A Surprising Marriage

Powell weddingEven good marriages are full of surprises.  Here are a few of mine. I’d love to hear yours. 

 

I knew all about marriage on my wedding day in June 1987.  I had read lots of books and had met with the pre-marital counselor at least 5 or 6 times.

I knew all about my husband. We started as good friends and dated for 5 years.  I loved his family, and he loved mine.  We both loved God, Auburn football, and Ronald Reagan.

We were set.

So why was I throwing up almost the entire night before our wedding?

Did my body know something that my brain could not grasp?

Lest you fear that some sad tale follows, worry not. I’ve not dealt with terrible surprises.  But in my stable, predictable life, I thought I knew what to expect.  I was wrong.  Here are just a few of my surprises.

Male Friendships:  I did not understand male friendships at all.  One of our first disagreements dealt with the long-distance phone bills, the old pay-by-the-minute kind.  I did not appreciate how an hour of discussing football recruiting over the phone long-distance could be a meaningful conversation between two well-adjusted men.  Even when the last minute goes something like this:   “Oh you’re getting married!  Congratulations.  That’s great.  Good-bye.”

Vulnerability:  I did not know then how completely vulnerable this strong man would be, how easily I could wound him in a way no one else could. Apparently a careless comment by a friend or even girlfriend did not pack the punch of the same comment by a wife.  I still don’t quite get it.

Leaving and Cleaving: I did not grasp how complicated the “leaving and cleaving” aspect of a marriage could be.  Even as individuals, we are largely defined by our significant relationships.  I was a daughter.  I became a wife. But I was still a daughter.  And that was so much more challenging than I ever considered it would be.

Pregnancy and Nursing:  I could not imagine how the hormonal turmoil of pregnancies and nursing babies would turn me into such a different person for a season.  In this situation, both parents need to grow-up and soldier on, accepting that the relationship is in a temporarily altered state.   All the date nights in the world won’t erase the fact that a pregnant or nursing mom has a body focused on the biological survival of another human being.  Her body is just not her own for a time, but babies are worth it.

Growing Together:  I thought about how our marriage would be an asset to each of us as we went about our lives.  But I did not think so much about the ways self-actualization might need to be sublimated for the greater good of the marriage.  My husband and I have consciously chosen to grow together, which means giving up some individual goals and interests – and replacing them with our goals and interests.

Sex:  It is almost impossible to overestimate how important sex is to a man and to a marriage.  Not just fun . . . important.  Given that my sons follow my blog, and I don’t want to mortify them, I’ll say little more.  Simply put, marriage is fed and the union sustained by the communion of two souls that takes place within the sexual relationship.  When it is good, a lot of other things just don’t really matter so much after all.

Change:  Five and ten-year plans are made to be broken.  I married a smart Christian man who was a rather mild-mannered, somewhat reserved, future engineering professor.  I am now married to smart Christian man who is an extremely extroverted entrepreneur and hard-driving corporate CEO.  But he still loves God, Auburn football, Ronald Reagan, and me, so the important things haven’t changed.

The calendar tells us we are older now, and the weddings we attend are those of our friends’ children or our children’s friends.  They begin the trek down the aisle, so full of love and hope  – and so clueless – just as we were.

And isn’t that simply wonderful?

For the surprises of marriage include both unanticipated challenges and unforeseen joys.

I thought I loved the 24 – year old man I married.  And I did.

But I had no idea how deeply I could love a man,

A man I have grown up with, seeing the changes the years of our life together write on his body, mind, and soul, a rich patina of age.

A man who, as a young father, calmly holds a vomiting toddler closely, not wanting to add to his distress with quick movements.

A man who, as an older father, engages with each of the young men who are our sons, learning about and pouring himself into their very diverse pursuits.  Their passions become his passion.

A man whose voice quavers as he tells the story of his misstep, which he fears has injured the little puppy he cradles in his arms. And I know it’s not just because he loves the puppy, but also because he loves me.

A man who deals with all sorts of challenges and stresses at work yet is able to stand strong, trust God, sleep peacefully, and move forward in faith, steady and solid.

And, finally, a man who looks into my eyes… and tells me that in them he sees Home.

And I understand what he means, for I feel the same way when I look at him.

And in understanding that, after 25 years, perhaps I am at least beginning to know a little something about marriage.   And I look forward to knowing more.

