On our journeys around the globe this week and next, I’m writing letters home to my girls about things I wish I’d packed and prepared for this life-long journey of marriage. These are four things I wish I’d known right from the beginning that would have better prepared me for this strange and exhilarating task of loving a man for the rest of forever.
For those of you not-yet-married, lean in and listen well. You’ll need to know these truths.
For those of you married many years, remember…
He is the One who lavishes love on you when you don’t deserve it. And He has enough left-over love to give you the grace to start anew and begin loving your man skillfully and well.
PACKING LIST ITEM #1
For the past several days Phil and I have been with each other 24/7, crammed into too tight airplanes, sharing suitcase space and water bottles, enduring jet lag and sweltering humidity. Not exactly a formula for romance.
Or is it? Might I frame it this way instead?
For the past several days Phil and I have relished time with each other, flying around the world, eating exotic foods, enjoying sunshine and fascinating cultures and unprecedented beauty. A lovely romantic time in our lives.
Which scenario is true?
This is either a stressful, uncomfortable trip to endure as best we can… or it’s a delightful, intriguing adventure together.
The fact is:
I can choose how I feel.
I get to decide how I feel about the daily realities of life. I am not a slave to my feelings.
When a woman is single... she can choose to delight in this unique time to serve God unencumbered. She can choose to take time to develop and grow and explore who she is as a woman. She can pour herself into relationships with abandon.
Or… she can complain about being lonely and wish she were married and blast all the men who really ought to “step up to the plate” and ask her on a date.
When a woman is pregnant... she can choose to align herself with the Creator of life and relish the miracle her body is making.
Or… she can complain and whimper and groan about all the ways she is experiencing discomfort in the process.
When a woman is married... she can choose to love her husband. She can breathe in the scent of him, run her hands over his muscles, delight in all his maleness.
Or… she can try to take all that testosterone and tame it by wishing he were capable of being her BFF and listening sympathetically and sensitively just like a girl.
Oh how I wish I had known this truth 35 years ago!
I not only enslaved myself to my overly tender, easily hurt feelings, I practically tied my poor husband in knots. The guy could barely go a day without stepping on my toes in that perfectly innocent obliviousness of a man with better things to do than walk on egg shells.
Now I know that…
Marriage can be either a delightful game of discovery together or a continual contest of one will against the other.
It’s my choice.
Do I get on board and join my man, giving all that I am, relishing all that he is, trusting God to meet my needs as I pour myself into meeting his?
Or do I demand that he love me the way I want to be loved and insist he meet me at the half-way point?
It’s my choice.
Do I let my feelings sabotage my joy?
Or do I allow the Spirit of God to overcome my feelings when I choose to love His way rather than demand my own?
It’s my choice.
And that, my dear girls, is something I wish I’d known 35 years ago when I married Phil.
From my heart,
P.S. Have you had the delight of making a choice and finding your emotions catch up with what you know is true? Can you tell us about it? Was it hard? Surprising? What helped you choose rightly?
I am loving the honesty of your responses. Sharing your stories of both triumphs and regrets is the best way I know to bring courage to each other. Keep ‘em coming!