22 October 2010

Taking a break during the first year of being married

One of the things that I'm really looking forward to about being married is having time with Matthijs: time that is not taken over by planning a wedding or by organizing the next time we'll see each other. And there will no longer be 1.5 hours travel time before (and after) seeing each other! That means there'll be time to have lots of conversations and think together and laugh together and do nothing together. Yay!
A number of people have told me to take the time to enjoy that first year of being married and not to do too much other stuff. I know that's wise advise, but I still chafe a bit when I hear it. Perhaps it's simply because I don't like being told what to do or feeling like people assume that because I've never being married, I have absolutely no idea what it might be like (or what would be good for me). I don't know for sure what it'll be like, but I do have some ideas of what might be good. I am purposely trying not to plan too much for after the wedding, as I want to give us space to make plans together; after we get married, it's even more obvious that it's not just about "my" plans anymore but it's now "our" plans. So I am already kind of following the advice to take it easy - but the advice itself still makes me a bit uncomfortable. It's not like I'm not looking forward to spending lots of time with Matthijs (see first paragraph of this for a reminder); it's just that I'm uncomfortable with the idea of my whole life revolving around Matthijs and my marriage. I (we) do certainly want to invest lots of time in building solid habits and good communication for married life - that's why we're taking a marriage course now - and why we've spent lots of time and energy already on the difficult questions of expectations and desires and communicating well. And it will be nice to slow down and settle somewhat, so that the chaos in my life (brought about, I expect, by many of the recent changes) can decrease somewhat. And I do want to laugh lots and enjoy being married!

But we also want our marriage to be fruitful; in the beginning, some of the fruit we bear will be a solid foundation for our marriage - but even in building that solid foundation, we don't want to lose sight of the vision that our marriage is to be honouring to God, a means for each of us to be more the people God wants us to be, and a blessing to others. And I can see now already a bit of how that might be manifested: Matthijs and I both want the excitement and joy of being married, coupled with our now having a constant theological sparring partner, to bear fruit in my dissertation and academic endeavours (and maybe also some academic endeavours for Matthijs, too :)). And we want our joy of being married to spread to those around us - and who better to share that joy with than those we love: the community and other friends and family?
The Old Testament talks about a newlywed not being allowed to go to war or be obligated in any way (Deut 24:5): "he must be free to stay at home for a full year and bring joy to the woman he has married." If I do some practical exegesis, I assume that the intention was not that the man should do nothing for a year - I can't imagine too many women who'd find joy in their husband hanging around the house doing nothing! There is thus a bit of interpreting here, and my interpreting is that, especially in the first year, the couple chooses first and always for what's best for their marriage and can push other important obligations of serving God and society aside (this building a foundation for a healthy marriage is, after all, the best way to serve God and society). But that doesn't imply doing nothing - in fact, the need to do nothing can then also become an obligation that hinders our marriage. And it does not imply that we'll have to turn away from other joys (and challenges) in our life, like the community, singing, visiting, and playing soccer. Perhaps we need to make limits, but the hope and expectation is that those other things that bring joy and challenges would in turn be a blessing to our marriage.

1 comment:

Katharine said...

You've got good sense, Brenda. It'll be fine and your early marriage will be an incredible season of joy and growth and stretching and adjustment. I appreciate your transparency, and your heart seems to resonate with mine. Thanks for sharing!