I think it’s going to be like student teaching. What you learn in the college classrooms during four years are about 10% of what you learn during your student teaching semester. And what you learn in your student teaching semester is about 10% of what you learn your first year of teaching. You learn by doing, and trying, and failing, and doing again.
What is going to be like student teaching, you ask? Marriage. With the added element of being a sacred covenant, involving one other person, and a committment that is 24 hours a day for the rest of my life. And let’s assume that every sentence in this post is followed by “IF MARRIAGE IS GOD’S WILL FOR MY LIFE.” I am hoping that it is, but whether it is or isn’t is God’s business.
So, why am I on this topic? Well, I am currently reading Becoming the Woman of His Dreams, by Sharon Jaynes. I found it at Half Price Books (a very dangerous store to let me enter), and what caught my attention was that the author surveyed and interviewed actual men to find out what she could tell women in her book.
She starts off by saying, so let me start off by saying, that men are as different and unique as their fingerprints. And let me add, so are women! You can’t read a book to find out all the answers about a particular man or a particular woman. You have to go ask them! It would be like reading a book about three-year-olds. Your three-year-old is not going to follow every stage and behavior in the book about three-year-olds. And also, if you don’t have a three-year-old, or teach a classroom of three-year-olds, you’re not going to truly understand everything in the book. (Sorry, little kids are what I know. Change the metaphor to work for something in your career or daily life.)
Which brings me to my point. A three-year-old must be experienced, not read about! So must teaching. So must marriage. I’ve read a few books on marriage and being a godly woman and a godly wife, because I’m preparing for the hoped for possibility. And I think that’s a good thing to do. But I have a feeling that when I get married, I should put those books on a far-away shelf and experience it. In my first argument from my husband, am I going to whip out Feminine Appeal and tell my husband, “Carolyn Mahaney says if I do this, you will do that!” Of course not.
I have two main points to make about the subject today. Point number one, the only person I can change is myself. I first learned this from a classroom management textbook, and it applies to every area of life that involves other people, be it friendship, the workplace, or the marriage relationship. The only person I can change is myself! Reading books about a human relationship won’t magically change the other person into the perfect friend/boss/coworker/student/husband. I suppose husband and wife could intentionally read the same book, and conciously apply the concepts found therein. But in my opinion, the reason I read books about human relationships is to become a better friend/employee/coworker/teacher/wife. (If that is God’s will for my life. Don’t forget that phrase! Haha. I’m not assuming anything, I’m just preparing.) The only person I can change is me. I can’t emphasize that enough.
Point number two, your husband is more important than your children. I have read about this concept in a few how-to-be-a-godly-woman books, but it’s new to me over the last few years. I hope I continue to be reminded of it for the rest of my life, especially while I have young children. (If-that-is-God’s-will-for-my-life. It’s starting to sound like one word!) Your husband is more important than your children! Do you hear me??? Your husband is always more important than your children!
First, think of your husband. How do you think it feels if he is last on your list, behind things like diapers and baths and picking up toys and helping with homework? He asked you to marry him, he is your partner, he is the leader of your home. He gave you those children, for crying out loud. (Even if those children are adopted…Don’t think I’ve forgotten about a good portion of my family in this topic! If you are married, and have either bore or adopted children with your husband, wasn’t he an important part of the process either way?) He gets to be first. He deserves to be first.
Second, think of your children. The absolute greatest gift you can give them is the solid ground of parents who put each other first. The children don’t need to be first. Yes, they will probably cry when you leave them with a babysitter to go out with your husband, and so forth, but that’s the behavior of a child. That’s what they are supposed to do! They don’t need you to give in to their childhood behavior. They need you to show them what a solid family they have. They need you to show them how to be a good husband or wife. They need to know that they are not the reason you are with your husband, and when they grow up and move away, everything will still be fine.
Finally, think of yourself! One day, and that day comes very quickly, I hear, your children will move away. You will be left with no one but your husband for company in your house. Don’t you want that season of your life to be as happy as it can be? Don’t you want to end up living in a house with someone who is still important to you, who is still your best friend? Twenty or more years of putting other people ahead of your marriage will kill that possibility real quickly, don’t you think?
My emphatic disclaimer: I am not married!!! I am the last person you should ask for marriage advice. This post is me, paraphrasing some things I’m learning, and trying to stick them in my mind for that day when I can try applying them to real life. (IfthatisGod’swillformylife. Yep, one word.) So, when it sounds like I’m yelling or lecturing, I’m yelling and lecturing my future self! 🙂
I end this post with a story my Grandma told me. My grandparents were traveling, not too long ago, and they decided to stop at a quilting supply shop. My Grandma told me that my Grandpa was more excited than her! (In case it’s not assumed, my Grandpa definitely does not quilt! But my Grandma loves to quilt.) But he was picking out material, showing Grandma neat things he found, and loading up the cart with things he thought she needed. Grandma said there were several nice things that she really didn’t need, but she couldn’t talk him out of it! I have known my grandparents for 26 years of their 53 year marriage. And I know that the only people that can truly know a relationship are the two people who are in it. So I can’t be certain if my grandparents put their marriage ahead of their children, and I can’t be certain if they are still best friends. Only they know that. But I do know, with certainty, that this story reflects a relationship I hope to have with my husband (ifthatisGod’swillformylife) after many years of marriage, with each spouse not only willing, but excited to share the other spouse’s passions.