What does saying “I do” do? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Currently, I’m reading a book by Maggie Gallagher and Linda Waite called “The Case for Marriage.” It was written before much of the same-sex debate today and is basically outlining why it is that marriage is beneficial for people. This is in contrast to the case of cohabitating couples, singles, divorced, and widowed.
I find it quite revealing and as I had been debating the topic often lately, I figured I would write from a personal perspective. Does marriage make a difference to a person?
I have said before that my wife and I both have Asperger’s. As a result, social relationships can be difficult for us, including marriage, and we have sought the advice of many counselors. This was before and after marriage. For myself, before I was married, I was constantly seeking advice from a good friend who has been married for a long time and whose marriage I wished to emulate. He and others gave me constant pearls of wisdom and our own counselor who did our counseling said he had so rarely seen a couple he thought was a match made in Heaven.
So where to begin?
An interesting place is diet. Aspies have unusual diets, something I don’t think I’ve gone into here. The only vegetable I eat for instance is raw cauliflower. My old roommate could testify that I would buy Tombstone pizzas or the equivalent and fix some every night. One pizza could last me four nights. I kept myself stockpiled. My diet was extremely limited to a small amount. I did not really have any fruits in my diet. In fact, I was and am scared of new foods. (Yes. I know it’s totally ridiculous. Being logical does not mean you are logical in all you believe. We all have places were emotion can tend to overwhelm us.)
My wife has problems with diet as well and I realized that if she is going to change and I am to encourage her to, then I must be the man and lead by example. As it stands, I am now at the point where usually I am having some kind of seafood most every night. Instead of just going to pizzerias for restaurants, we can also go to Mexican restaurants as I can eat quesadillas now which leaves my friends and family who have known me the longest wondering “What on Earth is going on?”
With leading, I’ll also tell you that my wife has led me some in a good way. We went on our honeymoon to Ocean Isle Beach. I have been terrified of water all my life. I still am. I do not know how to swim a lick. When I am in a pool, I am on the shallow end and near the edge. (I did start trying to learn to walk across a pool before the wedding to overcome my fear for my wife.) When we were on our honeymoon, my wife did take me into the pool and we were in the five foot section. I could always touch the floor, but I won’t deny I was scared still. There was a part of me saying “She’s trying to kill me.” Still, I trusted her. When it came to the ocean, she managed to get me out into waist high water. Right now we have a deal going that she’ll join me in the corn maze even though she’s claustrophobic as long as I join her on a ferris wheel though I’m scared of heights. (There are some rides she knows I should not try due to my back as I have scoliosis.)
Confidence is a great plus now. I used to be very skeptical about my own ability in apologetics. We all know that when we get compliments we can be tempted to think “They’re just saying that” or something of that sort. I found shortly after I got married that I was able to do much more in apologetics. It wasn’t because at the time I was studying more. In thinking about it, I believe I have come to the answer. In the past, I got my validation from my apologetics largely and my identity hung on it. It’s still a major part of me of course, but now my validation comes from my wife. She is a constant reminder of who I am. Because of her, I am more secure in myself and able to perform better. I notice it more when I debate now. I am able to handle criticisms much better and feel more in charge in debates.
Speaking of study, I am spending more time with that. There’s still time for gaming some still, but by and large, I am making it a point to read at least 100 pages a day now. Sometimes that can be difficult. Bluntly put, some books are boring. Still, I want to make sure to do the best that I can. (I also seem to have the problem of walking to the library and saying “I won’t order any more books. I have books at home to read.” I’m not doing a good job of following through with this.)
Marriage has taught me much about sacrifices. We have so much income for the two of us. What am I to do with what I have? I will often avoid getting something for myself because I know I want to get things for my wife. If I go without, I figure that’s fine. I have enough other stuff in my life that I can be satisfied and learn to find joy in them even more. Sacrifices are worthwhile if I know they bring joy and benefit to the Mrs.
Also, I have learned much more about holiness. The command to love as Christ loved the church is one that is serious and terrifying both. It requires that I stop and compare the way I treat Christ to what happens in my life. After all, none of us marry perfect people and none of us marrying are perfect people. I have told people that even if Jesus was married, and I don’t think He was, he would not have had a perfect marriage because he would have been married to an imperfect woman.
So if I get upset by something my Mrs. does, I can just say “How am I to Christ?” It is a good time that I can really examine myself and when I do, I often find much in me that I do not like. There will always be problems with me that I need to work out, but I am in the process of working them out.
Trust is built up as well in marriage. I am more confident in myself overall. A lot of this can be due to marriage being the place God designed for sexual intimacy. Those who know me know that I am hardly a fine specimen of fitness and strength. However, my Mrs. accepts me so what do I care what the rest of the world thinks? I am not out to please anyone else physically. I am only out to please her and her constant affirmation is a great benefit.
Sharing a bed with someone sexually is enjoyable of course, but there are other ways to share a bed that are significant. There is something special about praying with my wife every night before we go to bed. There is something special about knowing someone will be there when I wake up in the morning and any touch in the evening or early morning is a great way to end or start a day. If I can feel her hand, then I can relax a lot easier. (I am convinced one of my love languages is physical touch.)
Last night even, I had an awful night with one of the worst cases of sinus congestion I’ve had where I could not breathe at all lying down and was repeatedly getting up going to our linen closet finding any cure that I could. My wife was patient all the while. If anything, her only complaint she really had with me about the whole thing was that I didn’t wake her up to let her know everything that I needed.
Marriage is a source of great benefit and as a man, I think it especially with learning how to live with a woman. It is quite mind-boggling for us to go to the bathroom and think “What are all these things for?” I have to think outside my natural paradigm. When my Princess has a problem, my male side wants to logically tell the solution to it when she just wants to be heard and the best thing to do could be to not say anything but simply give an embrace. These are all things that are being learned, but the differences bring us closer together.
When it comes to intellectual stuff, my wife is more the emotional and artistic type. This makes it interesting for me when I explain a theological concept. I know to watch my terminology but many times, I also notice that my wife is picking up on the strange way I understand language at times in that I can interpret what people say very literally to make a humorous point about it.” I see this happening more and more. On the other hand, I’m developing a taste for artistic beauty, learning what it means to love, and becoming more emotional. These differences balance out again.
In closing, marriage is indeed great and a benefit. I hope hearing how mine has benefited me helps you to see how yours could be a benefit and if you have some thoughts on how it is, please share!