things to do before you get married (at any age)

Not too long ago, I posted my rebuttal to a poorly-thought out list of things to do before getting engaged at 23.  While I felt that that list was insulting, immature, and advice that no self-respecting woman would ever follow, I do think that there are legitimate things that both men and women should do before they get married, no matter the age.

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Before I misrepresent myself here, I’m not coming at this subject with a “marriage sucks the life out of everyone immediately, run quickly!” kind of attitude. Quite honestly, I couldn’t feel more differently on the subject.  If you are with the partner that is right for you, marriage lets you experience life more fully than before.  That being said, I do think there are things that people of both sexes, but especially women, should do before tying the knot.

I say especially women because I feel like our society treats boys in such a way that fosters independence, while girls are…how shall I say this?…held to a different standard.  We are not expected to do things that boys and men are, so oftentimes we don’t do them – at least not without a little prodding.

I did some of the things on this list before I got married.  I didn’t do others.  Some of them may not apply to your life.  Whichever way you slice it, though, I think that these are some pretty solid pieces of advice that you should really, really consider following before getting married, whether you’re 22 or 45.

1. Live on your own. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean “live by yourself,” but live outside of your parent’s house for at least a year before you get married. And living with your significant other doesn’t count.  Trust me, living somewhere without your mother there to tell you to pick up your room or to cook you dinner every night or to do your laundry every week teaches you responsibility.

It may not seem that way for the first few months, when you realize that you can skip doing laundry for a month and go to Wal-Mart at two in the morning and eat ice cream for dinner and as long as you keep your mess within the bounds of your room, no one else cares about it. But it really does.  It teaches you how to handle freedom, and how to handle things on your own.  That is something that you will want to have ready and developed by the time you get married.

2. Learn how to cook.

Don’t take this as a sexist cultural expectation – I promise, it is just as much for your own good as it is for your future husband’s. When I was learning to cook while my husband and I were dating, I would blow through scads of money trying out fabulous-sounding recipes and trying to master the art of culinary experimenting, which sometimes turned out great and sometimes turned out…not so great. (Ask my husband about the brown sugared beef tacos he refuses to forget). It was a ton of fun while it lasted, but I am so glad that I got that out of the way before we were married. Now I have one less thing to stress about, because I know that 99% of the time whatever I make is going to be delicious.

3. Graduate college and/or get a job that you can see becoming a career. 

I say “and/or” because I am of the firm belief that college is not for everyone.  But if you are in college, or if you want to go to college, at least finish your undergraduate degree before getting married.  If you are not in college and don’t intend to go, find a job that you can see yourself being happy with for a very long time.  Or even both (although with this economy, I understand if you just go with “graduate from college” – I did).  I was on scholarship during my four and a half years at college, and for all but one semester I took a full load of courses and was practically working full-time (30+ hours a week), and at some points even had multiple jobs.  As stressful as that was, I don’t think it could even compare to working, studying, and being married.

Being part of a marriage is a full-time job within itself.  Whereas when you are just dating or engaged, you can say “I’ve had a rough day, I just want to soak in the bath tub and be by myself tonight,” when you’re married you can’t really do that without coming across as a jerk because you live in the same house.  And if you’re married to the right person, you probably won’t want to do that.  You’ll most likely end up putting homework and studying for finals in front of your marriage, or vice versa.  I just can’t imagine it being an easy situation.  I know it’s possible – I have friends and acquaintances who have done it and said that they wouldn’t have it any other way – it just seems like a situation that is best avoided if possible.

As far as the other option – having a job that you are happy with having for a long time – this is very important. Once you get married, you find yourself worrying about things that you probably haven’t had to deal with before – health insurance, car insurance, phone bills, student loan payments, rent, or even a mortgage.  When you have this much responsibility, you can’t just quit a job that you don’t like as easily as you may have before getting married.  If you don’t like your job now, trust me – find something else before your trip down the aisle. It will save you a lot of frustration.

4. Be able to be alone.

I’m not sure how many people this applies to, but it definitely was something that I had difficulty adjusting to after getting married.  While we were dating and then an engaged couple, my husband and I spent every spare second together.  I thought that when we got married, our quality time would increase.

That is not always the case. Whether like our situation it is related to work scheduling, or perhaps one person having a job that requires a lot of travel, or other responsibilities that lay outside of the home, you will find that marriage does not always mean more time together. Be prepared, and able, to spend time by yourself.

This is something I still sort of struggle with to this day, mainly because I am the type of person that needs a lot of human interaction.  But at the beginning of our marriage, it felt devastating.

If you also struggle with needing human interaction or being clingy or lonely, be proactive now, before you get married. Have a hobby that you enjoy doing solo.  Read a book.  Go see a movie by yourself.  Take a walk.  Don’t handle this by moping and complaining about it to your spouse – it doesn’t make the situation better at all.  If anything, it makes it worse.

5. Get out of debt.

Obviously, there are some exceptions to this – long-term debt like student loans or mortgages are not going to vanish in an instant – but if you have a mortgage, a student loan payment, and a car payment, and your future spouse has a car payment, student loan payment, and a pile of credit card debt, you need to consider pushing the date back.  Financial strain is stressful at any time, but when placed on a newly married couple, it can be a recipe for disaster, especially if neither person has followed a strict budget before.  Try to eliminate as much as possible before you say “I do,” even if it means asking your parents to cancel the shrimp buffet and the world-class photographer and seeing if they wouldn’t mind helping you out with your debt instead. Or if you’re paying for the wedding yourself, use that cash to eliminate those balances, or at least get close to it. It will be difficult, but fights about money are toxic within a marriage. It is worth a few extra years or a few less extravagant touches at the wedding.

6. Do something extravagant for yourself that you will not be able to do after marriage.

This seems kind of selfish – because it is, in a way – but after you are married, you no longer have “your” money.  While you have the opportunity, do something that is just for you.  I did not do this, not because I didn’t think of it but honestly because I couldn’t think of anything, but my husband did. He bought a brand-new Harley Davidson about a month after working at the HD dealership.  We were engaged at the time, and I thought it was a bad idea, but I didn’t say anything, and I am so glad that I didn’t now. Looking back on it, he realizes that it was a dumb financial move, but he wouldn’t undo it because it was his last “hurrah,” his last time making a big purchase that he didn’t have to okay with me.

So whether it is vacationing somewhere you have always wanted to go, buying that car you’ve had your eyes on for years, or something as simple as taking your tax return and blowing it on whatever you want (which, now that I think about it, I did do before getting married), do it now, while you do not have the responsibility to someone else. You may look back later and think “that was stupid of me to blow that money,” but if you don’t do it you will definitely regret never taking the plunge on your dream, whatever it is. Don’t put yourself in a position to resent your spouse.

6. Go out of state by yourself.

Again, this does not necessarily mean alone, but it does mean without parental supervision and without the presence of your significant other.  I myself did this only once, but I am proud to say that I know I am capable of getting from Columbiana, Alabama to Knoxville, Tennessee without a GPS and returning in one piece.

7. Understand that sitcoms are not documentaries.

Wives are not supposed to be nagging harpies, men are not helpless idiots, mother-in-laws are not always (but definitely can be) trying, and sex is not something that should be treated like a chore, withheld as punishment, or begged for like a treat. Those are the high points – I can feel an entire post devoted to this point coming up in the future, but that’s about all I have in me today.

I could go on and on forever, I’m sure, with good, solid advice to give the impending brides-to-be in my life.  Basically, my advice to you, if you boil it down to pure substance, is this: think about everything that you want to do. If you are able to do it unhindered and unaltered while married, it can probably wait. If you can’t, and you really want to do it – go for it. You don’t want “if I had onlys” and “I could haves” clouding over your marriage.

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the problem I have with modern engagements

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My husband proposed marriage to me on April 18, 2012.  We had been together just over a year but had been talking marriage for quite some time – I suspect if at least one of us had been out of college with a steady income we would have been a classic whirlwind romance.  That night, he took me out to dinner and wanted me to pick the place (Momma Goldberg’s) and then we went to Chick-fil-A, where I worked at the time, to try a new dessert item that had just made its way onto the menu.  As we went to leave, he asked me if there was anything that I wanted to do before he took me home, and I jokingly replied “get engaged.”  He asked me twice if that was really what I wanted to do, in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant, that it wasn’t really that romantic of a story.  When I said I didn’t care about that sort of thing, he pulled me to the sidewalk, knelt down in front of me, and said “Olivia, will you marry me?”

