I've never really been a fan of the movie "Princess Bride," but whenever I think of the moment a priest/pastor/minister stands in front of a hopeful young couple, I think of the lisping priest from that movie. "Luv..." he says, "is what it's all about."
But sometimes, marriage is about work. I live in one of the easiest marriages I know, but I'm telling you sometimes it's just plain hard. We haven't had the easiest week, the Beve and I. We've been like a skipping record, stuck in the same unhealthy groove. I'm a brooder, I admit. So sometimes I hold things against him that are ridiculous. I expect him to know what's wrong with me without having to tell him, and God forbid that I have to explain how he's supposed to respond to me. I want him to know instinctively, to understand and say the right words without having fed them to him. I expect him to be inside my head and heart and 'get me' and when he doesn't. When he says, "I don't know what you want me to say/do," I pull back into my shell and don't let him in. I mean, if he doesn't know, I'm sure not going to tell him! So there.
This attitude has served me well over the last 25 years, let me tell you. By that I mean, I have caused myself no end of damage. Yeah, I can confidently say that most of the pain I feel at these moments is self-inflicted. By not helping Beve to know me, I am keeping him from what might actually help.
I want it to come easily, this two-becoming-one stuff. It's like we're in a three-legged race, trying to get our strides to match...and they don't always. Sometimes we walk, even run smoothly, arms around each other, helping each other on toward to the goal of Christ. But other times, our strides are just too different, and we trip over each other. He's a legal giant, you know. I'm 14 inches shorter than him. That makes for some pretty awkward steps for each of us. And we're as different on the inside as well. I tend to make decisions quickly, tend to plan things in my head without having to talk about every step, and plowing through tasks quickly so I can get back to the business of life. That's just how I look at errands, jobs, etc. He's more of a meanderer through life. Goes to write a letter, ends up taking apart the pen. Starts home from work, gets side-tracked into some extra errand. He's active, I'm reflective. He lives with his feet on the ground, I live with my head in the clouds.
But it's Beve's very otherness that so appeals to me. His ability to be in every moment, to see what is needed to serve and to meet that need before it's even expressed. He stretches me to look at the world through his eyes, to see others with his large compassionate, well-grounded heart. To not merely see this life as a metaphor for Eternity, but as a reality that could be better for many people.
Marriage is the proving ground for us, I think. It's the furnace in which God purifies us and polishes us into gold. If we are to become His, and we have a spouse, we must count on the fact that that spouse is His agent for growth, change, transformation in our lives. And that doesn't mean they always do what we ask to help that change. Sometimes, they do the very opposite of what we want. Just like sometimes God does the very opposite of what we want, engaged instead in the doing of what we need. Sometimes, Beve doesn't respond as I want--and he's wrong. But sometimes what I want is wrong, and I must learn the difference. Not take it out on him.
I wouldn't be in this three-legged race with anyone else, not even someone closer to my size, temperament, inclinations. Sure, that might be an easier race superficially, but it wouldn't be the race God is in. God is like that rubber band, tying our legs together. He made it clear from the very outset, that we were meant to take our unlike sizes, our different interests and temperaments, and ways of being, and combine them to become "us." From that moment on, we became each other's only option for this marriage race. We have to work out our marriage, just as we work out our salvation--with fear and trembling, and--AND--because it is God who is at work between us, IN us.
Mawwiage, it's a wonderful state.