Why I Married a Jerk

Later this month marks 12 years since Brent and I walked down the aisle. Normally this time each year, I write a mushy-gushy post on how amazing he is, and I wish him a happy anniversary with butterflies and unicorns and lots of happy confetti. Usually.

This year, I’m giving up the unicorns. This year, as we commemorate the years we’ve survived married life together, I’m coming at it from a different approach. This year, I’m going to tell you why I married a jerk.

WHY I MARRIED A

While on our honeymoon, I was recovering from salmonella and strep throat. (Hot mama, right here…) Before we embarked on a long hike around Mount Rushmore, he all but begged me to swallow a couple Immodium before our trek. What he didn’t know was I felt totally fine for the first time in days, and in spite of my confidence, he wasn’t convinced. I left it in the car. Halfway through our trek, it hit. I was in a lot of pain, rocking on a bench along the trail, holding my gut, moaning audibly, and praying silently.

My husband of 48 hours got right up in my face and said, “If you [poop] your pants, I am NOT taking you back to the hotel to change.”  His demeanor in my moment of vulnerability had me in tears. He was upset. Not the kind of upset like, “Oh no, I really messed up as her husband.” Brent was the kind of upset where he knew, if I had just listened to him, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess. Forget the fact I had salmonella and strep throat. He had tried to help me out, but neither of us had any way of knowing. It was somehow my fault I couldn’t control when salmonella reared its ugly head. It was a long, painful walk the last half of that trail, but we made it without incident (or accident).

Total jerk.

While we’re sharing the nitty gritty, let me tell you about one of the first big fights I remember as a newly married couple. When I say big, I mean B I G. There were swearwords yelled. There were doors slammed. There was much shouting and carrying on. B I G.

I was sitting at the computer copying content from one program, pasting to another. Brent came into the room, saw what I was doing, and told me he knew a way to do it better. I didn’t care. I was in the middle of it, what I was doing was working, and I did. not. care. He kept insisting I let him show me. I insisted he find something else to do. He came over……you’re not going to believe this. He marched to where I was sitting and grabbed the mouse RIGHT OUT OF MY HAND and began to do it his way. I shot him a look reserved for murderous criminals. I said some bad words. So did he. I yelled. So did he. I slammed the door on my way out. He was upset. Not the “Oh crap I really messed up as her husband” kind of upset. He was upset in the – you guessed it – way he thought I was over-reacting, I was unwilling to learn, and how dare I refuse his efforts to “help“!

Jerk.

These two events happened within the first couple of months of our marriage. I couldn’t believe I had married such a jerk. I mean, he, as my husband, was supposed to be loving, giving, considerate, kind, romantic, princely….and all these realistic expectations I had of my husband weren’t coming to fruition.

Jer…..wait a minute.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It may be Newton’s third law of motion, but it’s also marriage’s third law of unfair fights. The first and second laws would have something to do with disgruntled male and female members of the marital union.

It’s been 12 years, people. If Brent came and ripped a mouse out of my hands today, I’d simply de-pants him and call it even. I’d also be completely surprised, because we have both grown – a LOT – in our relationship with one another. If he’s a jerk, I don’t even want to know the title I wear.

None of us know what we’re doing when we get married. It takes a long time to figure it out. Brent and I have by no means arrived. We’re still growing, still learning, still forgiving one another when we act like jerks.

The fact of the matter is: Brent is a gem. Yes he does silly things that make no sense to me. Yes he makes me angry. Yes we still have bouts of intense fellowship, though not anything like in the early days. And for every action he makes that’s a detriment to relational bliss, I provide the equal and opposite reaction that takes us further down that wayward trail. He’s not the only one who falls short in this relationship, and he certainly isn’t the only one who makes mistakes. I’m at fault a good 60% of the time (on a good day).

He doesn’t make me mad on purpose. He doesn’t seek ways to anger or hurt me. He doesn’t intentionally ruffle my feathers. He honestly believes in his heart he loads the dishwasher the correct way. But instead of tearing him down, or insulting his intentions, or questioning his motives, I will commend the things he does well. I will shout his praises at every opportunity. I will brag about him to whomever will listen. I will shine a light on his great qualities and give him the credit due him. I will honor him as the worthy and beautiful child of God he is. I will pray for him, no matter what I’m feeling, and I will beg God to heap blessing upon this man I’ve vowed to spend the rest of my life with.

Because if I don’t? If I don’t respect him, encourage him, or build him up, I’m not giving anything in this marriage and I’m only taking. And if I’m only taking, that makes me a jerk. And if I’m a jerk….well….Brent might have a lot of blogging to do.

It turns out I didn’t marry a jerk. I married a kid who had a lot of growing up to do. He married a gal who still doesn’t listen to him some of the time. Over the many years we’ve been together and the many struggles we’ve overcome, he’s grown into the husband I always knew I wanted. No, I didn’t marry a jerk. I married a prince-in-progress.

