I’ve still got a long way to go and, as they say, results may vary, but here are three positive ways that marriage to Megan has begun to change me.
1. Learning to love better
The more circumstances require you to love like Christ, the more like Christ you become. That’s the hope at least because such circumstances pop up in marriage all the time — little moments where loving poorly can cause enduring damage, and loving well can heal, or at the very least prevent harm. You know how it goes: a conversation takes a turn that maybe neither one of you saw coming, or your spouse calls you on one of your shortcomings, or a crisis suddenly manifests. It could be the finances, the kids, the work hours. It could be all of those, as often happens, all mixed up. The question is: Can you love your spouse well through the difficult moment?
Not always, if you’re like me. But I find as these opportunities increase, so does my facility in handling them. That hasn’t always been the case. I’ve been married before and failed spectacularly. But by trying to make loving well my top priority in such moments, navigating life’s difficulties has become easier, and our relationship has strengthened in the midst of very trying times.
2. Seeing weaknesses better
Like many couples, Megan and I share different strengths and weaknesses. In some ways they are polar opposites, and this has really served us well, me particularly. Because I’m weak where she’s strong and vice versa, I’ve become much more alert to behavior patterns and thought processes of mine that are problematic. These are things I either failed to notice before getting married or never thought were terribly important. It turns out they are wildly important in some cases, and I never would have seen them outside my marriage.
Marriage is a mirror that reveals many defects. It’s also a hospital to heal some and a gym to discipline others. And I need all of those things.
3. Wanting to be better
I’m not content to love poorly or let my weaknesses win. There is too much riding on my marriage for that.
Before marrying, I was pretty self-satisfied. I had outward pressures to grow and mature, pressures that were even acute from time to time, but since marrying I find myself internally driven. There’s a push from within to grow and mature, to be what Megan needs me to be, what my children need to be. As a single person, self-improvement didn’t seem to matter much. As a married person, self-improvement has become imperative.
These are only three areas. There have been many others, and I’m sure God has used my marriage to reshape my character in ways I’m not even aware of. Here’s what I do know: When you go to work on your marriage, marriage goes to work on you.
This is not to say that I’ve attained to much of anything. I only have the rest of my life (and eternity) to grow more like Christ, and I’ll need every minute. When striving for the upward call, we ought never plateau. But I know where I’ve been, have a sense of where I’m going, and am overjoyed to be on the journey with my wife.