I was married to my best friend on May 27, 2006.
At the time, I was only 20 years old and she was 19. Although we were young, our 6 year dating relationship felt like an eternity. We spent years talking about marriage, and the months before the wedding included advice from friends and family as well as premarital counseling with our mentor who was to marry us. We did a lot of planning, set out our expectations, and tried to figure out what marriage would be like. Finally, I got to practice being a husband.
The first year wasn't all that difficult. Yes, we had to learn to share a space, divvy out chores, and set boundaries in our new home, but none of that was too difficult. We didn't agree on everything, but we hardly ever argued. I was a little spoiled by that first year, because this made it easy to be a husband.
In years since, we've encountered challenges like finding a new church home, transitioning from college to a career lifestyle, and buying a home. With big discussions comes the potential for big disagreement. I've learned something through this, possibly more important than any other lesson I've learned as a husband. I learned that relationships are made and broken in the midst of conflict.
Think about it. When you get along with someone, share hobbies, and enjoy each other's company, the friendship/marriage/etc. feels easy. You're both happy with the give and take, and you don't want to change a thing. But throw a hot topic into the mix. All of a sudden, there's potential for hurt feelings or worse. You find yourself tip-toeing through a minefield, cautions of every word and gesture, hoping you don't cause offense.
Katie and I learned a lot about each other through these big decisions, because we both make these decisions differently. We had to learn not only how to understand what the other wanted, but also how to speak their language. Should I ask about her gut feeling, or should I bring up the pros and cons? Are finances more important than benefits right now? Do we want to live close to work or close to friends and family?
This was the second big lesson I learned about being a husband. I learned that I always have to try to speak the language of my wife. Sometimes this means I avoid a sticky subject when it doesn't need to be discussed. Other times it means I should listen quietly and empathetically instead of trying to give advice.
Speaking her language is my best way of loving her. It makes me think about her wants and needs, not just my own. It helps me to communicate my thoughts and feelings more clearly. It just plan helps us communicate better, and don't they say that communication is what a marriage is all about?
Whatever your methods, being a husband is all about trying to be a better husband today than you were yesterday.
Always moving forward,