Marrying a Stranger.
Tim Keller writes about this in his book, The Meaning of Marriage.
Pretty bluntly he says that a handful of years down the road from your wedding day, you’ll find you’re married to a stranger. Your spouse won’t be the person they were when you first got married. They will have changed, potentially pretty significantly— mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically.
When I glance over at Brett right now, he sure looks the same to me (albeit, his wardrobe is much more put together and professional these days- no complaints), but I see a different person than he was 6 years ago.
In all the best ways, he would be a total stranger to me six years ago. I see someone who has grown more into who he was created to be. I see someone who has taken time to consider how to lean into our human conflict, my selfishness, his selfishness, and even the rich moments of our marriage. I’ve disappointed, failed, and frustrated him on so many occasions (one of my favorite ones was when we got into a very pride-filled argument in the Texas Tech Library and we had to whisper-yell at each other… fire in our eyes and silence in our voices, careful to not interrupt all the other hard-working library people). I’ve seen him lean into every one of those challenging moments. Willing to learn how to best take on each new thing.
I’ve had a million ridiculous and unhelpful unspoken expectations in our marriage that have hurt me and hurt Brett. And in turn, he’s annoyed the crap out of me and sent me into hurt and furious tears time and again.
And yet, when he looks at me now, I think he would agree that I’m a stranger for the better too.
What’s so different?
Six years ago, we were two over-confident prideful know-it-alls who thought we’d be pretty good at being married. We left every pre-marrital counseling session confident we’d crush our first year with no problems.
In actuality we were two humans (fresh off of a very far and very lengthy long distance relationship) who didn’t know how to marriage well at all. We were still trying to figure out how to be adult humans— only, right next to each other— in the same little loft apartment I never figured out how to decorate.
When we got married, it felt like we had to take on these marriage roles that just didn’t fit us—- but it took us awhile to figure that out.
Two months in, I thought I hated being a wife. I was OUTRAGEOUSLY mean because birth control had really messed up my hormones. I had moved states away from my community to be with Brett and I had no job. I felt purposeless, selfish all the time, and mean. And I honestly wasn’t trusting God with much of it. The only bright light in the first few months of our being married was the downtime I had to read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Getting to know the stranger I’m married to now
Six years in, and I love our marriage a lot. Something I was really hoping would be the case after having a really challenging and frustrating first few years of marriage.
We are still selfish humans. But I see us much more of a team now. For each other. Seeking to sharpen each other. Desiring to make continually see how God is the hero of our marriage— He is the inventor of our marriage covenant and the very Father we need to keep us together.
A handful of things I’m loving right now: We are far more patient with one another and ourselves. We don’t feel like we have to fit into specific roles that are often implied in Texas/Southern culture. We are both excited to be working towards our academic and business goals. Together. He does the laundry (PTL) and keeps up with our insurance and car. I cook (most of) the food (not because I enjoy it but because I value eating healthy and am willing to take the time to make healthy recipes) and tidy the house. We both choose joy and clean the bathroom less often than we should.
Resources that have helped me grow as a human (that have VERY positively influenced my wife-dom):
Going through the Navigator’s Core Lies curriculum this spring
Reading about and diving more into the Enneagram this summer has made a huge difference in who I am and what I bring to the table as Stacie Stine. The reason my marriage with Brett was so broken in the past, is because I was so broken (still am!). Most of it wasn’t Brett. It was me. I was (and always will be) grappling with my own insecurities, fears, and failures. My anger or frustration with Brett would really come down hard when I was ACTUALLY angry and frustrated with myself. If I viewed myself as a failure in anything the past few years, I would believe I was a failure in general— a failure as a wife and friend to Brett. As a result of that belief, I would also begin to think Brett thought so too—- “She does suck. She isn’t the wife I signed up for. She is a mean monster all the time. I give a lot to this marriage and she takes it all.” Those are some hurtful thoughts.
Reading the Meaning of Marriage changed SO much of how I viewed marriage. Wish I would have read this in high school, because I think it would have changed SIGNIFICANTLY how I viewed dating.
Meeting with God on a daily basis because He loves me, reminds me of who I am as His beloved, and helps me love Brett’s shenanigans.
My dress is from Altar’d State!