As a young man envisioning what life would look like in the future, I don’t think I could have once divined the one I’m currently living.
- I call a city home that I barely knew of, let alone had seen a map of, seven years ago.
- With the change in locale, my closest friends are people who I’ve only known for roughly 19% of my life.
- I’m over the moon for a woman I only just met on New Years eight years ago.
- I am entirely wrapped around the pinkie finger of a little girl and boy that were unknown quantities to me just over five years ago.
This is not the life I planned for, goal-set, or foresaw.
And yet, when I talk of what is soulish to me, I’m talking nearly entirely of these things. And up until my 28th year of life, every single one of them was an absolute mystery to me.
To that young man trying to think about his future, there was only fogginess beyond his wedding day. He didn’t possess the faculties needed to formulate any notion of what becoming a family man would look like. Especially when he was lacking so many of the required variables.
Sure, he had glimpses on particularly lonely days:
- A cute girl to carry his guitar gear in and out of band practice.
- A lot less ironing and cleaning to be performed on a semi-regular basis.
- Someone to be the de-facto plus-one at weddings, family events, and rock concerts.
You know, the kinds of things a twenty-something guy really needs in his life.
On the whole, though, there wasn’t much forethought. That kid didn’t sit around praying for a future wife. He didn’t write her letters. To put it bluntly: this boy wanted to meet a girl, he just didn’t care to sit around waiting for her. You could cross off at least half of the previously listed adventures from his twenties if he was going to be doing much of that.
I suppose some would call this “having an inactive imagination”. I liked to call it “having reasonable expectations”.
And that’s probably why marriage has far exceeded any assumptions that I could’ve previously had.
In six short years, it already feels like Jordan and I have spent a lifetime together. Married life just seems to suit us. My individual life is infinitely better with her in it.
In the past, the idea of a soul-mate was much more focused around this notion of “The One”. That perfect person who was set aside for me. And exactly when I would happen to cross paths with her. It would be inevitable that I would meet her.
It would be obvious, consequential, impactful, heart-felt.
How could it not be? If it was fate–or better yet, God–that would bring us together, it would have to be all of the above.
Over the years, this idea has evolved for me into that of a more grounded, balanced view. It doesn’t sound as romantic as being fated, star-crossed lovers, but I would argue that it is much more powerful. She and I chose each other. In a world full of entropy and chaos that seems to be sliding further away from its center, we found in the other person a safe place.
There was something to her that I couldn’t quite figure out. An intrigue that I needed to get to the bottom of.
But I don’t believe there’s some magical power keeping us together. Instead, it’s hard work, it’s sacrifice and it’s dedication.
It’s every day. It’s in, not out. It’s you, not me. It’s little, daily decisions that, in part, add up to making the whole better.
In the least cheesy way possible, I can say she’s my best friend. I just love talking to her. My day is made when I get to end it talking it over with her. I don’t want to spend my time with anyone else.
Life is better with her.
She is both challenging yet agreeable at the same time. Those that know her can’t help but adore her. She’s a true-blue friend, fiercely loyal, and a hard-working son-of-a-gun. And I’m the first one in line to benefit. I could fawn over her twice as long as I’m intending this post to be, but I’ll save you the schmooze and just say this:
I’m an incredibly blessed man.
And marriage is a truly glorious affair. It is. But it’s also unlike anything else I’ve ever known. I think that’s because it’s made up of these two unique personalities. And so it takes on an entirely new disposition all of it’s own. We’re still the same old people, but then we come together and now we’re this whole new entity. This couple. This thing.
The nuance and tacit nature of this new reality isn’t made evident, however, until the fresh, new car smell of it has almost completely worn off. It’s this lived-in thing that is both beautiful and sacred, while simultaneously ordinary and mundane.
We work hard but we rest hard too. Buying a house together, fixing it up and investing a little sweat equity into it has helped us realize that we work well together moving towards a common goal. We also try to have our hand on the pulse of when the other needs a break or a night off from the other. And then we abscond to our favorite nooks of the house to write, study, or binge-watch some Netflix.
This is what the married life of two introverts (and Enneagram 9’s) looks like.
But sometimes it gets too mundane and too ordinary. Sometimes we slip into our routines and do so well keeping to ourselves and out of each other’s hair that we forget to venture into this exclusive shared space that is uniquely ours. That space where we’re one, not only in body, but in soul. Sometimes it’s good to step on each other’s toes a little.
This is the yeoman’s work of our particular flavor of cohabitation. To push into this relationship, to drive it even further toward the sublime. It’s a constant juggle between “me” and “us” and finding the delicate balance between the two. I think one of our greatest joys so far has been settling into a simple cadence of life that has worked surprisingly well for both of us.
Which means this dance between us can either merely satisfy our basic human needs, or it can move us into the realm of the divine. That’s what’s so beautiful about it. It’s ours to make of it what we will. Together, she and I have birthed this lovely rhythm and have made it our own. And it works, it just does. Yet we know that there is more waiting if we will continue to put the other first. To remove more of “me” from the equation and add more of “us”.
We’re only six years in, but I can honestly say that marriage is one of, if not the most, supreme lessons in selflessness that this life can offer. And attaining that level of self-effacement is something we can vow to fulfill early on, and then something entirely different to actually live out later. It certainly isn’t given.
It’s something you have to give.
And it is well worth the cost.
Now, quickly, a few tips that have helped my wife and I immensely in our first few years of life spent together. Take’em or leave’em.
- Keep a good, realistic budget. I don’t know if I can overstate this enough. Staying on the same page financially will save yourself a metric sh*t ton of stress and your relationship a good many arguments. Being the nerd I am, I’ve come up with a pretty detailed budget that tends to focus on the past. With Jordan’s help, we are now also using it to plan for the future. If you need a kick-start into budgeting, I’ve saved off a generic copy of the one I’ve been developing over the last 7 years for you to download here. No need to thank me for your inevitable descent into nerd-dom.
- Take on projects together. Sweat co-equity, four-elbow grease, and rubbing shoulders with your one-and-only has a magical effect that, I believe, can be only beneficial for a marriage. We both love working hard towards something and then celebrating hard when it’s completed. The camaraderie, the laughs, the sweat, the frustration, the accomplishment. It all goes toward building more life and shared experiences together. This, to me, is a good thing.
- Eat dinner together every night. Old-fashioned alert! Thankfully, we currently have schedules where this is a reality the majority of the week. I can’t stress how great it is for us to just debrief, catch-up on the day’s events, and share a meal together. It’s therapy.
- Take breaks from your kids. You deserve it. Before our son was born, it worked out well for us to ship our daughter to her grandma’s for one night every week. Sometimes we used that free night to get caught up on school work, projects, or other commitments. But sometimes it acted as an informal date night for Jordan and I. Sometimes it was just a night off. This brief pause from parenthood introduced such a needed breath of fresh air into our weekly schedule. We don’t have a set day for this now that our schedules have evolved, but we still ship the kids off to grandma’s about as much as they let us.
Speaking of parenthood…that’s what we’ll be covering next!
Miss a previous post?
A Mixtape Guide To Growing Up: