This year will be my fifteenth wedding anniversary. Yep. That’s right. Fifteen years. It is hard for me to fathom the fact that I’ve been in a relationship or even a friendship with someone for this long. Unlike most couples, I was the one who had an issue with commitment when we got engaged. It’s not that I didn’t love my husband, but the sheer enormity of a lifetime commitment simply blew my mind. My husband, Mr. J, had no such concerns. Even though we’ve only known each other for a short time, as an intuitive visionary, he can already see us together for the long haul. Our differences were quite obvious even back then.
It’s true what they say – the more similarities you have as a couple, the easier things will be. Whether it’s cultural/family background, or personality and habits, there are plenty of areas for a couple to adapt to. We are two unique individuals with all of our strengths, weaknesses as well as gifts and quirks working together. Me and my husband have similar family and cultural backgrounds. We are also in synch with our spiritual outlook and life vision. Even so, it’s still tough to work together through life’s ups and downs on days. The great news is that marriage, like most everything else, does get better with practice. I feel like we work together much better now than fifteen years ago. We’ve gotten so much better at understanding and complementing one another.
Both me and J grew up in families that had a difficult time with communication. When we started dating, we knew that might be a major hurdle for us. We agreed that we would not break off communication with each other no matter how difficult things get. It’s an easy decision to make when things are going well. When we’re in the midst of a heated argument with hurt feelings, it’s not so easy to keep that promise. For me, learning to communicate in the midst of frustration is difficult. My emotions were often so overwhelming that I just wanted to shut down. It took a lot of effort to process through the torrents of emotions to understand what triggered such an intense response in me.
The honest truth is that we’re not always able to resolve our differences. On some days, we had to agree to disagree and simply move on. And after fifteen years, I realized that learning to embrace our differences is also a major part of this thing called marriage. Being different or even polar opposites doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re opposed or contradictory to each other. More often than not, we simply have two different perspectives. It took me a long time to learn that having a different view does not equate to disapproval or rejection. J finds our differences intriguing. I, on the other hand, find our differences alarming. My challenge is to trust and be vulnerable to someone who is different from me in so many ways. Incidentally, isn’t that similar to what we experience in our relationship with God?
One of the paradoxical ideas in theology is the immanence and transcendence of God. Immanence refers to the idea that God manifests in the created world. Even more so, God knows and interacts with us in our innermost being. Yet, at the same time, He is the “wholly other.” God transcends beyond our created realm. He is different from us in every way. It’s easy for me to connect to a God who knows me intimately, but how do I relate to God’s complete “otherness”?
What I’ve come to appreciate about my husband is his love and commitment towards me. After all these years, I can still see that his commitment and love towards me is constant. I see how my words and actions can still affect him deeply… for better and for worse. I see that I matter to him. When situations arise where our differences seem to be an impassable chasm between us, I remember that he loves me. It is his love and kindness that challenge me to continue to walk towards him in spite of my fears and need for control.
Isn’t it funny how similar that is to our relationship with God? My relationship with J has taught me to connect and trust someone different from me. Similarly, experiencing God’s loving kindness enabled me to continue to trust Him even when I don’t understand His plan. In many ways, I began to see how my marriage mirrored my journey with God.
Looking back, I realized that marriage isn’t about having a list of do’s and don’ts. There isn’t a checklist for a happy marriage. For me and J, our marriage is a classroom. It’s a place where we are learning to partner with someone completely foreign to us in so many ways. It’s learning about love and how to love. It’s experiencing being connected to another person in the deepest way possible… and how it can go deeper still. It’s learning about others and ourselves… the best and worst sides of us. And it is learning why God uses a marriage to illustrate our relationship with Jesus.
I’m looking forward to what the next 15 years will bring us in this grand adventure.
Happy anniversary, J.