I have a lot of grey hairs… Too many for my age. They started coming the year I got married. It’s quite the joke between Reuben and I.
I met Reuben in my last year of college in 1996. Our bands were both playing a gig for a youth group. I remember watching him play his guitar thinking “Wow, what a guy!”, and apparently he felt the same (well, not “what a guy”) After much nudging from his friends, because apparently I’m very intimidating, he finally asked me on a date. We headed across the border to Bellingham to eat at Red Robins. I remember him saying how hungry he was but barely touched his food! As I stuffed my face, I took a moment to look up to see his plate still full. Considering I weighed more than he did at the time, I sure felt like a pig. But despite, he asked me on another date and we began our courtship.
One month after we starting dating I headed off on a two month trip to Europe with two friends. I was pathetic on that trip. I was head over heels in love and missed Reuben soooo much! All I could talk about the first week was how I wanted to go home. Reuben and I would fax each other as much as we could. (BEFORE the days of email? wow! Did that ever exist?)
Two years later we married on June 26. It was a beautiful day that we will always remember. And after a wonderful honeymoon in Whistler and Barbados we came back to our condo in Surrey, BC to start our happily ever after.
What a mess….
I’m surprised we survived our first year of marriage. Wow, was HE ever hard to live with! I was fine of course, but wow, was HE ever picky! I found out that Reuben was not the easy, go-lucky guy I thought he was. He was a perfectionist in disguise! I had MARRIED MY MOTHER! (insert scary music here) Me and perfectionists don’t get along very well because I “feel” my way through everything. I drive anyone who does things “exact” nuts. One day he critiqued my cooking. That did it. I’ve barely cooked since…. “It’s all yours then” I said.
Reuben found out how emotional I am. If there’s one thing he couldn’t figure out was me and my emotions. Reuben never really thought about how he was “feeling” so when I would want to talk things through and he just looked at me blank, I was livid! Reuben’s also a realist (a.k.a. pessimist) and I’m a visionary with the glass ½ full. I could never figure out what Reuben’s problem was….. until I’d find myself in a heap of trouble and realize he was right again (dang it).
It seemed for the first seven years (and I’m not exaggerating) we both wondered what on earth we got ourselves into. Two very stubborn people who were intense in our own ways living under one roof. I wondered if I had married the wrong person…and he did too.
When I would see married couples who seemed like they got a long so well, it would make me sad. And those lovey-dovey couples? I’d just have to leave – they made me want to vomit.
I wondered if I’d ever be happy.
I don’t know what happened but for the last few years, it’s been pretty good. We actually enjoy each other’s company. Yes, the same things still drive me NUTS (and him too) but we are able to see past it. I can’t explain it. It’s almost like we just had to hang in there. Now that we’ve been married for 14 years, I wouldn’t want to start over with anyone else…so I’m afraid Reuben is stuck with me.
There’s something I heard many years ago that has stuck with me: “Marriage is like a mirror put right in front of you to show you what you’re REALLY like”. Wow, is that ever true. I was such a nice, sweet, gentle girl till I got married!…. All my selfishness came rushing to the surface and showed its ugly face. At first I thought it was all Reuben’s fault – bringing out the worst in me, but I know better now. It was there all along. God has used Reuben to show me my weakness.
There’s nothing like marriage for God to use to show us the things hidden deep inside us that He wants to purge. He does this because He loves us too much to keep us the same. He made woman to be a help-mate for man. Little did man know that would not just be a cheerleader for him, but one who has no problem telling him what he needs to deal with!
Marriage is not designed to make us happy. Whoa! That’s a horrible thing to say isn’t it? But if marriage is made to make me happy, then when Reuben doesn’t make ME happy…all hell breaks loose. I’ve discovered that was the exact attitude that was hurting my marriage and is currently destroying over 50% of our society’s marriages. Marriage is not for the other person to fulfill our happiness. How could they possibly live up to that kind of standard? Marriage is to fulfill God’s heart for us to have a partner through life, to discover ourselves, to live life together, and to learn what it really means to love despite…. (and I’m sure there’s many other reasons as well!) Happiness, ironically follows when we let go of “what’s in it for me”.
Marriage shows us God’s heart for relationship and vulnerability; what a beautiful thing it is when someone sees us with our masks stripped away and they can still love us. It’s not infatuation at that point is it? It’s deeper. Its raw. It’s real.
The challenge is to hang in there.
I love this section of the “Velveteen Rabbit”. I believe it reflects God’s plan of what He desires to accomplish by giving us an earth-mate:
to become….. real.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
I thank God for giving me Reuben…. and the chance to become “real”. I love you sweety.