I could not have been more overjoyed at that moment. I said yes after asking multiple times if it was real or if it was a joke, and then I looked over and saw all of my co-workers through the window, huddled together and holding their breath. I smiled and threw two thumbs up and they all started clapping and cheering. It really couldn’t have been more perfect if he had planned it that way.

Afterwards, I couldn’t wait to tell this story because I was so ecstatic to be entering that stage of my life.  But I was disappointed when many people had less than enthusiastic reactions about both my proposal story and my engagement ring.

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“So he just asked you in a parking lot? That’s…unique.”

“Wow…your ring. It has a blue stone.”

“When you get a wedding band, you should get one with diamonds on it. That way the topaz won’t be as noticeable to others.”

“Hmm.  Well I’m happy if you are. It just doesn’t seem like he planned it out very well.”

Let me tell you, these things are the last thing in the world that a newly engaged woman wants to hear.  She doesn’t want you to fawn over ever detail about her ring and proposal story like it is fodder for a Disney movie, but she does want you to smile and say congratulations.  Not being judgmental about her engagement ring or how her fiance mustered up the courage to do what I’m guessing is a pretty scary thing even if he knew what the outcome would be – that would be a great start.

It kind of reminds me of an episode of my favorite television show, The Office. Michael, the boss, is thinking about proposing to his girlfriend Holly. He is having a meeting with some of his co-workers discussing how to do it after the office administrator, Pam, stops him from writing the words “WILL YOU MARRY ME HOLLY” with gasoline in the parking lot, with the intention of lighting it on fire. The following conversation ensues.

Pam: “I think you can keep the proposal simple. Like when Jim proposed. He just, he got down on one knee and he told me that he loved me and he asked me to marry him, and it was perfect.”

Oscar: “Where was that?”

Jim: “At a gas station.”

Michael: *smirking* “A gas station?”

Jim: “Well, it was when she was working in New York so it was halfway between both of us.”

Michael: *condescendingly* “That must have been a surprise when, at the gas station, you proposed.”

Pam: “No, it was really sweet! It was raining, and…”

Michael: “Oh, yeah, you didn’t say that the weather was bad. That sounds perfect.”

This is what proposals like this or this, while I have no doubt that the men who orchestrated them were sincere and had nothing but the purest of intentions, have done.  They have wreaked havoc on wedding culture in this generation.  Women are beginning to think that it is not enough for a man to kneel down, tell you that he loves you, and ask you to be his wife – something that I imagine is terrifying beyond belief – but while doing so, he must manage to make you the center of attention in a public arena, or a YouTube sensation.  If he doesn’t, he must not care about you enough.

That, dear reader, is tripe.

This judgmental attitude that so many women have towards others who have recently gotten engaged and are trying to plan a wedding – a very hectic affair, by the way, if you’ve never done it before – is entirely too prevalent, and it needs to stop. Just stop. If the woman you are talking to is happy with her ring and happy with her proposal and happy with her wedding plans – just stop.

Stop acting like the validity of an engagement is tied to a ring. Do not condescend women whose fiances had the common sense not to go into debt over a diamond ring.

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Stop acting like just because a proposal was not planned out in great detail or did not involve some kind of active deception that it is not romantic.

Stop overly criticizing brides who send out save-the-dates early, or late, or not at all.

Stop telling brides to order personalized napkins or take lots of engagement photos if they don’t want to.

Stop forgetting that an engagement is only a precursor to a wedding, and that a wedding is only the beginning of marriage, and that for a marriage to be successful a trinket of certain value or a wedding with certain panache is not required.

Stop. Stop. Stop.

We are better than this, women. We are better than bickering schoolgirls. So, for the love of all things holy, show it.

life’s better with company

Recently, a Facebook friend of mine shared this blog post entitled “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23” (warning – the original article contains some language that may make some feel uncomfortable).

Now, before I delve into everything that I find completely wrong with Vanessa’s post, let me be clear – I don’t think marrying young is for everyone. I don’t think that marriage period is for everyone.

Being married is not something that just happens to you.  While it is often treated like it is on a checklist of expectations somewhere between graduating college and buying a house for the first time, entering marriage is a big freaking deal.

