Going on sixteen years of a healthy marriage can lend itself to a certain illusion of wisdom and the sense of having arrived. That sounds very conceited and hopelessly snobby and braggy but seriously, you've kind of heard it all by now.
He needs respect, she needs love; yes. Men's minds have boxes, women's minds are all interconnected; yup. He can't read her mind; uh huh. Men and women don't speak the same language; tell me about it.
It gets to the point where you even start recognizing the examples speakers use before they ever get to their punch line: "So, let's say you're taking your wife out to eat. You ask her, 'Where would you like to eat, honey?'........." Yeah, yeah, yeah. For the record, when I say I don't care where we eat, I really don't care but I know what your point's gonna be.
By sixteen years, it's pretty rare that you hear a new idea on marriage. I mean, you just know all this stuff now.
If I'm perfectly honest though, the truth about nearly sixteen years of marriage is that I'm still learning. I'm still coming up against instances that threaten to tear my marriage apart; days when I am sure my mistakes can never be forgiven; faults that I am sure I will never understand how to deal with. It's one thing to know all the marriage wisdom and teaching in the world, it's another thing entirely to believe it and remember it in the moment. And sometimes you do hear things said in a different way that make you say, Oh. Really? Never thought of it quite like that before.
Tuesday Chris took a day off just to take me shopping. Should I repeat that? Don't hate me, I know he's amazing! He took me to Holmes County to shop fabric and thrift stores just because he likes me. No birthday, No anniversary or Valentine's day.... Ok. I'll stop.
Anyway, if you'll remember, he has this thing about thrift stores and old cassettes. While I head straight for the clothes, shoes and purses, he makes his way to check out the tape selection. Our very first stop, he came away with a stack of four. One was a cassette our oldest loved when he was three that had long since gotten lost, I could hardly believe my eyes! Another was this gem:
Never heard of the guy but we "got to know him" on our drive home. We even each had our "Really?" moments as we listened.
He broke this news to the men - "You're never going to be as appreciated as you think you should be." Really? Did you know that's how the men feel, ladies? My husband sure agreed with him anyway.
And he told this story, "My wife can come from the back bedroom as if a nuclear blast just took place in the back bedroom. She'll come out, kinda droopy, falling apart about what just happened. She'll sit next to me on the couch. She will tell me her problem in the back bedroom, and I - in all my wisdom and knowledge and vast counseling experience (7 years of Greek, 3 1/2 years of Hebrew) - give her the answer to her problem in the back bedroom. Now she turns on me. She doesn't want an answer to her problem in the back bedroom! No woman wants an answer. All she wants to know is, do you care? Hu? Do you care that a nuclear blast just took place in the back bedroom? That's all I wanna know! Because, if you care, then I'll go back and clean it up. But, if you don't care, there will be another nuclear blast right here in the living room!" I liked that story. And Chris will, undoubtedly, try the seemingly absurd "I'm so sorry, I really care" line sometime to see if it actually works.
Yes, marriage. I wonder how God came up with something so intricately complicated?
The true blessing of nearly sixteen years of a healthy marriage is this: When real life happens - When there are misunderstandings; when you don't speak each other's language; when you are in the moment and forget all the marriage wisdom and teaching you ever heard, underneath it all there is a solid knowing. You've crossed rivers and built bridges with this person; you've soared and fallen and gotten up again; you've loved and been loved. At the end of the day, you're still learning but the strength of the knowing propels you on to dig deeper and love more perfectly.