Q18: Mawwiage

Question: What's it like being married?

"Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam... And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah...So tweasuwe youw wove..."
- Clergymen The Princess Bride
(Clip here)

When I put together this whole question game thing, I got two really weird questions. I thought about them and decided to replace them with my own two questions.  This is the first.

I don't really think I can talk about mawwi... marriage in general.  Instead I will talk about my marriage. As I do say, I want to begin by saying this.  I am going to be honest here; this isn't a puff piece.  So, when I tell you multiple times that being married to Kristina is amazing, I am not doing that (only) because she will read this; I am also doing it because it is true!

The Story (shorter version)

I met Kristina during the summer after my first year of university, on "The Toronto Project" with Campus for Christ.  By the end of the summer we were very good friends, but neither of us knew how to handle the upcoming distance, so we didn't 'start dating' but waited.  

I was, and am, a bit naive when it comes to relationships, and made some silly assumptions, but we official started dating in mid-Dec. 2001.  We had a long distance relationship (Edmonton/Calgary to Vancouver) for the next 2.5 years.  In many ways, this was a very good thing.  It was definitely hard, and I have never ridden the bus so many times in my life, but it forced us to do a few very important things.  It forced us to get better at communicating, to intentionally include one another in our lives (because we weren't with each other for day to day stuff, mere presence didn't suffice), to build a relationship which was based on our faith, our values, the aforementioned communication, and our commitment to each other.  

I asked Kristina to marry me the during the fall of 2001.  That's another story, but obviously she said yes (as did her parents).  I did more stupid things here, mainly not introducing her to my father before getting engaged.  That is definitely something I regret, but my parents are both very gracious people and modeled that in this instance. 

After another year and a half, being engaged long distance, we were married on May 22nd 2004. So, if your doing the math, the rest of what you read in this post about marriage is coming from someone who has been married 6.5 years; not exactly a marathon yet, but certainly the start of a lifelong adventure. 

We did pre-marital counseling and though we had lots of sessions, the one thing that sticks out the most to me was the advice to spend at least as much time preparing for our married life as we did for our wedding day.  So we did; we read books together, talked, prayed, planned, and asked each other all kinds of questions about our future together.   

We got married, spent two weeks in Nuevo Vallarta, four weeks travelling around Canada visiting family, and then we were off to S.Korea.  Before we were married I knew that Kristina was incredible.  The whole going to teach in S.Korea thing just amplified that for me.  Not only did she do extremely well in the transition/culture shock/new job (I relied on her SO MUCH in teaching), but listen to this part of the story.  

We worked with a recruiter who, though he seemed to be trying his hardest, couldn't find a job that met our requirements (which were not ridiculous or super picky).  Instead he got us into a three week camp job and told us that once we were in Korea we could probably find another job.  Meanwhile, Kristina took this as her cue to start looking.  She found us a job in less than  week, in the middle of packing up all our stuff and flying around the world.  We actually arrived at the camp (and that whole trip is another ridiculous story; 16 hours became 28... bad news) and the very next day Kristina was confirming our job via the camp computers.  

A typical travelling picture.  Me: Half-dead.  Kristina... (of course, she had her bad days too!)
Right, I said shorter version. I could go on for a while.  We spent a year in Korea, which was great.  It was our first year of marriage, and though difficult, it also turned out to be very good.  Just like having a long distance relationship, this experience forced us to do some things we probably would not have otherwise done.  We were, in terms of other human people, the only ones we had.  No family, no friends (initially), no support.  I don't know that I would recommend that for everyone, but it pushed us together in wonderful ways.  On top of that, going through culture shock, being soooo tired like that, and dealing with very unusual and unexpected situations all allowed us to see each other 'under duress.'  Even more importantly, because of how teaching English in S.Korea works in terms of schedules and free-time, we saw each other fully in all of our banal day-to-dayness.  I say that is even more important because that is us the majority of the time.

