"You ruined my life!" declared one spouse to another standing by the kitchen sink finishing up a pile of dirty dishes. All the while there was love between the two and smiles on their faces with this single truth revealed.
Yes, this scenario was a real day in the life of Chase and Kristin at about 2 months into our marriage. Although we spoke these words in a manner that was lighthearted, the message behind the words rang true for us both. We had received a plethora of marriage advice before our wedding day all given with well meant intentions to help spur Chase and I in the right direction as a young married couple. Out of all the warnings, tips, and truths to live by, one piece of advice resonates in my mind.
Advice: When you become married, you realize how selfish you are. When you become a parent, you realize how really selfish you are.
This became blatantly clear to us in the initial weeks of our new life together. Of course nobody wants to be the first to admit their selfishness. Most of the time, the challenge of admitting it to yourself often seems more than enough. It really isn't enough though is it? There is something about verbally admitting to your spouse the selfishness of your thinking or behaving that breaks down the walls between you and creates opportunity for healing, forgiveness, and support. Yes, for anyone wondering, we have already crossed that bridge of yelling, "you are SO selfish!" to one another in a fit of disapproval. In not one instance has that actually helped the situation, nor did it help the other reach the point of seeking forgiveness because the situation was not handled in love.
Paul writes a letter to the believers in Philippi compelling them to live a selfless life which I find can apply to our everyday relationships, especially one's relationship to their spouse.
That day at the kitchen sink, we were chatting about how marriage truly challenges the selfish parts of one who perhaps had no prior knowledge of such levels of selfishness existing! Praise God for marriage and the opportunity it gives us to surface this hidden selfishness, repent of it (sometimes over and over again), and to learn how to love one another through it. We came to the conclusion that we had ruined each others life the day we said "I do". My life prior to marriage had its own dreams, desires, routines, habits, preconceived notions of how to live life the right ways and wrong ways. Chase had his own as well. Marriage was a cherished dream for both of us. Now we both have learned that some of our individual dreams or desires or tendencies must now be sacrificed in fulfillment of our marriage dream. The beauty is in doing so, we can create new dreams and plans together. It is true. We have ruined our individual lives as we are no longer living two separate lives, but one unified life. We have the opportunity to approach the Father in humility and say, "Lord, I have absolutely no idea what we're doing here, what steps You would have us take next, or what the right words are to share, but we trust You to carry us through." There is so much more that could be said about this life lesson, but for now this is where we are at, and we are excited to share it with you.
In the spirit of the approaching Thanksgiving season - I am thankful for the many life lessons God is teaching us through His grace in our marriage. Despite the hard truths I know we will continue to face, I am hopeful that these trials will produce endurance within our marriage.