Today is a very special day in our house — my husband, Levon, turned the big 3-0! Woo-hoo! And in honor of his birthday, I wanted to write a post in his honor. I’m going to try to refrain from getting too sappy … but I can’t promise there won’t be a little gushing. *wink* There will be a bit of praise-singing — it is, after all, his big day — but stick with me, because there is a big marriage lesson woven throughout it all.
I’m no marriage expert, and ours, like anyone’s, is not without its hiccups and struggles. But the perspective I’m about to share with you is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the almost eight years we’ve been married. And it’s what keeps me focused on God’s design for my marriage, helps me appreciate our differences, and eliminates the temptation to throw in the towel when things get tough.
The transformative marriage lesson is this: Marriage is like a puzzle, and you need all the pieces to produce the right picture.
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WHAT DRIVES ME CRAZY IS SOMETIMES EXACTLY WHAT I NEED
As many of you know, I recently wrote and produced an ebook, and its launch is one of my greatest and most exciting accomplishments. I’ve dreamed most of my life of writing and selling a book one day, and now it’s becoming a reality. In all my years of dreaming, though, I never thought I would actually do it.
But I did. And I have Levon to thank for that. I would never have done it without his encouragement and pushing. In fact, I wouldn’t be doing any of what I’m doing with The Merry Momma without him. Because he is exactly the kick in the pants that I needed.
… But it’s also what used to drive me crazy.
Levon is a go-getter. He is very driven, very determined, and very daring. He’s not afraid to take risks, and he’s not all that concerned about what other people think of him. In a good way!
I, on the other hand, spent most of my life staying where I was comfortable. I was driven as long as it was an area I felt I could succeed. But if it was new, if it was scary, or if I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, then forget it. As far as risks go, I’m about as risk-averse as you can get. And people pleasing? Oh boy. I’ve been an approval addict for most of my life.
And God, in His great wisdom, put us together.
I like to joke that when we met, God turned to Jesus, handed him a bag of popcorn, and said, “Watch this, Jesus.” I say it tongue-in-cheek, of course, but it was quite a ride in the beginning. I had gotten pretty skilled at avoiding anything that was scary, anything that was risky, and anything that might lead to failure. I either convinced people to do it for me, or I avoided it altogether.
And then I met Levon, and he refused to play along and enable my fears.
He pushed me, he challenged me, he made me do things I didn’t want to do. And that drove me absolutely crazy. I hated it.
But after a few years of frustration, of wondering why he couldn’t just let me stay where I was, why he was the one person I couldn’t convince to do the scary things for me, and WHAT in the world God was thinking, an interesting thing happened.
I began to notice I was doing a lot more things than I had ever done before. Things that used to terrify me no longer made me bat an eye. And some of those big hairy goals that I thought were impossible? I was taking real steps toward them.
And I began to think that maybe his pushes weren’t so bad after all. Maybe he wasn’t mean. Maybe he didn’t love me less than others had.
Maybe … just maybe … he was exactly what I needed in order to become who God wanted me to be.
SHIFTING MY PERSPECTIVE
Once I started to notice how much I had grown from Levon’s influence, I began to see how our differences in personality were, in fact, assets, not liabilities. Where I am weak, he is strong. Where I struggle, he excels. Where I fear, he is brave.
And vice versa.
And that’s when I realized that we are each sets of puzzle pieces. And we need all the pieces — his and mine — to complete the picture of God’s design for our life together. And that epiphany revolutionized the way I look at our marriage.
I used to resent some of our differences. They were frustrating. They were difficult. Why couldn’t he just be more like me? Why did we have to be so different?
Now I know — because if we had all the same pieces, we wouldn’t be able to complete our puzzle.
It’s when we bring our pieces together, fitting his into mine, that our picture comes into focus. And it’s that perspective that helps me appreciate his unique qualities. Because those differences make me a better version of myself than I would have been on my own.
Can you relate to any of my story? Do you ever resent your husband’s “special” qualities? Have you ever wished he could just be more like you?
Perhaps this perspective can help. Try viewing those frustrating differences through the lens of a puzzle. Find the ways that his pieces fit into your gaps. Think about the bigger picture that you create together.
The process of coming together isn’t always fun, but it’s always worth it. Because it’s exciting when we realize the sacred mathematics of marriage — that the whole can be even greater than the sum of its parts. We are better together than we each were on our own.
It just requires a little puzzle perspective.
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