On the Common 041
A nap and a snack.
Happy first day of September. Fall is on the way. I could not be happier. Our front yard looks like a scorched earth disaster zone.
My fall playlist has been on repeat since last week, and I think it gets earlier every year. I made soup last week. I just reach the point where I am going to act like it’s fall, even though it was 93 degrees yesterday. I don’t care. I am OVER IT.
The Part Where There’s an Essay: The Michael Jordan Year
Last month, David and I celebrated 23 years of marriage. We’ve moved on from saying “Our marriage can drive,” or “our marriage is old enough to drink,” to sports figures, I think: this is our Michael Jordan year.
In celebration of the grace that’s gotten us this far, I offer you 23 lessons from 23 years of marriage.
“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” does not mean continuing the conversation/argument until 2 AM. For the love of your marriage, please call a truce, stop talking, and get some sleep. You can pick things up when you’re rested. You might even find it’s not that big a deal in the light of day.
There’s a lot of pressure around “date nights” for married people, especially in an Instagram world. This is tricky when you have no money or little kids, and it’s ok if your “date nights” just look like quality time spent with one another -- whether that be takeout Chinese eaten in your living room after the kids are in bed or a walk around the neighborhood while the 11-year-old holds down the fort for an hour.
Tiny remembrances can sustain a relationship through hard times. Write things down. Use a calendar. Remember dates.
If you’re arguing about something dumb, you’re probably arguing about something else. Take a beat and examine your heart. What are you afraid of? Most of our serious disagreements have had at the root of them a kind of fear.
Your marriage is your marriage. Comparing it to someone else’s marriage can be deadly, whether it be your best friends or an internet influencer. Knock it off.
God frequently puts extroverts and introverts together. Instead of allowing this to be a wedge between you, let it serve you. Introverts, you could stand to have more people in your life. Extroverts, you could stand to be quiet sometimes.
Laughter goes a long way. Be willing to laugh at yourselves.
Dry seasons happen: times when you feel like you’re not communicating -- that you’re just missing each other. Don’t panic. Keep going. Talk to other, older, hopefully wiser married people. Seek counseling.
Quit rolling your eyes at your spouse’s hobbies, and get interested. I can’t tell you how great it’s been for our marriage that I am willing to chat about Cubs’ baseball and space travel, and David is willing to read Jane Austen. If you think they are dumb for being interested in that thing, remember that they are also interested in you.
Confess quickly. Go first.
Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. At the risk of murdering this metaphor, I say: you will have years of hills and cramps and discouragement, and you will have years when the runner’s high kicks in and you’re coasting downhill. Most of it will be somewhere in the middle.
In the spirit of (11), remember that this institution of God’s making is designed to make you into someone else: someone more like Jesus. If you thought that this would be pleasurable all the time, you were mistaken. Welcome aboard.
Never underestimate the immediate, sanctifying power of (a) a nap and (b) a snack.
What we often overlook in the blur of life and parenting is kindness. Speak kindly to each other. Act kindly towards each other. Be the other person’s number one advocate.
Go on double dates with people older than you. Go on double dates with people younger than you. Seeing other seasons, with their triumphs and struggles, gives you a good perspective on your own season.
Recognize that in spite of the fact that you both are new creations in Christ, you also come with family-of-origin habits, assumptions, and tendencies. You will see your partner’s before you recognize your own.
Marriage is only one way to live the Christian life. Singleness is another way. Don’t treat your single friends like characters in a romantic comedy because you want to relive that high of falling in love. Help if they want help. Ask sometimes. But don’t make it their entire existence.
Remember that forgiveness is difficult for your spouse, too.
Part of your role as a spouse is a caretaker of their story, their pain, and their growth. Handle those things with care, especially in how you speak about them.
Good marriages are good for their surrounding culture, be that their church, their children, or their neighborhood. Have a broad view of your family; be generous with it and share it. You will end up benefiting.
Pray honestly. When you don’t know, say that you don’t know. God promises to give wisdom to those who ask for it.
Trust that a spouse’s happiness in their work is more valuable than a good salary.
Leave time and hope for growth. Cynicism is easy nowadays; hope is hard. Do the hard thing and hope.
For the Anglophiles
If my calendar is correct, the UK will close down the voting on their new Prime Minister tomorrow, September 2. We should hear who the new PM is over the weekend. Remember that it is not the general populace who is voting this time around, but just members of the Conservative party (the party that’s currently in power).
When there is a general election, one of my favorite BBC things is dogs at polling stations.
Reads & Listens of the Week
I thought there was good wisdom in this episode from The Lazy Genius about How to Connect With Friends More Regularly.
Remember the end of The Last Battle, how Susan Pevensie is reportedly no longer “a friend of Narnia”? I enjoyed this conversation with David Marshall, entitled “We Need to Talk About Susan.”
Why Does it Seem Like Everybody Hates Everything? This one has some language in it, but wow — it’s worth a listen. What happened in the last two decades that has made everyone seem extra cranky? Why do negative takes on things automatically get more airtime? There is some great historical perspective here.
Chris Martin asks “What Can We Learn From the Instagram Egg?” “Mundanity is the magic of the social internet….”
Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first of September was crisp and golden as an apple. - JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
This is also critical in parenting.
Kelly, that was excellent! Congrats on 23 years!!!