I have a wedding shower to attend today. One of my prayer partners is getting married in a few weeks and she's asked a handful of her own and her fiance's closest friends to share what we consider to be the biggest challenge and the biggest joy in marriage.
Because I was the one sending out the invitations, I knew about this request two or three months ago. I filed the thought away in the back of my head and periodically pulled it out to say, "Biggest joy... Biggest challenge... Hmmm..." before promptly filing it back in the drawer marked Things to Deal with Another Day.
Anotherday has finally shown up. Adam suggested we write separate answers so that our friends can see how we each may interpret our relationship differently. Here's what I wrote for them:
My biggest challenge in marriage?
I'm basically a selfish person. I want what I want when I want it. That's what I'd looked forward to most in becoming an adult; I could do whatever I wanted. I just didn't count on having to consider someone else's feelings in addition to my own, much less before my own. Somewhere deep inside, in that place we're rarely aware of but we think our deepest thoughts, I always sort of figured that one day when I got married, my husband would want whatever I wanted, simply because he wanted to please me. The concept that maybe I should want to please him...never really entered the picture. But then Adam entered the picture. And my nice little world that revolved around me came crashing down at my feet. I'm still trying to recover. In fact, I'm still trying to keep things spinning around me the way I'd always thought they should. Only, at such an unconscious level, I hardly realize what I'm doing most of the time. Before I know it I'm disrespectful and petulant and nagging. All because I want to make sure I'm taken care of before I focus my attention on Adam's welfare. I have trouble trusting that God (and Adam) will care for my needs, so I hoard my own energy and attention rather than giving freely to him (and Him).
As for my greatest joy?
I live with a man whose goal it is to love me as Christ loves me, perfectly amidst my imperfection. I have a real live example of someone knowing me very well--inside and out, really--yet choosing still to love me. Which is not to suggest that I never annoy Adam or that he is never angry at me, but even in his anger, he tells me and shows me love. At my most selfish, crabbiest me, he has yet to be scared off. Even in the middle of still another round of Great Fight #6, he is willing to say he's more content in his life married to me (difficult though it may be) than he was as a single man. I don't have to make nice; I don't have to measure up; I don't have to play by the rules for him to love me. I just have to be.