Six years ago I married a funny girl from Pakistan. I count it as one of my better decisions.
I try not to brag about the things that I’m good at. Bragging does not tend toward good relationships. But if I am going to brag about one thing, it will be about the quality of my marriage. With no word of a lie, I have not encountered a marriage as fun, happy, peaceful and exciting as mine. And I don’t say that sentimentally. I mean it. We are good at marriage. And, as with anything you can excel at, we have employed tactics that have made our marriage the best we’ve ever seen. Here they are:
A center on Jesus-philosophy. Not just Jesus ethic. Not just Jesus spirituality. Not just Jesus community. Jesus everything. A Jesus philosophy of life. His ethic shows us how to be kind. His spirituality enables us to pull it off. His community keeps our relationship great. The sermon on the mount informs practically all our marriage-related choices. And it works.
Being undignified. Dignified people have crappy marriages. I’m sorry, but it’s true. A person with dignity won’t dance in the rain with his wife. A person with dignity won’t play in the mud with his kids. A person with dignity can’t apologize quickly. A person with dignity can’t be a servant. And if you can’t do those things, you can’t have fun with your marriage. Thankfully, neither Ruth not I have any dignity that I can see.
Owning each other’s dreams. I think I’ve talked about this before. It’s one of the most important, and most neglected, aspects of marriage. Ruth is passionate about some things. I’m passionate about other things. We don’t expect each other to have that same passion or understanding. But we are both willing to take ownership of the other’s dreams. We are willing to work and sweat for each other’s dreams. And that kills conflict dead.
Dancing. As a family we often crank the music up and dance till we collapse. And we discovered that you cannot really be upset at a person trying hard to moonwalk. You just can’t.
Laughing at problems. In the words of the Joker, “Why so serious?” Too much seriousness will cripple a marriage. Most spouses take themselves far too seriously. If you cannot laugh or be laughed at, you will find marriage hard. When you laugh at your problems, they tend to lose their power. Seriously, they do. Try it!
A refusal to be malicious. We have noticed roots of malice in many marriages. And, as far as we can tell, a marriage with malice is a failed marriage. If you let that demon into your house, it will eat your soul. Kill it. Or it will kill you.
Empathy. There are always struggles that Ruth will have that I cannot understand, just because I’m a guy, or because I’m dumb. And that’s fine. It becomes unfine when I refuse to empathize with the things I don’t get. Like when she jumps on the couch when she sees a mouse. I don’t get that. But I empathize with it. I imagine what she must feel like if she jumps up on the couch like that. And, even though I couldn’t care less about a mouse in the house, since it affects her, I take it on myself. And she does the same for the things about me that she can’t quite understand.
Discontent. That’s right, discontent. If you are content your marriage will suffer for it. Content means enough. Content means settling. And I don’t like to settle. My marriage is the best one I’ve ever seen. But I’m not content with it just yet. I’m not content with the level of love I’ve attained. I’m not content with the massive level of peace and joy Ruth and I share. I want more. And I mean to get more. And so I’ll never settle. I’ll never sit back and say “Ah, now I have what I needed.” More, baby, yeah!
Openness. Cliche, I know, but true. I can tell Ruth anything. She tells me anything. There is no judging in my house. There is never a time when Ruth thinks less of me for a thing I’ve done or an opinion I hold. And so I am safe in my house, as is Ruth.
I feel like I could go on forever. So many wonderful tactics have come together to make my marriage the best I’ve ever seen. Marriage, I think, is whatever you make it to be. A lot of people have called it hell. Mine is like a little bit of heaven, and every year is the best one. So no matter when you see me, you can know that you are seeing me during the best year of my life.