My Husband Rocks – What Makes a Great Marriage
Katy Lin has a great prompt today, asking for all our individual and “universal” secrets to what makes a great marriage. Well… I don’t know if I have any universal ones, but I can tell you what has been the biggest happiness-producing factors in my marriage with my husband of 14 years, Martin.
I think it has two parts — his, and mine.
- His part: Continuous quality improvement.
- My part: Patience with the process.
What I mean by “continuous quality improvement” is this: He never coasts. He’s always doing his best to improve some character quality, some spiritual discipline, his health, how he is a husband, how he fathers… He’s aware of his own shortcomings. He never says, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” Never.
Of course, I’m aware of his shortcomings, too. 😉 What I’ve had to learn is to trust that my husband is on a process of continuing to grow, learn, improve, and change. In our instant society, where we want everything perfect, and we want it perfect NOW, it’s easy to grow impatient and discontented over the state of our spouse, and despair that he’ll ever change. I know I did. I’m so thankful, though, that we stuck it out through the years that were more tilling and tending than reaping. Know what I mean? Because, now, we’re able to look back from where we’ve come, and at least taste the fruit of perseverance.
Here’s an example:
We have five kids. When our first was born, nearly 12 years ago, I thought, “Is Martin ever going to help??” I could count on one hand how many diapers he changed in the first year. He virtually never felt comfortable staying alone with his own son. As a very willing stay-at-home mom, I was more than glad to shoulder most of the responsibility of parenting our newborn. However, I was fairly distressed over his unwillingness to “babysit,” and felt somewhat trapped at home, especially since we only had one car at that point, and the only time I could go anywhere by myself is if Martin was willing to stay with Ethan. Eventually, he was OK with it if Ethan was asleep, so I perfected hour-and-a-half errand-running, using that window of opportunity.
Now, contrast that with earlier this week, Tuesday, when I went to kinship by myself. Martin met me at baseball practice, took charge of all of five of our kids (ages 4 months to 11 years), took ’em home when practice was over, fed ’em all dinner, and put ’em all in bed. When I came home, I inquired about how things went. Well, he did have some difficulty, but he said something along the lines of, “I don’t want to relive it; part of the problem is my own attitude, and I’m learning to deal with it.” !!!!
I think, “What if I would have become too impatient with Martin’s lack of a) wanting to make my load lighter; and b) confidence as a parent?” What if I had listened to “Dear Abby” kind of advice that asks, “Are you better off with him or without him?” Because there were certainly weak moments when I thought that it would be easier as a single parent — I would only have to take care of myself and my son, instead of my husband, myself and my son. If I had listened to worldly advice, and given in to my despair and impatience, would I ever have reached this place joy in seeing his growth? Now, I’m ashamed to admit that there were times when I thought, “The only reason I’m sticking around is because I want to be a full-time mom, and his income allows that to happen.”
Contrast that with the immense joy I now have in my husband, in our marriage, in seeing him be a father, in the… overall effectiveness and health of our whole family.
I don’t even want to think about what might have been, really. I’m happy to rejoice in what our hard work over the years has produced. I’m happy that I have learned that, in a marriage (in my marriage, anyways), I can’t reap the fruit of patience — which is happiness and peace — unless I actually exercise that patience.
So, now, it’s not like I’m 100% thrilled with everything about my husband and our marriage. But, I am confident in my husband’s willingness to be accountable before the Father with who he is, and what he does, and that he’s on a path of continuous quality improvement. And, I do know that if I choose to be patient with that process, and choose to be Martin’s friend and his lover, and NOT his Holy Spirit, I will reap some tasty, juicy, happy fruit. 😀