It is a lifelong project that requires constant work and attention. That is an enormous dedication to make to another person, a dedication that not everyone is called to make.  Even Paul says that those who are single should consider it a gift to be used for God (1 Corinthians 7:6-9).

If Vanessa had approached the topic of being young and single from this point of view, or even just discussed embracing her singleness from a secular point of view, I would completely understand and even agree with her.  After all, if you’re not married with zero prospects, what good does it do to mope about it?  Get out there and enjoy every day of life you’re granted.

But that’s not what Vanessa did at all.  She took her opportunity to present a positive viewpoint of being single during a time where that’s no so easy and used it to trash the institution of marriage as a whole.  She insinuates that anyone who marries at a young age does it because it is “hip and cool,” or because they are  looking for a “safety blanket…an admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own.”

On nights when she feels lonely and finds herself wishing that she was with someone, Vanessa consoles herself with the fact that “those [married] friends are going to get knocked up and fat soon sssoooo in retrospect, who is really winning here.”

Before even looking at her shockingly immature list of “23 Things to do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23,” I was convinced of one thing:

Vanessa is not happy about being single.

If she were, why would she so vitriolically label everyone who gets married at a young age to be making a horrific decision that will only end in divorce or dissatisfaction?  Why does she mock the sexually inexperienced?  Why does she say over and over and over again, in several different ways, that life after marriage is no life at all?

Because what she is saying is pure, unadulterated bull.

If her list had contained sound pieces of advice like “graduate college first” or “get a grown-up job,” I’d understand.  But the items on Vanessa’s list only show me how immature she – and apparently a great majority of her audience – must be.

Here is my response to her list of things to do before being engaged or married, the things that I supposedly cannot do now that I have been so tragically joined in matrimony to the love of my life at the age of 22:

“1. Get a passport.”

Now that I am married, living in a two-income family, I am more equipped to travel the world than I ever have been before. We have plans to visit New Zealand and Germany within the next decade – together. Traveling alone, while I am sure it is fun, is not nearly as safe or enjoyable as traveling with the love of your life.

“2. Find your ‘thing.'”

This is so vague and I’m not even really sure what it is supposed to mean.  I’m guessing that it might mean that you should develop a hobby or find something you’re interested in, which is something that I have actually found easier to do when I’m with my husband.  A supportive spouse helps keep you on track when you have doubts about what you can do.

“3. Make out with a stranger.”

Um…Vanessa claims that she’s 22 years old, but I have to say that this seems like something that would make the ambitions list of a college freshman at her first frat party at best.  How is this supposed to make you a better person? If I were to say “Hey, I had the craziest night last night – I let this guy slobber in my mouth,” I doubt I’d get a positive reaction to that. Making out with a stranger – just as gross. I prefer kissing people that I care about – like my husband. And, unlike a stranger, he knows how I like to be kissed.

“4. Adopt a pet.”

I did this once. Of course, I was engaged at the time…

“5. Start a band.”

Because there have never been any musicians, famous or otherwise, who were able to launch a music career because they were engaged or married.

“6. Make a cake. Make a second cake. Have your cake and eat it too.”

I make tasty, yummy food all the time. And my husband eats it with me. That’s the funny thing about husbands – they eat cake, too.

“7. Get a tattoo. It’s more permanent than a marriage.

Careful, Vanessa – your bitterness is showing.  There is nothing preventing me from getting a tattoo right now except my own fear of needles and crippling indecisiveness.

“8. Explore a new religion.”

Unless you feel a particular urge to do this, why would this make you a better person? I don’t see the point in participating in another religion for kicks and giggles, and I’m not sure I’d trust anyone that would.

“9. Start a small business.”

If you want to start a small business, it seems like having a spouse with a steady income would even more enable you to do so, rather than hinder you. But what do I know? I’m just some dumb girl that got married before the age of 23.

“10. Cut your hair.”

Way ahead of you, Vanessa. I’ve actually been doing this since the age of 1!

11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.

If this sounds like a good idea to you, I hate to break it to you – you are either an evil or stupid.  Only someone completely devoid of compassion would set out to toy with two lives just to mark an item off of an arbitrarily composed checklist. I don’t care if you are a Christian, or participate in another religion, or have no faith – this is immoral, and you know it.

