For some reason, I have Beyonce’s tune “All The Single Ladies” running through my head right now, which is strange since I am constructing a post about marriage. I’ve been asked by a reader to give some insight on how I balance my needs with the needs of my husband. However, as I sit to cypher through all of my experience and knowledge on the subject, I can’t help but think of how different it is to be single! When you are single, your decisions are made with only one opinion that truly matters. Your desires and dreams are only complicated by inner turmoil, rather than disapproving looks across the dinner table, or competing (and sometimes conflicting) desires. There’s no external force (or puppy dog eyes) to dual with. Ultimately the decision (and consequence) is yours and yours alone.
I am certainly not romancing the single life. I know far too many incredible women who would love the comfort and beauty of a loving, committed relationship but so far, their prince charming remains elusive. I believe that taking a look at the single life, helps to bring clarity to the married life. There are HUGE changes that occur once we have more than ourselves to consider and it’s so important that we make those changes if our relationship is going to not only survive, but thrive.
First of all, let me give this strong emphatic disclaimer: I am NOT a marriage expert nor will I EVER claim to be! Every day I learn something new about sharing my life with my husband, which keeps me feeling more like a student cramming for an exam, rather than the teacher with the answer key. However, there are certain basic principles that I have learned over the years, which must be present daily if I am going to be successful in sharing my life, my hopes and my dreams with my husband.
The first is this: you are on the SAME TEAM. So if one of your players isn’t doing well, the team isn’t doing well! Take the time to check in with each other and be honest about where you feel like you are on ‘Team (put in your own last name)’. Are you starting quarterback? Have you been benched for a while? Injured? Desperately wanting to be traded? The team is ONLY going to thrive if you look at exactly where you both are, and then devise a plan that moves each of you toward feeling useful and important in the other’s life.
Secondly, dreams are highly overrated! Ok. I know people aren’t going to like this one – and that’s ok! But listen – it’s important to do what you love, but don’t love what you do MORE than your spouse! What we love, we think about, put time into, work towards and if your career, dream, vision is taking the driver seat in your relationship and leaving your spouse at home – it’s time to re-evaluate whether it’s worth it. Who is going to be there and care for you when you’re sick, worried, tired, desperate? Who will walk with you hand in hand through bad news, anxiety, stress? Who will choose to forgive you because they know that they promised to, no matter how difficult? Answer: Not your job. Your spouse. I also find that it goes a long way to remind yourself that at one point in your life your spouse was the one who had your undivided attention. They were your dream, your vision, your desire. Sounds sappy – but your marriage is actually one of your dreams come true!
I’ve kept this last point until the end probably because it’s the most difficult to swallow and even more difficult to execute: always be willing to compromise your own desires. I have to stress here that this ONLY works if both parties are in agreement – but when they are, it’s magic! If I am willing to compromise, bend the knee, see the other side, ask for forgiveness first AND my spouse is willing to do the same, you finally have the recipe for true togetherness. The biblical concept of marriage is the idea that the husband and wife become one flesh (and we’re not just talking about sex here!). It is a beautiful picture of a husband and wife clinging so closely to one another that there is no longer separate needs, desires, dreams, pain, struggles but all is felt by the other. However, the tough part to swallow is that you can only have this amazing togetherness, by giving up your ‘right’ to complete autonomy. By giving up the individual self, you gain something so much more. A chair only becomes something strong, sturdy and dependable when the two pairs of legs decide to give up their individuality and bear the weight together.
I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of just how difficult it can be to be married sometimes, and what it means to ‘balance’ my own needs with the needs of my husband. But I can tell you this: I no longer have ‘All the Single Ladies’ running through my head but a movie quote. In one of mine and Brad’s favourite movies The Family Man (which we watch every Christmas) there is a line that they say to each other when things get tough, and though it may seem simplistic, these three little words encapsulate what has taken me three paragraphs! And if we as married people can say this every day, with a full heart, no matter what the circumstance, no matter what the trial, then, in the end we will be ok. Take a deep breath each time, look at your spouse and say: “I choose US.”
Becoming Ordinary: Year 1 Day 81