Chris and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and it got me thinking. We certainly are different people than the ones that said “I do” 40 years ago. So much has happened, so much has changed. The best part is that our relationship today is better than I ever dreamed it could be. So, I really started thinking; over the years, what have we learned?
First, We learned TO LOVE
I can still remember where I was sitting some 39+ years ago, complaining to God about my new wife. She wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted and I didn’t like having to adjust. That’s when I felt the Holy Spirit break into my complaints and the discussion went something like this.
God: “Who’s idea was this?” And I knew He meant the marriage.
Me: “Well, I think it was your idea that I marry her.” At least I was pretty sure of that.
God: “Then why do you think I picked her for you?”
That question took the conversation in a completely different direction than I was expecting. My mind flashed back to the early Genesis story of Adam and Eve, about two being one, about being partners in life to serve the purpose of God. That’s when it hit me. God sent Chris into my life because I needed to learn how to love her.
That understanding changed my life. It lead to this: God sent Chris into my life, because the shortest distance to the best me, is learning how to love her. I will best fulfill God’s call on my life by learning how to love my spouse. That is the goal of marriage, to teach us to love one person whole-heartedly. Whatever changes are required to do that – those changes are the fastest way to become the best you.
40 years later I’m still learning that. I admit, learning to love her is much easier now, but it still is the shortest route to becoming what God wants me to be.
Second, We learned ABOUT each other
It’s hard to love someone when you don’t know what’s going on inside them. We need to invest in exploring what our partners think, what they want, what they fear and what they hope for. There is so much to learn.
What do they want to be? To do? To enjoy? What are they seeing now? What challenges are they tempted to avoid? How can I come alongside to strengthen them? To encourage them?
It can be easy as time goes on to think that you know everything about someone. But we change, we grow, and who we are and what we want also changes as we grow. Chris and I have made learning about each other a continual pursuit.
But, HOW we learn about each other is also important. It is important to learn with respect, with honor and without criticism and judgement. We learn in order to bless and support – to love.
It is not easy for me to distill 40 years of learning into one short post. So, this conversation will continue in my next post. In the meantime, those of you who are married, what are you learning? Can you share it with us?