“L” is for the way you look at me…. you know the song! L-O-V-E, is what today is all about.
Love balloon: Target | Lipstick: MAC in Pink Nouveau | Purse: Little Unicorn | Earrings: Kendra Scott | Shoes: Vince Camuto (old, linked similar) | Bracelets: David Yurman here and here | Ring: David Yurman | Dress: Chiara Boni La Petite Robe (old, linked similar)
I received an email forwarded by my mom last fall. She is still subscribed to her previous church’s mail list, and a message came through about marriage from pastor Jim Jackson. It was the right time to be reading this, as Richard and I were just married. The note has been filed away in my email because I knew I wanted to address it somehow in a blog or journal post. It spoke so much to me, so I thought I would share his words.
According to Jim Jackson, people get married when three things come together:
“You have found a right person.”
Between romantic movies, books, and advertising, we’re seeing from every angle that we’re supposed to find THE one. But as Jim Jackson pointed out, “a right person” just doesn’t sound quite as romantic. But he does bring up a good point. There are many people out there who might be suitable enough and make a great partner. Sometimes we need to take a step back and forget our pre-conceived notions about what “falling in love” is supposed to be, and focus on the here and now.
People always ask me, “how did you know when Richard was the one?” The truth is, I’m not really sure. There just comes a moment when you know you can depend on someone so steadily. Once you pass the threshold and let that person see all of you, then I guess that’s when you know. There may not be just one person for us as well. I have friends that go through long relationships and break up, and then have gone on to find their life partner. I’ve seen someone go through the love of a lifetime, only to lose them to a tragic cancer that took her partner too soon (way too soon). But she has begun to heal and has now found someone in a similar situation, and because of their pain, they are brought closer together. We may not all just have one person. If you do have one person you spend your life with, you are so very blessed. But God may have different plans for us sometimes, and we need to be still and listen and know when we have our right person.
“It is a right time. Yes, there are many right times. Sometimes we get a right person at a wrong time. Sometimes we get a wrong person at a right time. But eventually, most of us find a right person, at a right time.”
This was an interesting point for me, as timing was certainly a variable in our relationship. Richard was definitely my right person, but it took us a while to get to the right time. We first met halfway through our senior year of high school. That’s not the most ideal time to meet the potential love of your life. We were about to go through so many life changes and mature individually and together. Luckily, we had already made our decisions on university and they happened to only be 45 minutes apart from each other. I always wonder what would have happened if one of us had gone out of state, as that would have complicated things. We did have our rough patches and did spend some time apart. I used to wonder if we had met each other later in life if we would have been more ready to settle down earlier. But I love the way things worked out and the journey we went on. I believe it really prepared us for our future.
Marriage requires the right commitments.
Richard knew very well the commitments of marriage, which is why we waited so long to tie the knot. People looked at us like we were crazy, waiting so long, wondering why the delay. Richard is the kind of person who wants to provide. He always said, “me on my own is one thing. I can take risks with work and move around more, but once I’m married, I want to take care of you.” Aside from financial reasons, we knew we wanted to be in a position where we could both dedicate ourselves fully to one another.
Up until our engagement, Richard and I were still living in separate cities. After graduation, I started working in Texas, but Richard moved around from Australia and eventually on to Napa Valley to pursue his culinary degree. He wanted to do all of that so when the time came he could do what was best for us as a couple. We’ve both made sacrifices and will continue to have to make them when the time comes, especially when we want to start a family. We thought long and hard about our wedding and everything that went into the period of our engagement. Richard is quite the spontaneous person in his day-to-day life. His closest friends will tell you he’s not a planner. But when it comes to life-long decisions and career paths, he is the most thoughtful person I’ve ever met.
According to Jim Jackson, there are three major commitments called for in marriage. They are summarized by three statements:
“I accept you as you are.” No one wants to be another person’s project. A marital commitment requires that we accept our spouse as he or she is. Here is the important twist–we often get attracted to a person who is hard-wired differently from us, and we end up being irritated by the flip side of what initially attracted us. Therefore, marriage requires the maturity to recognize that what irritates us in our spouse is a gift we have been given to help us become a more whole person.
This statement is so true. There are certain things you can’t “fix” about a person. If you’re dating someone who is not good for you, and you constantly feel the need to make excuses for them, maybe it’s time to rethink that relationship. Early in my relationship with Richard, we were more immature (hello, 18-year-old selves!) It drove me crazy how messy Richard was (still is) but over time he grew out of that (sort of). Richard is not a great phone communicator. Whenever my friends’ boyfriends called to check in on them on girls night, I felt like maybe Richard didn’t care that much. When I grew up and matured a bit more I saw that Richard showed he cared in so many other ways. I stopped trying to nag him to call me more, as that got me nowhere. I started to appreciate the other things he did instead of focusing on what he didn’t do.
