Exactly four years ago, J and I went on our first date.
When J first asked me out, I wanted to say: yes yes yes YES YEEEESSSS. But instead I asked him to wait two months. (Crazy lady, I know.)
I had gotten out of a very short but very destructive relationship just a few months earlier, and after that split, I had promised myself a few uninterrupted months of healing. When J asked me out, I knew I wasn’t quite healed enough to be able to give my heart out again. So I asked him to wait, and I’ll never forget what he said:
“I will wait for you, however long it takes.”
And that has been the common thread throughout the four years that we have been together. He waits for me…
When I am running late yet again, scrambling to find socks or swipe on some mascara.
When I am brooding and just need a few minutes to myself.
When I demand 485948 hours to figure out EXACTLY what I am feeling before I can answer that can-of-worms question, “What’s wrong, babe?”
He waits, he’s patient, he keeps his cool, he loves me still.
A few weeks before our first date, I told J my deepest, darkest secret. I remember sitting on a blanket, crying, and telling him that if it changed his mind about wanting to be with me, I understood.
You see, from the very first day I met J, I felt so drawn to him. His calming presence made it so easy to trust him quickly and deeply. But never before had I let one single person in on all of my secrets, and in doing so for the first time, I felt the most intensely vulnerable that I had ever felt. I couldn’t bear the weight of my secrets, and I was sure he couldn’t either.
I expected him to run away, maybe a slow backing up at first and then a full on sprint until I was nothing more than just a small insignificant memory in his rearview reflection. But he didn’t. He stayed and held me. He fought for me, and he kept waiting for me.
We’ve been married for a little over eight months now and I have started so many essays and blog posts on marriage, but they never got finished. I just didn’t quite feel qualified enough yet to write on the topic.
But here I am now today, a terribly flawed and married individual, trying to learn how to love my spouse deeper and more fully. And with each passing day, I am learning that the biggest obstacle to a healthy marriage (or any relationship, for that matter) is not finances or disagreements or shared interests or ____insert-any-other-issue-you-can-name____, but it’s ourselves—our own inherently selfish selves.
I’ve been messing up since day one, and I still mess up almost every single day. Likely I will keep messing up until the day I die. But for the past eight months, the past four years, J has stood by my side and waited for me.
And truly right now, that’s what marriage is about for us, learning to wait on each other and striving to become more selfless in the process.
I’m still not qualified to write about marriage. I’m still new at it. But by God’s grace, each day I am given the chance to grow, learn, and change.