When Brittany and I first met I thought she was perfect. She was the cutest, most sincere, wonderful person in the entire world and I was instantly smitten. Then she told me she didn’t want to date me and I realized she had one flaw.
Before Brittany, my longest relationship lasted 5 months. For those of you keeping score at home, that's the time when the sparks start to fade and you really get to know a person. The first 4-5 months are just spontaneous dates and googly eyes. In my experience, that was usually the time when I finally listened to the voice that told me, “this isn’t right.”
Realistically, I had my reservations about each of my girlfriends (not because they were bad people--I dated some WONDERFUL humans), but because something never felt right. Looking back, I see that the insecure feeling stemmed from the fact that I was already in love with Brittany and I was doing a terrible job being patient and waiting for her to come around.
That said, Brittany and I did date eventually and then we got married and we are currently living happily ever after. Except life isn’t a Shakespearian comedy so life doesn’t end after the wedding is over.
I think one of the hardest aspects of being with someone is constantly fighting the urge to try and fix them. Now, I need to do some explaining because I think there are important distinctions to be made here.
Helping vs. Fixing
Helping your spouse develop healthy habits is not trying to fix them. Brittany is helping me to do things like eat healthier, exercise, and put the toilet seat down. These are all great things and things I really do need to learn. But she’s not trying to change the person that I am—just trying to keep me around longer. That said, I still fight her like the plague on the toilet seat.
Sacrifice is Essential
I recently read Don Miller say:
“Once you accept that people aren’t perfect, you can start to love them for who they are.”
Brittany and I are different in a few big ways. I am a hyper active, over working, charisma machine. Laying on the couch is not usually how I choose to spend my nights and Brittany is quite the opposite. She gets recharged from down time and I get recharged from going out (and drinking lots of coffee).
"Compromise" doesn't even seem like the right word to me because compromise implies that you're still keeping score in some ways. Sure, we try and make things even between going out and staying home, but I think it's more important to think about it in terms of "sacrifice." In good relationships (friendships are how I learned), you can't keep score. Just give it all.
Give Up Fixing
It’s been a big step for me to give up trying to make her recharge the way I do—to think the way I do. This is especially evident when we disagree. One time we were disagreeing about something and I blurted out in frustration,
“I hate the way you handle stress!” It was before we got married.
She was silent for a minute—probably waiting for me to start being rational again.
Then she said, “well that’s not going to change.”
I was pissed for a few minutes because I knew she was right and I hate when she’s right and I’m wrong because let’s be honest—who enjoys being wrong? I’m only 4 months in and I already get why God setup marriage the way He did. Marriage takes constant sacrifice and a willingness to give up the high ground and admit defeat every freaking day.
Two years ago at a Christmas party, my newlywed friend Lauren showed up and we talked about marriage a little bit. I was engaged at the time. She looked at me dead in the eye, got real serious and said,
“Jordan, it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Marriage is so hard. Like really really hard. It's great, but the hardest thing you're ever going to do in your whole life. Not kidding, it's so hard.”
No amount of me nodding kept her from continuing. She texted me the next day and told me she hoped that she hadn’t scared me out of it and I told her she hadn’t (but dang did she make me nervous).
I think marriage is like my relationship with Jesus in that the more I give up, the more I get. The more I let go of my “rightness” the more I understand the point of serving. And Brittany can’t be fixed the same way I can’t be fixed. We are who we are--broken. And as I accept her the way she is I see just how wonderful that person is.
Or as my friend Caleb eloquently put it, “You suck, and she sucks. And that’s marriage”
I love that definition.