Our first Christmas

Written by David on December 26, 2012

I haven’t blogged about life in marriage since the wedding, partly because there’s been so much to say and so much going on, and partly because I wanted to be able to write objectively about everything.

Suzi and I are back in Tulsa for the first time since the wedding, spending time with our families for Christmas, and planning to fly back to Seattle tomorrow. There’s been a lot of ambivalence and adjustment with being back. Home doesn’t quite feel like home, after Suzi and I have staked our home in Seattle and a handful of friends have moved away… I’ve also stayed a few nights at Suzi’s place and am more or less abiding by their way of doing things, which is much more family oriented than I’ve been familiar with.

From hanging out with many of Suzi’s friends and being asked how marriage has been, I’ve been processing how things have been going. I remember Jimmy saying once in our marriage group that one thing he really wanted for his marriage was transparency - not to be falsely joyful in the midst of conflict. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Fellowship is imperative. I had been blessed to get plugged into a church in Seattle within my first few months there, a church that I think is well grounded and in which I can sense growth and authenticity. I can’t quite verbalize how big of a difference I think it has made for us to be able to have genuine friends in these critical first few months, to be able to lean on others for counsel and truth and balance. I fondly remember Korean barbecue at Jimmy’s, Suzi winning her first Seven Wonders game, Bananagrams at Tim and Tina’s, the many people (and Evie, Chris’s relentlessly optimistic Pomeranian) pursuing Suzi, and even that amazing deal at Ezell’s Chicken.
  • Dating isn’t like marriage. In some sense, that sounds like a no-brainer, but I think it’s really not like marriage. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to be in a dating relationship longer than a year or two, because I think the person you date is still significantly different from the person you marry (at least, in that, marriage is such a monumental event that it inevitably changes the people involved). As much as I thought dating would give me a glimpse of how Suzi would live in marriage, there are certainly things that marriage ushered in that I couldn’t have known beforehand
  • Suzi and I have communication issues. We fight more than I thought we would (though I indeed disengage about as much as I feared I would), and I remember Billy telling us that conflict wasn’t a bad thing in his best man speech. In some ways, I really do think that our differences have become more pronounced, in terms of our eating and spending habits, our love languages, and the way we act when we get tired.
  • Suzi and I fight about driving - it’s one of our main fighting points. Apparently it’s normal. I guess that brings me to the next point:
  • Marriage is humbling. Not so much in the happy sense, like “this is awesome - I’m being sanctified!” but more in the “Arg, I don’t feel like I can do anything right” kind of way. I’ve experienced this, at least, in the context of driving (and in the context of trying to make a pizza). I realize that I am pretty awkward and prone to walk away from people mid-conversation (sorry Teeko) and that I can be hilariously misinformed about some pretty obvious things. In terms of character traits, I’m often quick to speak or to shut down and quick to anger and would rather go to sleep than stay awake and try to understand how Suzi is feeling emotionally.
  • Suzi and I are different. I didn’t know that Suzi has gangster-type mannerisms or that she randomly breaks into foreign accents. Or that she doesn’t use napkins very much. And she doesn’t exactly desire cuddling.
  • Suzi and I can push each other towards God in a unique way, in knowing each other intimately and knowing how we spend our time/knowing that we need to consecrate the time we spend together. It does happen, though we’ve only had a few sustained glimpses of it. We’ve had some good conversations and have gone through a few books together (Nehemiah, 2 Corinthians, Ezra, Hosea). I am among a community that is constantly challenging me to be a spiritual leader and to look after/challenge Suzi spiritually, as it is my Biblical role to return her back to Christ holy and blameless.
  • I’ve learned a lot from Suzi and our church. I realize that it’s not sin to be rich, but to stay rich, and that God’s will is ultimately, simply obedience. I realize a certain level of conflict is good for a marriage. The implications of salvation are intensely, impossibly difficult, and many are deceived to think they have tasted it (in the past or in the current). I sometimes compliment others to try to manipulatively earn their favor (because I find an element of my value in their favor). I’ve been challenged in terms of fighting for justice for the oppressed and in terms of how I spend my money and time and how I work at work. I’m slowly learning what it means to love Christ with my heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to work a job wholeheartedly as to the Lord, even during the times that I don’t enjoy it, and to sacrificially love and serve Suzi during the times I feel disrespected or wronged.

One moment that I’ve held onto took place one night during our first month together. We were about to go to sleep when I accidentally said something I shouldn’t have said. Suzi was frustrated and went downstairs while I turned away and fell asleep… when I woke up the next morning to go to work, Suzi had spent the night making me a lunch.

I have to say… if I didn’t believe that marriage was a picture of the love Christ has for the church, I would be terrified of marriage, because Suzi and I are so different and can be so selfish. Only because I know we are both commanded by God to abound in grace and mercy and love towards one another am I able to be so confident.