As we walked home from a fancy celebratory dinner I turned to him and asked. “In what ways am I better than who you married 10 years ago?” Without much hesitation he said, “You’re more emotionally stable and I’d say you have a better sense of who you are now.”
I paused, looked him over and declared, “Oh, well you’ve got a better sense of style and you’re more humble now too, so there!”
With sarcasm behind a feigned arrogant nod he emphatically agreed “Why yes, I AM more humble now.” I winked and then we kept walking the evening streets of New York together. In my mind I ruminated on how the influence of one another has most certainly contributed to these newer truths.
Perhaps, we will make a new anniversary tradition of reflecting on how our two-into-oneness has made us better than we could have been as two individual ones.
“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Mark 10:6-8
We are ten years in now and we are still finding our way, or rather surrendering ourselves over to that miracle of oneness through marriage. I’d say we continually work to not be enslaved to our own identities, instead seeking the freedom found in oneness together with Christ.
I don’t mean to make it sound easy, cause it sure as heck ain’t, but I’ve tasted enough of the FREEDOM, found in binding myself to another through marriage to know that it’s worth pursuing, praying for, defending and sometimes downright fighting for.
I could write about each of the following in great detail, but for the sake of this post let me just summarize. For me, FREEDOM in marriage looks like:
Freedom to make decisions– as someone who ping-pongs between impulsivity and overthinking, I found that having a partner in life’s decisions has actually freed me up to move forward confidently. When I’m weighing the options, it’s helpful to have a husband and the accountability to our Faith to guide us. From the big decisions like buying a house, giving a tithe, stay-at-home parenting, and adopting to the smaller stuff like does this shirt go with this tie, should we pay for Netflix, carpet or hardwood floor, camping or cabin… I’m grateful to have another voice to make decisions together.
Freedom to just be who I am– I can’t be and do all things at all times. That reality can be a hard pill to swallow, especially in our culture. The temptation to do it all on our own is ever-present. Thankfully, in marriage I can surrender some of the being and doing over to my partner. (For example: He’s good with money, I’m good with adventure!)
Freedom to lose control– Yes, there is freedom to be found in that yucky word: compromise. Shhh, don’t tell the world our secret. Culture seems to think that keeping a tight grip on what we want to do/say/believe all the time is freedom but I’ve learned that maintaining a tight grip is tiring. Selfishness hasn’t lead to freedom, but rather exhaustion. When we move through marriage with willingness to compromise, my spouse and I get to enjoy the adventure and efficiency of walking in step together. And when I hold myself accountable to the oneness of marriage, it’s easier to leave behind the worldly temptations that try to pull me away. I’m more apt to be spirit led when I set aside the self.
HOPE in marriage is HARD. I know! Early in the journey, marriage didn’t feel like freedom when we shed ourselves of friendships that didn’t fortify our marriage. Five years in, it didn’t feel like freedom to fork over hundreds of dollars to a counselor who was walking us through how to heal splintered trust. When 7 years made me feel itchy, praying for closeness while losing sleep on my tear-dampened pillow sure didn’t feel like freedom either.
But I’m here, past the 10-year mark, telling you truthfully that this marriage milestone feels like victory! We’ve beat out the 32% of marriages that end by this mark. As a competition-loving couple (imagine heated board games, and intense Fitbit challenges), I think that’s reason alone to celebrate! Marriage has freed me up to be a better me.
Hopers, if this stage of marriage feels hopeless and hard, I encourage you to bathe your union in prayer. I’ve seen the fruits of prayerful patience and the blossoming of healing work in my own marriage.
Hopers, if this season has you wanting, clinging to the hope of marriage someday, I pray God gives you freedom from loneliness. I pray He fills your life with His will and meets you with closest intimacy.
And if today finds you grieving a marriage ended-too-soon, I pray for freedom from despair. I pray for a rootedness in holy peace. I pray for courage to let Hope bloom anew.