This week I’m taking a back seat to writing and handing it over to my husband. The first thing that attracted me to Rob was his deep wisdom and how he always had a desire to learn and grow. I hope you enjoy his story of our journey and what he has learned about marriage so far! I was first introduced to Gwen seven years ago at a young adults event at our church. She was currently dating a friend of mine so I didn’t consider her a possibility. I didn’t get to know her fully until three years later when she was an intern in the department at the church I work for.
I noticed I was at ease around her and could easily share anything to her. We spent a lot of time together in groups of friends and volunteering. BUT… I kept a distance emotionally because I was guarded against getting too close to women. I wasn’t feeling ready to date and start a life with someone (we were only 21). My goal was to date the one and only that I was going to marry. This is not a great game plan in hindsight, but I wanted to be sure I could see the woman as a potential wife before we even starting dating.
After her internship she told me she had feelings for me. This caught me off guard. I had not expected her to be so upfront and honest (now I realize that upfront and honest is her style – this is a huge blessing to any married man to not have to guess what your wife is thinking or feeling). I did not reciprocate the feelings at the time, so I declined in the most gentle way I could.
Flash forward, after two years of getting to known her more, my feelings changed towards her (I take a long time to make decisions about change). I saw her dedication, her passion, her kindness, her compassion, and her wisdom. I knew she had everything I wanted in a future spouse. Now I had to get the courage to ask her on a date. Needless to say that I did, and a year later we got married.
Being with Gwen has been wonderful! I love being a husband. Marriage can either bring out the best or worse out of men and I feel she brings out my best! We unfortunately have had many obstacles that have come our way that were out of our control but I believe that we have dealt with these issues well because of how we chose to stick together. Besides all of these obstacles, marriage is amazing. I get to be with my best friend everyday as we do life together.
Most days are great and of course moments where we disagree or become frustrated, but I have learned so far that I can only control how I act towards my wife and that my actions will either bring out the best or the worst out of her. Here are some things I’ve learned that have made our good marriage a great marriage:
1) Always Love Unconditionally: Love is a choice, not a feeling. To love somebody is a verb and an act. Of course Gwendolyn has moments where she is not herself or acts in an in an unloving way but I choose to love her even then. I choose to react in love and kindness. I choose to reach out to her to understand her instead of pulling away. You will be amazed how quickly your wife’s attitude will change if in their most emotional moments you react in love and acceptance.
2) Blur the Gender Roles: I just finished making supper and doing the dishes. Yesterday I did laundry. 60 years ago these are tasks that no man would probably ever do, but when we got married we said we would always give 100%. Gwen suffers from fibromyalgia so she has good days and bad days. Of course she does what she can but I have had to step up and do whatever has to be done regardless of what the stereotypes are. Even if you are not married to someone with a chronic illness, helping with the laundry, dishes, and housework should be a high priority as a man. This is one big way to show your wife that you love and appreciate them.
3) Our Needs Come First: when we got married, we vowed to put each other first before any other human. The two of us became our own family unit. This means that I need to put her needs before anyone else’s (of course within reason) and she does the same for me. That means I put her in front of friends and family. That may sound like a weird concept to some but ultimately she is my first priority and that goes both ways. If one of us has a need to be met, the other one goes out of the way and sacrifices to meet it.
There are so many other things for me to learn but I will spend the rest of my marriage getting to know my wife and pursuing her heart.