Today marks my one-year wedding anniversary.
Lesson one: this post must necessarily be brief.
Humor aside, my debate yesterday on the subject of satanism and Christian relationships with non-Christians crystallized a lot of points of wisdom for me pertaining to relationships with people generally, and with spouses in particular. At the end of the day, Christianity is about relationships. It is little wonder that contempt is not only the defining character quality represented by the character Satan, but one of John Gottman’s four horseman of relational dissolution (the other three being criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling).
Both my wife and I have our struggles with these, but reflection tells me that we miss the point if, in our search for improving our relationships, we focus upon the fault in the other. Successful rhetoric and military strategy both begin with accepting the audience and opposing force on their own terms, with empathy. Love is no different. As tempting as it can be to find fault with our spouse, it is almost always more productive and empowering to consider first if anything actually needs to be done, and second, if I can modify my own behavior first.
It is a point I think many single young men miss these days, as they strive for and achieve goals in their own life. They take a kind of engineering view of human relationships, molding the world and their potential spouses to their will. This seems to never entirely work, because a woman is not like a man, and cannot be made into one. Nothing is more humbling to individual pride than marriage to a woman, and yet there is nothing of which I am more proud than my own.
There are times when I think about the road, and the solitary life I had before moving back. It is not nostalgic; I don’t miss it. I just remember it. It was a pleasant and care-free lifestyle, and one which holds a lot of attraction for young men. And yet now, looking back, the lifestyle is about as attractive as repeating a grade used to be in school. Marriage is more advanced, more enjoyable, more fulfilling, and ultimately, what all the previous work was for in the first place.
Evolutionarily speaking, anyways.
Perhaps after marriage there is something even more advanced and challenging, for which marriage itself was only preparation. If so, it will have to wait for another day.