Friday, June 25, 2010

Observations on Marriage After 15 Years

Many words have been spoken, many books written about marriage and how to make it work.

After 15 years, I'm not saying I have it figured out.  In fact, I look forward to many more years trying to figure it out with Tim.

We had an attraction from the beginning.  Tim was cute and had great legs from playing soccer, and Tim said I caught his eye because I was different from the other freshman girls at Milligan College.  Apparently he had never met a girl who knew how to shoot a rifle and thought the East Tennessee mountains were mere speed bumps compared to the "real mountains" out west.

Solid marriage - even a solid dating relationship - isn't based on attraction, though.  I could list hundreds of "beautiful" people who started out with attraction and fizzled shortly.  In fact, I'm shocked to hear how short some Hollywood marriages are.  

To rely solely on attraction and chemistry reduces the relationship to a flimsy shadow of love, simple lust.  In fact, it makes one's beloved into an idol - the object of our hopes and desires - instead of a partner in life.  When I set my beloved up as an idol, the Apostle Paul writes that I have "exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator." (Romans 1:25)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery said, "love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction."  Beyond the attraction (which does cool somewhat over the years, by the way),  Tim and I had found similarities and common experiences that helped us understand each other and appreciate each other more.  Even deeper than that, we knew we had a shared faith in God and commitment to follow Jesus Christ with our whole lives.  As we continued to date, I knew I had found a man who loved God more than he loved me, and I knew that God would bless me through him.  

We spent a summer apart in 1994.  We had separate internships - mine in North Carolina, his in Indiana.  The disconnection from each other was deeper than loneliness, and stronger than absence.  We realized that summer that we were better together.  I was a more effective person, better at my job - a better woman when he was by my side.  He found that he was a better minister, worker and person with me working alongside him.  We knew it was time to talk about getting married.  

The thrill of a common purpose and a shared passion keeps us together - beyond attraction, beyond the promises we made on June 24, 1995 (and renew in our hearts every time we attend a wedding),  and beyond "staying together for the sake of the kids."  We are a team in life, in parenthood, and as disciples of Jesus Christ.

When I was a girl, I thought I wanted someone who would be my "everything."  I wanted to be "everything" to someone, too.  But after 15 years of marriage, one thing I do know is that I am NOT my husband's everything.  His heart belongs to Jesus.  And that's just the way I want it.


Jamie Hatfield said...

Just realized I forgot to say something. Tim is NOT in full-time ministry. I work part-time for our church under Tim's leadership, but Tim does inside sales for an electrical supply company and delivers newspapers every morning. But his heart and his passion are with Christ and his church and his volunteer efforts show that. He teaches Sunday School, leads worship in the praise team and heads up our small group system. He even leads Financial Peace University.
I just didn't want people to think they can't have this shared passion if they're not in full-time ministry.

Sara at Miller Moments: said...

Great post, but I loved your postscript, too. We also share a mutual love for the church and have worked both in full-time ministry together on the same staff, apart, part-time and as volunteers. My husbands heart longs to work full-time with a church someday, and he will, as our business takes over the income provided by the j.o.b. :) Right there with you!

So proud of the relationship you guys display to all...what a wonderful legacy you're leaving! Congratulations!