Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Marriage Changes Everything (Or At Least Some Things)

Jason and I have been married almost nine years. As we were both teenagers when we met, we have spent all of our adult lives as a couple. A couple of whats? Well, mostly a couple of goofballs.

After our first date (March 2. 1994), I called my father and told him that I had just been out with the man I was going to marry. It was a gutsy declaration for a 19-year-old, and my father, not unreasonably, scoffed at it. A year and a half later, I joyously became a Christian. Four years after that, Jason and I were married in a church where, to quote my dad, "they talked about Jesus, and all that."

It's been a great journey, and I know it will continue thus. A co-worker of mine once asked if I had prayed for Jason before we met. I answered that, as I was not then a Christian, praying for my future husband never entered my mind. But, God is gracious enough to give gifts that we would not think of requesting, and my husband has been one of His greatest acts of grace in my life.

But, I didn't start this post to get all mushy. I mostly wanted to establish that Jason and I have been influencing each other for about a billion and a half years (that's reckoned in Hollywood Marriage Time -- HMT) and make some observations about that sphere of influence. Ta-da!

It's kind of funny how the less-than-exceptional qualities of your spouse are the easiest to pick up. Basic Newtonian physics tells us that it is easier to bring something down a level, than it is to raise it up. For instance, I have had a very hooliganish effect on Jason's sleeping patterns. He is now just as much of a late night degenerate as I ever was -- maybe worse. I know he'd say that I have negatively affected his spending habits, too. I'd like to think that I have just helped him to embrace Matthew 6:24-27. He is now a lot more laissez-faire about money than he used to be -- although, compared to me, he is a budget hawk. (Thank God! We'd be out on the streets if I handled the finances.) In the "positives" column, he has certainly picked up something of my more relaxed nature and even-temperedness -- again, though, compared to me, he is yet a smouldering pillar of passion.

Under Jason's tutelage, I have become a bonafide baseball fan. He has yet to convince me completely about football (unless the Steelers are playing), and NASCAR is a hopeless case, because it repulses every sensibility I possess. He has entirely reversed my opinion about the necessity of household pets. I now see them more as messy inconveniences than faithful friends. My poor, old cat will not be replaced when he crosses the rainbow bridge. And I find the strange, childless Dog People of Seattle even less comprehensible than I did before. My brief, but energetic, bursts of money-managing are attributable entirely to him. Maybe one day one of them will last long enough to wipe the frown off of his face when he pays our monthly bills. And he has severed my alliance to Laura Scudder's Peanut Butter -- I am a happy Skippy girl, now.

Most edifying, though, are the ways we have grown together -- mostly in our walks of faith. My heart breaks for men and women who have to make those walks without holding the hands of their spouses. Jason was an apathetic Catholic and I pretty much a heathen when we met, but it did not take long after my conversion for Jason to start attending church with me. There was no great leap of belief for him, since he had never not believed on Jesus, but it has been a joy to see his faith strengthened and renewed as mine has blossomed and grown.

Most importantly, we have been each other's best friend since day one. We have leaned on each other, bolstered each other, comforted each other, encouraged each other, and neglected the world, rather than each other. We have had more nights filled with screams of laughter echoing at 3 AM than really is lawful in this year of Our Lord. I know that one of the ways that men and women are to become one in marriage is through children. But surely the other is in the day-to-day adventure of cohabitation. The quibbles and giggles, the compromises and acceptance, the routines and the unexpected jolts, the darkness and light, the good and bad -- it all strips away the non-essentials and makes you whole. That is, you are entirely yourself once you are half of the other person designed for you.

It's a weird, cool, scary, awesome trip.

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