly to his utter sovereignty. I learned to trust more by watching her trust. More joy.
- I know I mentioned this in the love section but it has been such a profound learning aspect for me I had to mention it twice. Sarah deeply cares about reconciling relationships. She takes seriously the Bible when it commands to not let the sun go down on your anger. I have learned so much in this because of her and her commitment to reconciliation. More joy.
- Eye contact. Sarah not only has a love language, she also has a hate language. And at the top of her hate language is poor eye contact. Example: If she begins to talk to me and I pick up my phone when it vibrates to check a text or if I begin to look around for something—even if it is pertinent to the conversation—she doesn’t like it. Why is this good? It teaches me to value the other person. I shouldn’t be only giving someone half of my attention. I know our culture doesn’t teach this. But I should give my whole attention to anyone… especially my wife. More joy.
I hope you noticed a common theme. More joy. Jonathan Edwards says “they that have much grace will be likely to have much communion with God, and so consequently will have much joy.” My marriage to Sarah has brought forth grace, communion with God, and the resultant joy. Because of her, I have experienced grace as I have had to repent of many sins. I have experienced communion with God as I have learned the Trinitarian shaped nature of all things. I have experienced more joy as God has shown me love and fatherly discipline. How good and gracious is God to allow me to have a covenant commitment to another image bearer and journey with her toward greater submission to him and greater joy. God has placed shadows of himself and his Trinitarian love and joy in all things. Marriage is one of them. Through Sarah, God has allowed me to participate in knowing his love and joy to a greater degree—yet still dimly. How exciting is that? Marriage, while one of the greatest earthly pleasures, is but a shadow to the joy of union with Christ? Excitement.
Before I end, let me answer a burning question for some of you readers. What about the singles? Does this mean they get less joy? In a word: no. In more words: no, because. No, because the Bible says so. No, because there can be great joy in the shadow of particular sacrifices only singles can make for the kingdom. God uniquely blesses the single with joy that the married do not experience. The single life should not be downplayed due to the joys of the married life. Both glorify God. Both are unique. Both should be treasured. I am thankful to participate in marriage. But others are thankful to participate in singleness. Both should be upheld and lived to the glory of God. Both experience joy when lived within the pleasures of God.
To end. You’re right. I have much more to learn. I have a long way to go. So. Tune in next decade with the treasure trove of loves and learnings that will surely be gleaned. Until then, know that God is good. He has given me the greatest of all wives. She loves me. She challenges me. She cares for me. She is a blessing from God.
So. In a nutshell: I love my wife and love being married to her. God is awesome. Thankful.