In less than a week Jon and I will have been married for one year. That's not very long. And it flew by! But we've amassed more information, more insight, more experience in that short time than in any and all times before. I've been a wife for twelve months. While few may be willing to bow to my authority as an all-wise wife, I'd much rather take this opportunity to share my experience rather than my intellect anyway. I, too, have much to learn, grasshopper. So what makes up the first year of our marriage?
In my head I can boil that down into:
-the number of dinners we've eaten together
-the number of breakfasts we've had in bed
-the countless tons of laundry
-the To Do lists we wrote but never quite finished
-the holidays we divided between in-laws
-the gifts we had to sneak and save to purchase as surprises
-the handful of big fights
-the gazillions of happy make-ups
-the number of movies we had to compromise on before we'd see them
-the hours spent on the phone with one another when we were separated by work or school
-the thousands of words I put down in essays and made Jon read before I turned them in
-the number of nightmares I awoke from and was comforted by Jon's presence beside me
-the teensy considerate things I'd think of to do for him
-the many flowers he brought me just because I was so pretty or sweet
-the number of misgivings
-the number of forgivings
-the inumerable jokes we've told
-the number of hours we've spent laughing together over those jokes or at nothing in particular
-the times I've been sick and he's cared for me
-the very few times he's been sick and I've been a good nurse
-the number of pizzas we've ordered because I can't cook
-the number of pizzas we haven't ordered because Jon wants me to eat healthier
-the patience and respect we've learned simply by sharing the space in our home
-the presence of mind I've learned from him
-the breadth of our smiles when we're together
-the amount of encouragement we've extended to each other
-the low blows we've dealt and the buttons we've learned just how to push
-the number of realities we've been hit with
-the different ways we learned from mistakes and leaned on each other to stand up and live again
-the joys we shared at all hours of the day or night
-the secrets we have only with one another
-the dreams we've built and will build and are building
-the way we've maintained an outright belief in adventure and ultimately happy endings
In my short lifetime I've seen good men stumble and hurt the people around them. I've seen good women turn bitter and drive those good men away. I've seen marriages tumble and break on the concrete of our modern society. But I don't believe for one second that failure awaits my Jonathan and me. Certainly there's a chance for failure, but the adventure of life would be much less fun if there was no risk at all. I want our success to be a product of our hard work, our prayers, our guts and blood and sweat. There is no shame in making an effort.
For a book club at church I've been reading a work by a woman with whom I've failed to feel much of a connection. At every turn I've questioned her bias, her authority. Then today, during the exact chapter with which I was prepared to take the most issue, she spoke to me. Whether you believe in God or not (and I definitely do), marriages rise or fall because of the actions of the people who make them up. My job as a wife, as outlined in the bible, is a submissive one. My job as a woman, as outlined by the world, is an independent one. Which do I choose? Do I have to choose?
I believe I am here to help my husband. I can do that by honoring his decisions, making his life easier, catering to his needs. And I'm fortunate in that God blessed me with a man who understands that true love is all about service. Still, our relationship isn't perfectly harmonious. It may never be. But we're off on the right foot. What's more, I read something today in my book that made so much sense I'm ready to memorize it in order to put it into action in my own life:
God said that man needs a helper. The true woman celebrates this calling and becomes affirming rather than adversarial, compassionate rather than controlling, a partner rather than a protagonist. She becomes substantively rather than superficially submissive.
I have always believed I was the protagonist of my own story, the heroine, the leading lady. That's me. But now I'm "us". And the most amazing thing is that I'm more than okay with that. Jon is a wonderful man. He deserves my attention, my respect, a full 50% of my story. By relinquishing that control, affirming Jon's duty as a loving, leading husband, I may be able to conquer the role of wife.
Finally, I've realized that submission must be conquered. Especially today, submission is one of the hardest jobs to do for women. I believe it might well be more difficult than ascending to the top of a high-paid power career field, or juggling several jobs while attempting to raise children. Jon wants me to succeed as me alone, but he loves that I won't even think about establishing myself without him. It's entirely okay to revolve life around my husband. He, after all, wants to do the same for me.