Thursday, November 21, 2013

Learning from others

Wide awake at 3 AM the other morning I began thinking of how my marriage has benefited from others. Instead of counting sheep--because that has NEVER worked and seems a bit ridiculous from inside the flock, if you know what I mean!--I started counting marriages, and identifying the qualities that have touched or even convicted me/us to change how we practice ours.  Practice is a good word, come to think of it. We spend our lives practicing this thing we do together, working on it, paying attention to it, getting it right, backing up and figuring it out again when we've started down the garden path to a brick wall rather than a gate. Yep, it's a life-long practice, marriage is, and we do best to learn from each other. And by each other, I don't merely mean the person sleeping on the other pillow in our bed, but others who are also practicing their own.

So I thought it might be edifying (there's another good word!) for you already practicing, those who dream of practicing, and even those who know OTHERS in the practice, to share my list with you (sans names, as usual, of course).  Well, it's just part of my list, because otherwise, it'd be crazy-long--I did say I was trying to fall back asleep.

  1. My parents: From them I learned how easy it can be to apologize. My dad told me that once. My mother wasn't an easy person to love. She got mad quickly and loudly. And my dad apologized A LOT. Sometimes that actually made her even more mad. But it helped me take responsibility in my marriage quickly, rather than blaming Beve when I've really blown it.
  2. My aunt and uncle: They just plain liked each other better than any one I knew. They shared common interests, they slept (still sleep) in a regular double bed--though she's 5'10 and he's 6'2--and I wanted my marriage to look like theirs. 
  3. A couple of musicians: Intentionality. This is a couple with busy lives. I can't begin to tell you how busy. But their date-day is sacrosanct. They don't take it for granted, they don't take each other for granted, they are intentional in every part of how they treat each other and that time together. Always.
  4. our friends who moved away (and we still miss you!!!):  Their unwavering, deep, overwhelming support and belief in each other. I love listening to her talk about him and his gifts. She's so certain of who God's made him to be. Even when he doesn't always know it, SHE does. And he's there for her in the same way. It's pretty powerful.
  5. Two kinds of artists: There have been struggles in this journey together (as each journey as had, of course) but what has gotten to me is how he, M, said, "I'll be the wall!" Nothing will get past him, and she can do anything TO him, and he'll still stand there. You'd have to know more about them to understand, but it makes me cry to think of this. To learn from this. To be the WALL for each other. WOW.
  6. Across the country: From them I learned to love more fully. Or let my love fill in where there is a gap from others. And to wait, to hope against hope. To put hope to death and love anyway. To simply love. Theirs is a story of such deep love and commitment that you hardly ever see. EVER. No matter what was lost, no matter what MIGHT never come. And might be given back. And I keep learning from them what marriage commitment means. AND I learn from them what a gift can mean when IT comes. Finally. 
  7. a young married couple: This couple stopped for the day when they were passing through town a while back. She was pregnant, he was excited. We got to talking about marriage. We'd been married for many years, they only for a few. And he said, "One of the things I love most when she's upset is that she'll say, "I don't know if it's something I need to share with you or something I need to work out with God by myself." WOW. WOW. I learn from that. Took that away from that lunch and my spill-my-guts self immediately began to pray that I could practice that.
So there you go. 
I hope there's something here to edify you. 
Even just writing them down has re-affirmed and re-convicted me that there are ways to better practice marriage with my beloved Beve.

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