3 lessons on 8 years of marriage
Allow me to re-introduce you to my wife, Tatenda. This woman courageously said yes to marry me over 8 years ago. Was it a good idea? Hahaha the jury is still out on that one. I must say, she certainly did take that bold leap to walk life with a guy with many flaws and warped beliefs. Recently we got to celebrate 8 years of marriage, and in there I got to thinking about what life has been like in the world of marriage so far. Here’s what I thought I knew that quickly taught me otherwise.
1. You don’t know what you don’t know
I remember the day I proposed like it was yesterday. I had planned what I could and committed everything else to God, and you best believe God came through. I will spare you the details because many of you already know how that happened. But fast forward to our wedding day. The day we jumped the broom and became husband and wife. It was special and unique. Special in the sense that I got to understand what it meant to be a ball of tears when you see your bride walking down the aisle, unique because we experienced this with our church family and not our immediate family (the life of an immigrant). Nevertheless it was a special moment in our lives.
Bright eyed and having made this commitment, I foolishly told myself that our marriage would be different. That we would never do, or say things that other unions did. We would always be happy and I would be that amazing husband that would forever have the strength and maturity to carry us through trial and tribulation. What did I know? Our first year was the proverbial honeymoon, but year two started showing what distinctly categorizes year one as the honeymoon phase. Needless to say, I got the shock of my life when I learnt that what I thought I was, I really wasn’t. I didn’t have the answers when extended family drama crept in. I didn’t know how to deal with birth control, I had no clue what fighting fair was, nor did I understand that the things that matter often times are in the times you intentionally listen to the ones that are important. In not so many words - I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Is there an answer to this fact of life? Well, marriage has allowed me to grasp the fact that there is so much value in listening intently. I understand that now because the two most important people to listen to are God and your spouse. Listen to God because what you don’t know He will probably help you understand, and your spouse because you are in a life long relationship on earth and need to understand each other. The marriage experience may be similar but the participants are different. You don’t know what you don’t know but God knows all.
2. Priorities in the right order are critical
It’s so easy to get caught up in the demands of work, pursuit of happiness, or raising the little bundles of joy/stress. Over the 8 years of our union we’ve gotten to figure out that there’s so much we don’t know and have to weather the storms to become more fit for purpose. In hindsight, it’s fascinating to see how much stronger and intentional we are about what we do with our time. With such lessons you begin to realize that setting priorities, and most importantly, in the right order makes the marriage journey less complicated.
What are my priorities? Simply put, God, Wife, Kids, then everything else that needs my attention. God will remain the most important part of this equation because He’s not only the reason I exist but everything to do with me is found in Him. When I miss the mark I know that I can get the best lessons, correction, and direction from Him. There’s absolutely no one on this planet who can supersede that.
Tatenda comes second in this equation because we have made the choice to walk together. This is no cakewalk as you may now realize about marriage, but through the journey there is often times the need to reach back to our first priority in order to understand each other and what we’re in. The same applies to the third priority, the kids. If marriage doesn’t teach you, parenting will. These little people will show you and teach you all your flaws and then some. But so far, it has to be highly thought provoking and a representation of what God has to deal with when he deals with us.
3. Trust is your greatest currency
You only realize how important trust is when you have to work at regaining it. In marriage it comes in different forms. In some relationships it may simply be in how you conduct yourself when dealing with finances, for others it’s how well you keep a spousal conversation private, either way you soon learn that trust comes at a premium.
I think of stages in our marriage where I’ve had to work hard to redeem trust over something I thought was a minuscule thing. It took stepping back, working hard to try look at things from my person’s perspective, not getting it, but choosing to accept that if it’s important to her and tethers on trust bankruptcy then I had better take it seriously. The thing with trust, 8 years in, is that you begin to fully connect with the realities that give trust its worth. In the world of marriage, trust means I’m going to take your side against the world, it means I’m going to become better at being your cover when all else leaves you hanging, it is a proclamation of loyalty between the two of you that no one has to know about the hard work but everyone can see the fruit. Trust is a premium currency of a marriage.
One of the key facets of trust is grasping the fact that how you tie it to your character breeds the results you need in your union. What I mean by this is that if you consciously work at a characteristic that doesn’t make your significant other question your actions in their absence then your trust stock will always trend upwards. If someone happens to bring some news about your behaviour to your spouse, and your character is in the right place, your spouse should not be brought to question your character because you are who anyone says you are wherever you are.
The journey continues, the lessons keep coming, and I must be honest, Tatenda has been right in saying that happiness is not the goal, holiness is. I couldn’t think of a better woman to walk towards holiness than Tatenda. Here’s to holiness to both the married and single.