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36 thoughts on “A Surprising Marriage

    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Thanks Michael! I started to ask your wife if I could use in this essay that precious picture she posted on Facebook of the older couple kissing in the picture frame out west. Perfect illustration for this. But then I was ready to post and just went with what I had. Do you think she would mind? I would credit and link as desired. Loved the starting school photos of the girls!

      Reply
      1. Michael

        She says you are welcome to it. She actually thought about that picture when she read your post. I admire her photography. Sometimes I wish I could convince her to get back into it, but I think she hated running a business.

    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Thank you so much! Journey a great word- such a fitting analogy. I was just recently reading your post that included the great picture and discussion of football. So many lessons for our sons there. Big part of my life now with 2 sons on the varsity together. I will probably write on it sometime myself. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  1. investigator25

    It takes a life time to get to know your husband/wife, and it takes a willing partner who really wants the marriage to work to last 25 years; then the goal will be 50 years. God Bless your family and I am interested in how the next 25 goes.

    Reply
  2. mamajoyx9

    Wow. Sounds like we’ve had some of the same struggles – you’ve learned from them, I’m still fighting. Well, y’alls marriage has 14 years on mine. Me thinks if I want to get to the 25 year mark I better quit fighting and start learning. Sigh. Thanks for lifting my chin. 🙂

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel

      Oh, I am sure I am still fighting many things! But often it is is better to accept things are they are, learn, and just move on.
      Then we have energy to notice a lot else that is very good!

      Reply
  3. Lisa (aka Mama B)

    I love this post. Touched my heart. Actually read the part about male friendships and sex (your boys reading your blog) to my husband. We had a good laugh. Thanks for that! Happy to have you following my blog!

    Reply
  4. disciplinedvault

    Teamwork – I cannot believe how well my husband and I work together.  Raising children and working full-time makes life busy, but with teamwork, we still have time for each other and time alone. 

    And I agree, I thought I loved my husband the day we got married.  But after having children together and standing next to each other through the good and bad – I love him more than the day I said I DO.  We will hit 8 year wedding anniversary and it seems like yesterday, I said I do forever.  Because as life changes, we grow and change together….like a team!

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      What a great surprise that is. And I like the word “teamwork.” It carries with it a more vigorous “whatever it takes to get the job done” sort of flavor, more so than “partnership.”

      Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Thank you. He is a good man. It was a more challenging writing about him than the kids. Almost too close- hard to step back for a clear perspective. But it was a good exercise.

      Reply
  5. rachaelhanel

    This is an insightful post. I was married fairly young (at 19) and soon we will be celebrating our 18th anniversary. I would love to tell everyone that it’s not easy! I think that’s what most newly married couples don’t understand, and they give up too soon. I’ve made “sacrifices” on other things so my marriage will work. You don’t get to be selfish anymore when you’re married!

    Reply
  6. In-House Counsel Post author

    Very good advice! I think we sometimes expect things from marriage that we don’t from other relationships. We understand that being a good daughter or a good mother requires work and sacrifice. Why would marriage be any different? I recently saw a post on Tumblr with a picture of an old married couple. The caption read “When we were married 62 years ago, if something was broken we fixed it. We didn’t just throw it out.” Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Reply
  7. Do Not Disturb

    Such a great post. Thanks for sharing. I have yet to blog about the leaving and cleaving you talked about but I can totally relate to that and so many other points you mentioned. Thanks for visiting our site.

    Megan

    Reply
  8. Laura

    With this one you deeply encourage me. As we readjust to living together in normalcy, there ate growing pains. But you remind me that their is glory in it all! Thanks, friend.

    Reply
  9. angchronicles

    Molly, I want to cry. Divorced two years after a 23 year marriage; and as I read your essay I see all that went wrong. I want to rejoice. God has blessed me with a friend, for the moment, who asked me to marry him when we were in the seventh grade. We are 3,000 miles apart, and when he talks of marriage, never been married before, these are the things he talks of and why he has never married before: sex, growing together, vulnerabilities, change. As a divorcee, I can see how much stronger and wiser a wife I will become the second time around with a husband who most importantly wants to grow together. Thank you.

    Reply
  10. kindparentsnetwork

    Absolutely beautiful. We have only been married 5 years but I truly believe and agree that how close you hold a vomiting toddler is a strong, true measure of a man. I happen to be lucky enough to have married a wonderful, strong and true man. Kudos to you for choosing to grow in your marriage instead of choosing yourself, marriage second. I hope in 20 years I am as wise and lucky as you.

    Reply

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