By Sarah Logan, Contributing WriterWhen we first got married there was so much to discuss. To plan. To dream. To imagine. To hope for. To anticipate. To fear.
Yes. I think we knew that marriage had fallen on hard times. Statistics were gloomy. Even Christian marriages seemed to be struggling. While we were confident in marrying each other, I think we also thought marriage was going to be this major, difficult, monumental task. We weren’t far off. It was major. It was difficult. It was monumental. And we each had the intense personalities to prove it.
We were going to do this marriage thing and do it right. We were going to be committed. We were going to dedicate our lives to the sanctity of holy matrimony. And we did.
We were going to read our Bibles – alone and together – every day. Not only that, we were going to pray until there was nothing left to pray. We were going to memorize Scripture. I was going to dive into healthy cuisine and extreme frugality. Sam was going to continue engineering all of life the way he is gifted to do. We were all set.
We were extremely intense.
Intensity can become exhausting. Most/many of our conversations revolved around goals – as a couple, spiritually and later, as parents. We would discuss how to improve life. How to simplify. How to become both more fully dedicated to God, each other and our family and to yet not cocoon ourselves off from the world.
Somewhere a few years down the road I suddenly woke up one day and realized I was missing something. I was missing the joy of marriage.
How could marriage not be a joy? (Where do I begin…?!)
Our intensity was spoiling our ability to enjoy and appreciate each other – just being. I finally told Sam one day in frustration, “I want to go a week or two without discussing a goal of any sort. I want to enjoy being with you. I want to let go of some of our intensity. We need to laugh a little.” Maybe at the time he didn’t appreciate my frustration (intensity!) but I think he got it.
If you’re reading this, there’s just a slight chance that you may be of the intense breed of humans. You’re in good company. There is also a slight chance that your spouse isn’t of the same breed. But even if you are (as in our case) there is a need to chill once in a while. Often fear is what fuels intensity. In our case it was a fear that we would waste time, or our resources. We feared failure in our roles as spouses and parents. Some of that is good fear. We should have enough healthy fear to keep us moving in the right direction. But fear of the negative isn’t exactly a great motivator. Wouldn’t the joy of reaching the summit of some goal be a better motivator?
I still think we’re a little too intense. Sometimes we just need to relinquish our intensity to God and ask Him for seasons of refreshing – where we simply are…together.
It is okay to ask God for laughter. I pray for laughter in our home. Our intensity spills over to our kids. We are all a bit serious-minded. I want my life to be filled with joy that spills over – not fretfulness!
One time I told Sam I wanted to go on a ‘fun’ date. We didn’t go out much – babysitting money was tight and life didn’t lend itself to many outings. But one time I said, “I just want to go ice-skating!” So we did!
When we were first married we played tennis together. We’re both not great at it. But it was fun!
We still take walks and now have added bike rides to our list of possible un-intense things to do.
Sounds crazy that we even have to have a list like this! But for intense people, a list may be the catalyst to learning how to just BE. After all we are human beings, not human doings.
If God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, then it follows that in marriage He is also glorified when we are satisfied in the gift of marriage. Sometimes we forget that marriage is a gift. That it was given for our enjoyment. Yes, there is a lot of growth, change, work and diligence required. But we chose to marry each other because the prospect of being together appealed to us! Let’s not forget the joy that marriage was meant to be.