We went back to Korea a second time, two years later, and conflating those two trips together, here are some pictures. 

Kristina and I had to sleep on the floor because we went on a 'spontaneous' holiday...

Had fun birthdays together:

Got to ride the bullet train:

Went on tropical vacations together: 
And much more....
The time in-between those two trips, and the year afterwards, was me studying at Regent while Kristina taught English in order to support me through school.  Did I mention she is amazing?

Anyway, after we came back from the second trip Kristina was pregnant.  That started a whole new section of our lives, with one, and then two, wonderful children (the subject of another post).  After I graduated, I become a youth and young adults pastor at BAC, we moved to Surrey, and that brings us pretty much up to today; a year into the job, almost a year in our new home, and still going strong. 

And she still looks better than I do in all the pictures too!

Answering the Question

So, you read through that whole story, and you still don't have an answer to the question I posed at the beginning?  Yeah, marriage is like that.  The story is what it's like to be married, except even more so because I left out about 3000 pages of details (but if you have questions, ask away).  But, in the interest of good blogging, let me try to offer a few reflections. 

Marriage is an opportunity.  It is an opportunity to put someone else first and begin to understand both how painful and rewarding that can be.  It is an opportunity to love some one so much that you become ridiculously vulnerable and, if you stick with it, to understand that the pains of love are better than any pleasure (other than those of love, of course!).  And I am not talking about 'romantic love', though that has it's place in marriage.  I am talking about 1 Corinthians 13 love.  

Marriage is a blessing.  It is a safe harbor, being with a person who has committed to be with you for life, who forgives you (even through tears and heartache), and therefore allows you to not only 'be yourself' but to grow into being better than yourself (cause let's face it, most of us could use a lot of improvement).  It is knowing someone has your back.  But it is also a blessing because being this close to someone reveals just how unreliable we all are, and thus it pushes you towards God together.  

Marriage is a sacrament.  It is a place for holiness to be lived out; not dead, rules and lists, holiness but holiness and righteousness from God.  Married life is full of opportunities to follow Christ (as is single life).  It is a means for the presence of God to grow stronger in us.  My favorite image of marriage is two people both headed towards the cross, and the closer they get towards it the closer they get to each other.  

Marriage is hard.  It requires you to shift your habits, patterns you have developed for at least two decades, if not more.  It requires you to make sacrifices.  

Marriage is good.  It does not solve all of your problems; that wouldn't really be good.  But it does give you whole new exciting problems to work through a learn from.  It doesn't fulfill all of your dreams; that wouldn't be good.  But it does makes you consider a whole new set of dreams that include someone else and focus on Jesus.  It won't last a lifetime if it is based on you and your spouse.  But it will if it is based on God.  

I couldn't say any of this if it wasn't for my wife though.  On our wedding day we gave speeches to each other, and on that day I told Kristina, and everyone else present, that more than anything else Kristina was teaching me what real love is.  What it means to love someone so much it hurts, to give up things dear to your own heart for what seems like so little in return, and to keep on hoping, trusting, and being faithful.  She has continued to teach me that, but to that I would add all of the above and much more.  

Thank you so much Kristina for being such an example, for loving me so much, for teaching me, being patient with me, understanding me, and for being the best wife and mother in the whole world!

What I would do to make you smile :) 
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
- Proverbs 31:10-12
I'll tell you who can find one.  God! And He gave her to me!


Anonymous said...

I don't usually read your blog, because of all the hokey god stuff...but this was def. worth the read!
I love your insight into marriage and the obvious adoration you have for your amazing wife. *two kids one year apart THAT itself is amazing!*
Face to face I would converse with you more deeply on this aspect of life.
In this venue, I'll just say, thanks for sharing. You are a really cool guy, cousin.

Andrew said...

Thanks :)

I appreciate the encouragement. Hopefully some day we will get the chance to have that conversation.

kering said...

:) Really nice read! Thanks for your story :)