Earlier this evening, Eric and I attended a bonfire event for our church and it was a fabulous night for it. The air was crisp, but not windy. The stars were out. It was a beautiful Fall evening and a harvest moon was the only missing element. On the way to the event, I mentioned how much I would enjoy living out in the country away from everything. I admired the trees and the changing leaves and dreamed about getting lost in my own little corner of the world.
Eric’s thoughts were… slightly different. ~smile~ “I get plenty of solitude in my house.” Not surprisingly, Eric, who spends as little time outside as possible, has no interest in living out among the trees and forest creatures. He is satisfied with his one dog and would not have time or interest in keeping chickens, raising cattle, or growing a magnificent garden. And, the yard work?! There is no way Eric would get out and mow several acres of ground… no matter how beautiful the property!
As we discussed our different takes on country living, it reminded me of many of our other conversations. He likes chocolate; I like vanilla. He is from California; I am from North Carolina. He likes to play games (i.e., active entertainment); I like to watch tv and movies (i.e., passive entertainment). He is a go-getter, INTJ, Enneagram type 3; whereas, I am a laid-back, ISFP, Enneagram type 9. He is the prophet; I am the mercy-giver. We are so… different.
So, tonight, as we disagreed on preferences (once again), the thought crossed my mind, “Why are we married?” Inside, I chuckled to myself a bit. Why are we – two completely different people – married? Why did we want to get married in the first place? Why are we still married? How is it possible that we like each other when we share so little in common?
Why Are We Still Married?
The answer to why we are still married is an easy one: we got married with the understanding that we were entering a covenant; and, even when we reach the end of tethers with each other, we remember that the One greater than us is the Lord of our marriage. It is not about us. It is about God.
But, Why Did We Get Married in the First Place?
The answer to why we got married in the first place sometimes leaves us both scratching our heads. We are opposites. What happened? How did we even find each other? Well, we found each other in college when our paths landed us both in pursuit of a psychology degree. Eric was called to be a counselor; whereas, I was fascinated with marriage and thought marriage counseling sounded fun and rewarding. Additionally, I had not found myself yet and I pursued psychology, in part, because I was interested in figuring out why people are the way they are. Eric was on a specific journey towards a specific goal – to become a pre-marital counselor.
Because we were on a similar trajectory at the same time, we had plenty to discuss. We enjoyed (and still enjoy) talking about personality and figuring out what inspires, motivates, and angers people. We debated (lightly… as I am a terrible debater) which was better: marriage counseling or premarital counseling. We shared books for some classes so we could save a bit of cash and so we spent a decent amount of time together.
In college, we seemed similar. Why? Because our entire world revolved around the same goals – doing homework, school projects, completing the degree program objectives, graduating, and then starting all over again in graduate school.
But, you guys are really different!
After our friendship grew into a pre-marital relationship, Eric and I joined my friend and her parents at the beach. While Lauran and I enjoyed the water, Eric and Lauran’s mom had a chat. She listened to him talk about himself, and us, and our goals, and then she said, “You and Heather are really different.” He was adamant, “No, we have a lot in common,” but she was not swayed. Having known me for well over a decade and from watching me interact with her daughter throughout the years, she knew better; and, she had insight he did not. Personality-wise, there are few people more different than Eric and me. She called it. ~smile~
What Is Your Common World (and Have You Ever Left It)?
Usually, there is a commonality which initially brings couples together. Sometimes it is a mutual friend; sometimes it is vicinity; and, sometimes it is work, church, or hobbies. For us, it was the same educational degree program and specialization. When a couple is in the world which brought them together, it seems like they are extremely well matched. When a man and woman are killing it together on the church softball team, on a group project at work, or training for a marathon, their lives align easily. It takes stepping out of that common world to see the truth.
When Eric and I stepped out of our school world into married world, we were somewhat blown away. My assumptions about married life were proven wrong before the first week ended. Eric found himself frustrated day after day with my attitude towards our graduate program. We then realized that we were far from similar.
Though disillusioned, Eric and I were blessed. Even though we did not listen to people who suggested we might not be as well matched as we thought we were, we did have a few extremely important traits in common which has helped us significantly.
Though our personalities are far apart, we are members of the same faith and believe Jesus Christ is the only way to God the Father, and therefore the only way to Heaven. (cf. John 14:6) We share the same political opinions (largely due to our shared faith). We both enjoy studying personality. We both love dogs and we are both extremely cuddly. (Being cuddly may not seem like an important characteristic to share, but it has been very helpful to us since we do not bond over intellectual conversation or a shared love of the Andy Griffith Show. ~smile~) When nothing else draws us together, our frequent need for hugs does and I am grateful for that!
I shudder to think what our marriage would be like today if we did not have those core beliefs in common. It took living life and seeing each other in tons of different situations to learn what we shared and how we differed. Something as simple as how Eric responds to others’ Facebook posts can upset me:
Me: “Why were you so blunt? Do you not think about people’s feelings?”
Him: “Well, why do you beat around the bush with people? Do you not care about the truth?”
Had we only thought, “We need to write a Couple’s Creed,” we might have uncovered a lot about each other before tying the knot. However, a couple’s creed is only effective if couples get down to the nitty gritty difficult topics and are completely honest and vulnerable with each other when they write it.
Are you willing and ready?
Why Is a Couple’s Creed Important to Our Relationship?
- Couples need to know where they honestly stand on a laundry list of topics. Sometimes, this requires research and putting yourselves in new and uncomfortable situations.
- Working on your creed opens the door to discuss difficult topics you have been actively avoiding. For extremely delicate or sensitive topics, it is wise to bring in a 3rd party – Christian couples’ counselor, pastor trained in couples’ counseling, a mentor couple, etc. – to mediate the discussion (we would also be glad to work with you!)
- When times get tough, couples can return to their written creeds and remind themselves what they believe and the type of life they are striving to achieve. Are our lives showing what we believe to others?
- It is a document which bonds couples together. No one else on Earth is a part of your creed, but the two of you.
- Your creed is an added security measure. We put alarms in our homes. We lock our doors. We take steps to make ourselves safer. In marriage, the more safeguards you place around your relationship, the better. The creed takes away the “But, I didn’t know he or she believed….” excuse which people use when they want to escape their marriages. If both people are honest with themselves and each other, preparing for and writing your couples’ creed will uncover a ton of beliefs.
It may not seem like it on the surface, but creating a Couple’s Creed is a brave (and necessary) undertaking. By doing so, you are saying, “We may uncover some uncomfortable truths, but we would rather know and face them than go in blindly and hope for the best.” It is hard work. It does require introspection and sometimes talking about painful memories; but, it also opens you and your partner up to a much deeper understanding of each other and a closer friendship.
In our next post, we will talk about how to construct your couple’s creed! Have a great week, everyone!
What Does the Bible Say?
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12, ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14, ESV)
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4, ESV)
“Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife. – Franz Schubert
There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage. – Martin Luther
Marriage can be tough. It really is. But God is calling you to do everything you can. It’s just not you and your spouse. There’s a third person in your marriage. And God would like to bless and protect that marriage, and give you many fruitful days ahead. – Tim Huelskamp
When will you discuss constructing a Couple’s Creed with your partner?