“12. Build something with your hands.”

Before I met my husband, I knew that when I inserted the key into my car’s ignition, it cranked.  I knew that when I hit the gas pedal, it went faster, and that when I hit the brake, it slowed down. That was literally all that I knew about automobiles. When I started dating him, he took time to show me how to change the oil in my car, pointed out various things under the hood and helped me identify the different components. He taught me how to change a tire, and how to drive a manual transmission car. This may not qualify as building something with my hands, but he took the time to teach me things that girls are not usually taught, helping me to become more independent even as we became an engaged, and then later, a married couple. We can learn things from boys, girls, especially when it comes to building or working on things.

“13. Accomplish a Pinterest project.

I think I’ve done this fifteen or twenty times. Most of them were for my wedding decorations (I was engaged at the time). Since then, they’ve been gifts for either him or family members. It’s more fun completing arts and crafts projects when you have someone there to admire them.

“14. Join the Peace Corps.”

I guess this is the one legitimate thing on her list, although it’s not something that appealed to me.  If it’s something you think you might enjoy, go for it!

“15. Disappoint your parents.”

Why would this be a goal for anyone, regardless of marital satus?  Unless your parents are expecting and hoping for you to fail, this is never a good plan. I don’t get it.

“16. Watch GIRLS, over and over again.

I watch television shows with my husband all the time – it is more enjoyable when you have someone there to laugh with you.

“17. Eat a jar of Nutella in one sitting.”

I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone – I don’t think a doctor would either. Seriously, how many days’ worth of calories would that even be? This is silly.

“18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places.”

This is easier to do if you have a partner.

“19. Sign up for CrossFit.”

Also something you can do while married. I have a built-in workout and accountability partner. I have never stuck with a healthy lifestyle as long as I have now that I am married, not because he wants me to lose weight, but because he’s an encourager.

“20. Hangout naked in front of a window.”

For God’s sake, seriously? Again, WHY WOULD ANYONE OF ANY AGE, WITH ANY MARITAL STATUS, THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA?

“21. Write your feelings down in a blog.”

Doing that. *checks hand* Oh! Married.

“22. Be selfish.”

This is on the same list as join the Peace Corps?  Being selfish is not a good thing, ever. It makes people spiteful and petty and jealous, and if you embrace it as it seems Vanessa is suggesting you should, you will end up alone. But if you do want to be selfish, follow this advice and get it out of your system before you get married – a marriage is no place for selfishness.

“23. Come with me to the Philippines for Chinese New Year.”

This seems like a cop-out list item that is basically #1, and my response to it is the same.

Marriage, contrary to popular belief, is not where fun and happiness go to die. If you are in a healthy, fruitful, biblical marriage, you will actually experience joy and love beyond your wildest dreams. You will give, and receive, and earn, and share so much more than you ever thought was possible. There will be pain and heartache and difficult times along the way, because life is not fair, and because life is difficult. But if you have picked the right partner, they will be with you the weather the storms alongside you.

To steal from George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air,” “Life is better with company. Everybody needs a copilot.”

I have a feeling this will be continued at a later date. Until then, peace.

O

what being submissive really means

There are so many people outside of the institution of marriage, and even within that sacred union’s bounds, who despise the biblical idea of submission in marriage.  Many of those who aren’t believers decry the idea as misogynistic, outdated, bigoted, and shameful, always citing this verse:

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the LORD. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

I’ve heard this try to be explained away by fellow believers as a mistranslation, or Paul’s personal opinion, or something strictly grounded in ancient Jewish culture that no longer applies to modern life.

For a very long time – even in the early months of my marriage – I agreed with these people.  I mean, if there are no Jews nor Gentiles nor slaves nor masters before Christ, if we have all fallen short of the glory of God, if we are all truly equal, how can this idea of submission in marriage measure up?

But then, one day, I decided to read the verses that follow that so often quoted piece of scripture.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Ladies…ladies…ladies…. We so thoroughly and completely have the better end of the deal in marriage.

Men are asked literally to put their wives above themselves in every sense of the word: physically, emotionally, mentally. They are commanded to love their wives like Christ loved the church (in other words, to love their wives to the point of complete and total self-sacrifice). He is to cling to her, to see to her happiness and physical well-being,

Keeping this in mind, let me ask you: does this commitment not warrant our utmost respect?

