I’m in Knoxville right now on a “business trip” (the kind that doesn’t require a briefcase and pant suit), and one of my co-workers/friends who is also on the trip was asking me about marriage on the drive up. (Aren’t you proud of me for getting the direction correct, Pete?) I really enjoy talking about marriage because I think so often we get a negative sense of it, and I actually love being married. Talking about it also makes me realize just how many great things it has to offer. In fact, the same friend asked me and a couple of other married ladies last week what exactly we like about it. I listed a few things, but I’ve been mentally adding to my list ever since. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. I like having someone to share life with. Someone to join me at parties or on road trips, someone to watch movies with, walk with, to come home to or greet at the door. Someone who won’t judge me for eating ice cream before dinner. (Mom, this doesn’t happen much.)
2. I like having a confidant. “I’m worried about money.” … “I really don’t like going to his house, but I guess we should.” … “No, this isn’t what I ordered, but I didn’t want to tell her. Shhh.”
3. I like feeling safe. Perfect example: Last weekend, I woke up at 3:45 a.m. to Zoey barking at something outside and Pete preparing his gun. (Sometimes it’s good to not be fully awake.) Some adolescents were walking down the street past our house and he wanted to be ready. (My weapons of choice are pepper spray and a surprisingly heavy Yankee candle.) … I still remember walking with him in Sydney one night when we were dating and he quickly grabbed my hand when we passed a shady looking homeless guy in the shadows.
4. I like not dreading the end of a business trip or an outing with the girls. Before we got married, it was always sad to come home after a trip out of town or a night with friends. It was suddenly empty and lonely. Now, I look forward to going home.
5. I like having someone to eat with. Almost every morning, we have breakfast together, and almost every evening, we have dinner together. Even if it’s a few groggy words exchanged over a bowl of Cheerios, it’s time with Pete and I enjoy it. I’m sure that living six states apart for a year and a half has something to do with appreciating the small things.
6. I like the man things. Having a home that isn’t all flowers, frills and air fresheners can be good. While I don’t currently have a place to hang some of my girly decorations, I like having balance. Think skill saw, electric razor and Call of Duty on Xbox.
7. I like having someone who can do things I can’t. (I know, this is a small category.) Things like wiring a ceiling fan, installing speakers or opening the airtight pickle jar.
8. I like having someone who loves me no matter how many times I mess up. Yes, we argue, but we’re quick to make up and knowing we can do that makes the “I love you’s” mean more.
9. I like growing closer to God. And yes, this one refers to marriage. Our pastor once said that your spouse is like a mirror and you don’t always like what you see. They catch your mistakes, see your flaws and try to help you improve — to take steps toward godly living. Your spouse also helps you understand the unconditional love God has for us. And, as I’ve learned the past two and a half years, being married makes you realize that your spouse will never fulfill 100% of your needs. That’s normal. Only God can do that.
10. I like the things I don’t like. This includes: Clothes tossed over the rocking chair or piled up in the closet I just spent an hour organizing; a bare cardboard cylinder where a fresh toilet paper roll should be; mail scattered across the kitchen table; and the overabundance of salsa, popsicles and dog treats in our kitchen. Here’s why I like these things: Since we got married, the clothes have migrated from the floor to the chair to the closet and in smaller piles. There’s improvement, and I appreciate Pete listening to my nag … I mean, constructive criticism. The toilet paper roll — Yes, I still huff or let out a low “grr” when I find myself constantly being the one to put a fresh roll on, but it reminds me not to get bent out of shape over the small things and that we all have things we’re not great at. The mail is a similar story. I’m the organized one, not Pete, so this is a chance for me to step up and do what I do best. Mail all over the table gives me a chance to use my gift of organization and hopefully impart some of that gift to Pete. Plus, if given the option of living alone or living with my awesome husband and getting his mail, too, which would I choose? … Finally, the salsa, popsicles and dog treats — all things that Pete purchases when they are on sale no matter how many we already have. He came home last week and said, “Guess what I bought.” “Oh no, you didn’t buy more popsicles, did you?” No, he had not. Second guess. Dog treats? Yep. (I’m getting good at this game.)