In the meantime, insert butterflies and happy confetti here. Happy anniversary, babe. I’m sorry I called you a jerk once… xo

Broken Together: My Husband Does Not Complete Me

Twelve years we’ve been married. Twelve years. Well, not yet, but in another couple of months. I was going to save this post for our anniversary, but I’m kind of an impatient person.

A lot of people lost bets after we made it past the five year mark. We struggled mightily through year six. And seven. (and year one, and two, and…) And here we are, year 12. We’ve been together (more or less) for the last 14 years. That’s a long time when you’re as young and care-free as I am. And I’m pretty young. Like…pretty young. In my heart.

I’m madly in love with my husband. He makes me laugh. He pretty much cracks me up. A lot. He holds me when I’m feeling down. He hugs me for no reason. He compliments my cooking. And my outfits. He gives me butterflies in my stomach. Either because he makes me giddy, or irate. We shuffle between those two reasons from time to time. He’s super handsome, has a million dollar smile, and big strong arms. He was the only person I wanted by my side, every minute, after we lost Harlynn. I could not have survived life after losing her without him. My husband, in my eyes, is kind of a big deal.

I love my husband more than I thought I could love any man. Ever.

But he does not complete me.

Wonderful as he is, my husband has flaws. He has shortcomings. He disappoints me from time to time. We argue. We disagree. We have bouts of intense fellowship. He screws up. He makes mistakes. He’s even wrong once in a while.

If I, as a greatly flawed individual trust that another greatly flawed individual will complete me, my hopes in that “you complete me” junk will leave me nothing more than a sour taste of brutal disappointment.

Brent is a smart guy. Really smart. Sometimes he’s so smart it makes me angry. Like when we’re arguing about something and he’s so busy making so much sense with his smartness, he doesn’t understand that I just need a hug and some M&Ms.; He’s smart enough to know, though, that he cannot complete me. Nor does he want to even try. Can you imagine the burden of that responsibility? The overwhelming pressure and expectation of first, finding all my faults and flaws and then working overtime to compensate for those – all for me? Forget about fixing yourself or having any issues – you have to complete ME. My needs. My shortcomings. You have to make up the difference in whatever I lack.

No way. No. Way.

 
Relationships aren’t easy. They aren’t even romantic. There are sometimes, romantic things that happen within a relationship, but the relationship itself is not romantic. It’s messy. And confusing. And a lot of work to maintain. You can take a walk in the park, which might be romantic, but you can’t expect your relationship to function as if it, as its own entity, were a walk in the park. Come back down to earth here for a minute.

Brent and I have been together for a long time. I know he isn’t perfect (no matter how close he may come at times.) We all know I’m not perfect. Both Brent and I know, appreciate, and understand that neither of us could complete the other. Please tell me you understand the same regarding your relationship?

There is only One perfect being – that being Jesus Christ – who could complete us. Yet we struggle so often when others disappoint us. When others let us down. Because they should love us enough to know better. They should have known how their words or actions would affect us. They’re supposed to be our other (or better) half. Without this person, I am only half the person I would have been before I realized I needed another half a person to spend my time with.

Wait, what?

You’ve heard it said before that marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100. If two people each buy half a sandwich and mush them together, they don’t have a whole sandwich. They still have two halves of sandwiches. If you’re an incomplete person, mushing yourself together with another person isn’t going to make a whole person. It’s going to make your life complicated and insane and you’re gonna have to understand a thing or two about communication, fighting fair, and what it means to commit. You can’t just go mushing around with people expecting to be made whole. Stop the mushing.

There is going to be so much hurt, heartache, and suffering that you’ll endure in life. Don’t expect another person to complete you – in those times especially – but choose wisely who you’ll allow to carry your heart for you in those moments when you can’t. Choose who you’ll want by your side when the only thing you see is pain. Choose who you’ll allow to see you in your most vulnerable moments, and who will help you – not live for you, but help you – come out the other side of that tunnel. And if you have your person, stop expecting them to do the completing for you. Meet them in the middle. As much as you need support and understanding, they need twice as much. Well, Brent needs twice as much, because he’s stuck with me.

I love my husband. I would fight, die, and haunt someone for him. He has some weird different habits, and he doesn’t do everything the way I do. He raps in his sleep. (Okay, it was one time, but it was hilarious.) He knows too much about things other than how to not shrink my brand new shirts. But I love him. To the moon and back. To the ends of the earth. I would eat a mushroom for him. *shudder* But he does not complete me.

This song – this awesome, captivating, amazing song – makes me cry. Of course, a lot of things make me cry. But listen to this song. And keep a tissue nearby just in case.

Brent and I are both broken people. That’s why we have Jesus. And because we have Jesus, we’re able to hold on tighter to each other. Loving Jesus together completes our marriage. Our family. Not because of anything we do on our own. But because of everything we’re able to do through Him.