It’s hard to believe that this weekend Ike and I will be celebrating our first anniversary together!!! Has it really been a year already? As the deadline of our anniversary approaches, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’ve learned during this first year of marriage, and two things have stood out in particular:
1. Conflict is Not a Bad Thing
In the past year I’ve written a fair amount about working through conflict in marriage. Because of posts like the infamous dog fight analogy (a number of people have mentioned this one to me!), I’m sometimes afraid people get the wrong idea about my relationship with my husband. Although I’ve written more about conflict than concord, our year together has been surprisingly easy and abundantly full of blessings. The purpose of my transparency about the bumps along the way is to encourage others to embrace healthy conflict in their own relationships as a means for growing in intimacy.
I once had a seminary professor who commended Catholics for loving one another enough to fight. As he explained, the Catholic Church can fight amongst themselves and still remain united. Disagreement does not mean broken relationships, and there is a tremendous freedom in that kind of community. Well marriage is much the same. As sinners we will inevitably butt heads with one another, so an avoidance of conflict at all costs is to ignore the reality of our brokenness. Healthy conflict, on the other hand, is beautifully redemptive. As my husband once said, I am the person most able to hurt him, but I am also the person he is quickest to forgive. It is glorious to experience that kind of unconditional love and mercy, and it is truly a taste of the love we have from God.
All of that to say, conflict is not a bad thing that we should fear or seek to avoid. Don’t be a jerk, and don’t deliberately hurt one another, but in marriage God can use your differences to refine you both. I am learning to lean into this God-ordained discipline.
2. Christ’s Leadership was One of Service
My husband’s spiritual leadership has revolutionized the way I understand strong leadership. Although many Christians have interpreted spiritual leadership to primarily mean financial provision, while leaving the home duties to the wife, my husband has opened my eyes to a different way. In seeking to love me as Christ loves the church, my husband has served me most notably in the area of home-making…specifically, in the areas that I hate the most. I hate doing the dishes, I don’t like taking the dog out at night, and sometimes I’m too tired to cook dinner, so my husband steps in and provides. He lays himself down by doing tasks that the world might consider to be below him, but that is exactly what Christ did for the church. As the leader in our marriage Ike leads in service, not because he’s a passive doormat but just the opposite–he is strong. His identity in Christ is solid enough that there is no task that is below his care for me. Sometimes I feel so spoiled, and EVERY DAY I feel grateful for a husband as servant-hearted and Christ-centered as him. He truly exemplifies Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” I worship God more passionately because of my husband.
I will close with this thought:
When I was engaged to be married I was working as a college minister at the time, and I remember talking to a Freshman about when she would get married. She was 19 years old and worried about whether it would ever happen. As a woman who didn’t get married until I was 28 years old, I assured her that she should be in no rush. Although I had seasons of loneliness, I loved my single years and used them to the max. I wouldn’t trade those years for the world, and my husband was DEFINITELY worth the wait.
After listening to me make my case, the student thought for a moment and responded with the following: “That’s really great…… But I REALLY hope I don’t have to wait until I’m your age because that would be HORRIBLE!’
I guess not all my advice is gonna be a home run every time, but as I remember that conversation and laugh, I am also reminded of how genuinely glad I am that I waited for Ike. It is such a joy to be married to someone for whom I literally thank God every day! If you’re single, it IS worth the wait. Oh how it is!