But there are things that I do that drive Richard crazy as well in the beginning as well, like my tendency to over-plan and get worked up when things don’t go according to plan. At 18, Richard couldn’t stand it, but now, it’s one of the reasons why he loves me. I’m the planner and help get him organized, and he’s the chilled, relaxed one who brings me back down to Earth. We got to a point where we accepted one another for our strengths and weaknesses. Only you can make the call if you can accept someone for their flaws and good qualities, as you will be the ones living with them for a lifetime. And as Jim Jackson said, those “flaws” may often end up being the reason you are so right for each other!
“I will do what I can, within the limits of my humanity, to meet your needs.” Obviously, no one can meet all of their spouses’ needs. If we could meet all their needs, they would not need family, vocation, or even God, and we would be hopelessly codependent. A commitment to meet one another’s needs assumes we understand the four or five core needs of our spouse and that we are signed on to address them. It is not a smart thing to ignore our spouse’s core needs because it means our spouse is wounded or vulnerable, neither one of which is advisable.
As I mentioned before, Richard is not the best phone communicator. When we were long distance, it was often difficult for me to know when Richard was stressed as he would never let on that he was. Now that we are married and live together, I am physically present to pick up on all the subtle cues. Richard is not a communicator with words when it comes to stress and pain. Therefore, his need from me is simply to just be there to give him a hug when he comes home. He works so hard and he just wants to see a smiling face, get a kiss from his wife and pet his happy puppy. I can’t always fix his problems as often they are out of control, but I will always do whatever I can to be the support he needs, no matter what. I am his rock, as he is mine. I know that Richard would move mountains to help ease my pain if he could. And just knowing that solidifies the bond in our relationship.
And “You can count on me to live by our agreed upon code of values.” Three of the agreed-upon-values which protect the fabric of marriage are honesty, forgiveness, and fidelity. If either of these values is violated, the chances of marital survival diminish greatly. For example, since forgiveness will be needed in your marriage, I suggest that you memorize now the four phrases you will be needing: “I was wrong”…“I’m sorry”…“Please forgive me”…“I love you.” These phrases will be a helpful antiseptic for the wounds your misdeeds will create.
When Richard and I went off to college, between the sorority mixers and college parties, we were constantly checking in on one another. I was always questioning myself, if I was good enough, pretty enough, etc. But similar to what I said about not really knowing the exact “aha” moment about whether Richard was the one, I don’t really know when I sat back and stopped worrying so much about the fidelity. Richard and I have developed such a trusting bond, I just know that I can count on him. (Note to Richard: you better not make me eat my words), but seriously, I think it was also just a part of maturity, but we kind of got past that point of worrying about what the other was doing.
My high school youth pastor was the one who married us last year, and he did include the three key phrases into his sermon, asking Richard and me to repeat the words before we said I do: “I’m sorry. I forgive you. I love you.” Richard and I bicker about silly things, maybe in the similar way you would with a close friend or sibling, often ending in laughter. We rarely get into huge blowouts, but the one time we did, we used those phrases, we immediately were put back where we were at the alter saying those same words, and then all of the pain just melted away. Being able to just say I’m sorry and ask for forgiveness is sometimes all you can do. We make mistakes, we’re human. Marriage is not always going to be easy and perfect. But communication is so key. And the ability to understand one another. Once you are able to see it from the other’s perspective, you are able to move forward. And a lot of that just has to do with maturity and when you really love and respect someone so much, you’re able to accept them with their flaws and mistakes.
Phew, that was longer than I expected it was going to be!
I’m no marriage expert or counselor, but I just thought I would share what little experience I have, coupled with the wise words of our pastor (since he has a lot more experience.)
This started off as a post I wanted to write about love and marriage. I had asked my friend, Anna, to come over and help take pictures of us. But then I asked Richard to take photos of Anna and me for fun, and it turned into something bigger and sparked an idea to create a message for Valentine’s Day about all the kinds of love.
I am blessed with a loving marriage, but the truth is, I have so many loves of my life!
There’s my mom. My sister. My parents-in-law and brother-in-law. All my aunts, uncles, grandparents, god parents, close friends and family!
My marriage with Richard is only strengthened by our village. It’s important to make time for those Galentine’s activities as well! (Boys can have their own bro night as well).
Let today be the day you tell all the loved ones in your life how much you not only appreciate them but need them. Now, more than, ever, it’s important that we all come together and show empathy, compassion, and understanding, even to those we don’t know very well.
Let today not be the only day you do this. There doesn’t have to be a special occasion to text your friend how much you love them.
We are blessed to know love and feel love. Spread the love. Love always wins.