I love real love stories – stories about what love is really like. You will probably see me cry if you watch the movie The Young Victoria with me. This is not because she is a princess who has finally found her prince (cue sappy music here) – it’s because Victoria figures out where her real strength lies: in her ability to recognize and tap into the power of her marriage as both spouse & queen. In university you do not have to look far to see that the world likes to present marriage as a contract in which one person benefits more and the other less. Just today, in my second-year medieval literature class, we viewed paintings of the Biblical couple Mary and Joseph in which Joseph was generally portrayed as distant from the holy infant, following along in a grand scheme because he had no other choice, a joke in his community, his daily work useless in comparison to what his wife was doing. Of course, this portrayal does not really reflect the truth. I would like to propose that in marriage happy longevity can only be found when a couple makes use of the strength that exists in the marriage bond. As I am writing this, my husband is likely trying to be a carpenter on a jobsite while simultaneously a secretary and quote-builder in an office – all while trying to figure out how he is going to find the time to pick up the kids from school and supervise swimming lessons for 45 minutes before dropping them off at home this afternoon. Why is he doing all of this – it doesn’t sound fun at all.
The answer is we have created a life for ourselves in which not only do we make decisions together but for each other. This means that he generally doesn’t go out and buy a brand new truck without having a discussion with me first – but, more importantly, it means that I can trust him to make important decisions without my presence because I know that he does it on behalf of us. If he is ever placed in a position where he has to make a decision about a large purchase without the ability to discuss it with me first – I am confident that he would do so knowing how I would feel about it and valuing that information. I’m totally great with that – it’s wonderful – it means I can officially be in two places simultaneously, because God has literally made us one (Genesis 2:22-24). It makes it possible for me to trust him with my children while I am so far away. And not only that, but it allows me to leave him in Fort St John while I am in Vancouver - guilt free. Ack – isn’t that wrong? – shouldn’t I feel guilty about basically taking a 4 month vacation from my life while my husband slaves away as single parent at home and I relax in Vancouver, taking invigorating runs along the sea each morning and getting decadent amounts of sleep each night? Let me answer that with this – would it really be right for me to do this if I felt guilty about it? No. While I do miss my family, sometimes painfully, I rest assured in the fact that this is the correct decision because my husband has affirmed it for me by never once suggesting that it was a bad plan or even flinching slightly at the suggestion of it. In fact he has always expressed excitement at the thought of me doing this and encouraged me in it. Which leads me to the next reason why this crazy situation works:
I married a man of faith. When my non-christian friends ask me, pleadingly, what the secret to our happy counter-cultural marriage (I say that because I got married at 18 and defied worldly expectations by never regretting it) is, I have to answer: we base our marriage on the truths that God outlines plainly for us. You can’t love anyone continuously and long-term without using God’s love as model and guide. Period.
The final secret is this: he’s just really great. He is patient and kind with me, our children, our family and his employees. I have never heard him yell (in anger) – although he told me that he once lost his temper at someone in a parking lot and shouted at them as they ran off. As a result, when he does hand out discipline to our children, they react quickly and compliantly. The “righteous” behavior described in Proverbs exists in his life – and just as the verse describes, his children are clearly blessed by it (Proverbs 20:7). He looks after me and makes sure that, after 15 years together, I know that he not only still loves me, but that he likes me as well – that he is (pardon the cheesy term) in love with me still. He never argues or bickers unnecessarily, curses or lies (literally, I cannot think of one time that I know he lied to me – although his mom does tell of the time he lied to her at age 5 about brushing his teeth). He is also fun and fun-loving and has a great sense of humor. He is a phenomenal father and uncle who is well-loved by the children in our family and he looks after his mother while his father travels for business (which, unfortunately, is often). And, lets face it - he’s hot. And not only is he hot, but he takes care to make sure that he stays that way by getting up early to work out. On top of all of these wonderful qualities that he has – he devotes a lot of time and energy to ministry. He prioritizes his involvement in church ministry to the point where he sometimes has weeks where he is at the church daily – and he does it with balance. I can never say that I feel neglected as a result of these commitments.
Yes, he’s pretty great.
I love you honey and I thank God for you every day,