Although Brandon and I have been together for almost 6 years now (wow, I feel old), today’s kind of a big deal. Today marks 6 months of marriage, or what Brandon jokingly referred to earlier as his “lifetime prison sentence.” We’re not about those monthiversaries but there is something to be said for surviving half a year of this crazy new adventure.
What a 6 months it’s been! We got married, moved in together (and moved to a new city), went to another wedding, traveled a lot, managed all of the holidays as a married couple, and balanced work and school. I can tell you that I have learned A LOT: about myself, about Brandon, and about us together.
I’ve learned that Brandon doesn’t like egg yolks and that he’s very particular about the dishes getting done. I’ve learned that I don’t do well when my schedule gets changed (let’s be real, I kind of knew this) and that I’m HORRIBLE to sleep with because I tend to hog the bed, steal the blankets, and elbow Brandon in the face. Whoops.
But as much as I’ve learned since I’ve gotten married, I think the most valuable thing I learned about being married happened long before the wedding. One of my best friends had been married for a few years when we got engaged. During one of our conversations about marriage, she said, “Marriage will make you realize how selfish you really are.”
She went on to explain that marriage is huge for our personal growth because it helps point out areas of our lives where we’re really selfish, and helps us learn to be more selfless. For some reason, this really stuck with me, and after 6 months of marriage, I’m surprised at how much that simple statement has served me as some of the best advice I’ve received.
There have been lots of times in the last half-year where I’ve struggled with frustration over something (usually something pretty petty if we’re being honest). Every time I’ve felt that way, I’ve been reminded of the simple words of my friend. Marriage will make you realize how selfish you really are.
As it turns out, 99% of the time my negative feelings are coming from my inability or unwillingness to put our needs before my own wants, and remembering that marriage is meant to make us more selfless helps me put everything in perspective. I’m feeling this way not because I’ve been gravely wronged, but because I’m being changed. God uses marriage to sharpen us, to make us more selfless and understanding, and while that’s not always pleasant at the time, it’s awesome.
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, by C.S. Lewis:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
Putting my daily frustrations or issues in the frame of selfishness vs. selflessness has helped me see marriage in a really powerful way. What I might have thought was an issue with Brandon’s actions or an issue between us, I view instead as an opportunity to learn the art of selflessness. I’m a slow learner, by the way. Still not great at it, but improving.
While I have nothing figured out about marriage or life yet, I can say that marriage is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my short life. It’s been hard, it’s been fun, and I’ve only elbowed Brandon in the head while we were sleeping twice (and he hasn’t threatened to sleep in the guest room yet). So far, so good.
If you’re married, what was the best marriage advice you received?