The husband is to be the head of the marriage and of the family, if and when children make their appearance.  There have been so many men – past, present, and future – that have misused this appointed role, have used it as an excuse to abuse their wives and make them feel like inferior beings.  This is not a biblical marriage.

If the husband is submitting himself to the commandments and responsibilities laid upon him, he is not a dictator. Rather, he is like the head coach of a football team or a supervisor in a workplace.  Any good coach or manager will only make decisions based on what will benefit the group as a whole – not on what will make him personally satisfied. And when a football team or a department of a business does poorly, it is not normally the team members or the associates that are held responsible, either.

Men are given a tremendous load when it comes to their side of marriage. Not only that, but they are responsible for the outcome as well. If things do not go as they are intended to go, the wife will answer to the wrongs she has committed, but ultimately the husband will have to stand accountable for the success or failure of the marriage. That is a lot of responsibility.

I don’t know about you, but someone with that much love, that much responsibility, and that much to lose deserves every ounce of respect that my body can physically muster.

If you, like me, are a fairly young wife attempting to fulfill this role of marriage, you probably find it fairly easy to practice in private – at least if your husband is upholding his end of the bargain – but painfully difficult in the public eye.  Our lifestyle is not normal anymore, and that’s plain to see by the funny looks that I draw when I call to ask my husband if it’s alright if I take out some cash at the ATM, or if he’s okay with me swinging by Subway to get lunch.  I barely spend a dime without clearing it with him first.

I get the sympathetic headshakes, the quizzical brows, the passive aggressive comments, just as you probably do in similar situations. “Isn’t it your money, too?” I can almost hear them say.

Yes, it is my money – it is also my husband’s.  When I run things like purchases by him, I am not asking his permission to spend our money or following some kind of Draconian order he has mandated I follow.  He takes great time and care to plan a budget and track our spending, and because of this he is more familiar with our financial situation than I am.  Since he’s pretty much the expert in this arena, I defer to his judgement. Plus, making sure he’s okay with my spending before money changes hands is a lot less trouble than if I spend first and find out later that I caused our account to be overdrawn.

Oh, and he clears purchases with me, too.  On top of loving me like Christ loves the church.

You might be one of those reading this that thinks this whole submission thing is a load of prehistoric hokum, and if you are, there may be a smirk on your face as you think to yourself “Well, he hasn’t died for you, has he?”

No, he has not.  Not physically.  But I have no doubt in my mind that he would if it was necessary. In the meantime, he has made countless other sacrifices for me, several metaphorical willing deaths, just for me.

He has given up nights spent out with friends to stay home with me because I’m not feeling well, or even just because I don’t feel like going out.

He has gotten up in the middle of the night to fetch me a thermometer, a glass of water, and an Advil when I am ill.

He gets me through my panic attacks like a pro, ignoring whatever else he could be doing to calm me down even though these events are not medically threatening.

He goes to bed when I do most nights, even if he isn’t sleepy yet.

He eats whatever I prepare for dinner gratefully and with gusto, whether it is prepackaged tortellini or a homemade steak dinner. Nothing is ever too burned for him.

He loves me and cares for me at all times, even when doing so is detrimental to himself.  And I respect him and defer to his judgement. I don’t think either of us would have it any other way.

I suppose we could go back to the way we did things at the beginning of our marriage, if we really wanted to.  We could both try to hold on to our autonomy with petulant and futile grips.  I could start spending money without asking and assume a self-righteous indignation whenever he asked me where exactly our money went this month. He could start coming in late, leaving me at home by myself when I am sick or lonely or down.

And every ounce of joy would ooze its way out of our marriage.

Call this model of marriage old-fashioned, sexist, undignified, regressive. Encourage me to “reclaim my independence,” to be my own woman, to live like I did before I had this shiny trinket on my left hand.  But don’t be surprised when I politely (and completely) ignore you.

There is no longer a me, there is no longer a him.  In that, I find my true joy and happiness.  I could not and never would want to go back to the way things were before.

In the words of one of my very dear friends, “If a decent man has a wife that is willing to submit to his leadership, not in a  doormat kind of way, but a biblical one, then that man will be much more willing to walk through a fire for her if needed.”

Truer words have never been spoken.