Have you ever heard of the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child?”
Well, I am realizing all the more that it also takes a village to raise a marriage.
I don’t know if people do this just to be polite, but RJ and I are often complimented on our marriage; by people who we have known for years, by people who we have just met earlier in an evening, by people who haven’t even met us but have heard/read about our dynamic, by student friends, by older couples, by peers, by people who have been married for a long time, by people who have never been married, by single people, etc.
We are often told that we have a great dynamic, that it looks like we have a really fun marriage (and really, it’s way more fun than you can even imagine or is fair!), and that we have figured what works well for us.
I’m not writing this just to toot our marriage horn (American colloquialism!! I’ll be sure to point out every American colloquialism I use from now on in my blog). We really feel so honored and so undeserving of these kind words, and truly appreciate them when they are given.
We do have our share of ups and downs, of fights, of misunderstandings, of hurt feelings, of conflicts to work through, etc. But God has been so gracious that at the end of the day, we still get to laugh together and truly appreciate one another. That is, unless he blocks my longest road in Settlers of Catan. Then I might sulk until I fall asleep on the couch (hey, that only happened once!!).
Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, RJ and I are so endlessly blessed to work for an organization that highly values marriage and provides so much support and community for marriages. It is a true blessing.
And as I was thinking today about how we are so blessed to be in the place where we are at with our marriage, I couldn’t help but think about all of the couples who have invested so deeply in our marriage, directly or indirectly, and opened up their own marriages to be windows into what a good and godly marriage looks like. It is truly because of these couples that RJ and I have the marriage that we have today. We are forever indebted to them.
Like Couple A and Couple B, who shared their lives and opened up their marriages to me and our church youth group in high school. Who, for those who didn’t come from Christian families, modeled what true love, servanthood, and forgiveness looked like in a Christian marriage. These couples took on the roles of spiritual parents to lead and guide us in our budding walks with Jesus. And though I wasn’t thinking at that point in time, “Wow, this is what a good loving marriage looks like,” I can look back and say for sure that Couple A and Couple B laid the foundation for what kind of marriage I would want in the future. And I am so thankful for their investment in my formative years.
Or Couple C, who opened up their home life and let some college students into their world. They modeled Christ at the center of their marriage, they modeled Christ at the center of their family, they were open with their story, and in their vulnerability, they demonstrated that while there are hardships in marriage, there can also be true reconciliation. As a single woman, they cared for my heart so well and in their protection of my heart, showed me that I was worth more than just an average guy; I was worth a good man. They have been the source of much life and relationship wisdom, whether they were trying to be intentional in imparting this wisdom or not, and I still carry their words with me today.
Or Couple D, who also opened their home life up to a bunch of college kids (notice a trend?), giving us a peek into their marriage and their family life. In our time of pre-marital counseling with them, they helped us work through some potential issues that could arise between a culturally white and a culturally Asian mixed couple, sharing some words of wisdom that became real as they shared their own life examples. In the toughest moments of our relationship, they were there with compassion, with understanding, and with the kind of wisdom that reassures you that you and your significant other aren’t alone in your struggle, but that others have been there before. And in them knowing me longer than RJ, they have seen and affirmed the healing in my own life that has taken place through our marriage, and they have affirmed RJ in his role in my healing.
Or Couple E, who did the other half of our pre-marital counseling, who, though I was a state away from them, became a new window through which I could see how a great marriage can be lived out. In their vulnerability in sharing their own personal back stories and how it had affected their marriage, they have been a huge comfort for me personally in my own fears with how my similar back story would affect my marriage. They were also there in the toughest moments of our relationship, with comfort, with wisdom, and with encouragement to keep moving towards one another in love and forgiveness. And I tend to think that RJ has done more good for me than I in him, but in them knowing RJ longer than me, they have seen and affirmed the growth in RJ’s life that has taken place through our marriage, and they have affirmed me in my role in his growth.
Or Couple F, who, good grief, I can’t even BEGIN to express how much we have been blessed by. So completely and abundantly blessed. By God’s sovereignty, we were placed under their care as a newly married couple, and they just completely let us into their marriage as they patiently helped us work out the kinks in our own newly formed marriage. I don’t know how many times I met with Kristin in that first year with, “I don’t understand how he could ___!” or “Arrrrgh, RJ did ____!!!” or just a simple, “What do I do??” And how many times she would just smile because she had been there before and knew exactly what I was going through. And I know it was the same for RJ. There was just this comfort in knowing that at least one other couple had endured the same hardships, and that just makes you feel better and less crazy and alone, somehow? Anyways, Couple F has been there each step of the way since RJ and I have been married, and we are so endlessly thankful for their wisdom and love in our lives. We have learned so much from them, through their words of wisdom, but also through their lives.
All of these couples have been hugely instrumental in raising our marriage, but I can’t forget all of the other couples that we get to rub shoulders and share life with. The couples from our community group at church, the other couples who we work with, and the couples who we know from all over the place. We are SO lucky to be surrounded by so many other couples who share their stories so openly, and each of these couples have had an impact on RJ and my marriage as it stands today.
So why does it take a village to raise a marriage?
- We just need the additional support as we are navigating through the first few years of our lives. Like a marriage support group, haha.
- We need the encouragement when things are looking crazy that it will all get better.
- We need to know that we aren’t crazy and we aren’t the only ones going through a particular problem, but actually, almost everyone else has too!
- We need the wisdom from others who have gone before us.
- We need to know that we will be okay.
- We need the push when one of us is being too hard-hearted or stubborn and needs to apologize.
- We need the push to forgive.
Now I’m not saying that you can’t have a good marriage if you don’t have a village to raise your good marriage. I am not saying that at all. You totally can. But I just know for RJ and I, it would have taken a lot longer and probably been a lot more heart-wrenching to get to where we are now if we didn’t have the help of other couples who have shared their lives so openly with us and invested in us deeply along the way.
So we are thankful for our village. :)