Maintaining Our Individuality in Marriage
When you look at our marriage you see unity, but you also see each one of us as a different and unique person.
The white and purple blossoms cover the “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” bush in my backyard, and their sweet fragrance fills my senses when I’m on my back porch. The lovely plant is a joy in our landscape.
But what you see next to it will take you by surprise.
Many months ago, I uprooted a neighboring bush that was dead (or so I thought). Suddenly, one day I saw new growth! Apparently, I hadn’t gotten all the roots, and like the poor man in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it was saying, “I’m not dead yet!” This Ixora (also known as West Indian Jasmine) was blooming its lovely shade of yellow once again.
But now comes the surprise: Just recently, I noticed the lovely purple and white flowers mingling with the yellow on that Ixora!
To look at them, you would really think the two completely distinct blossoms were growing on the same bush. How could this be? Can what looks like one plant bear two totally different flowers?
Marriage is a lot like that.
United, yet unique
When my husband, David, and I got married, we did something a little different in our wedding ceremony. We lit a unity candle, which in itself isn’t unique, but then instead of blowing out our individual candles, we replaced them in their holders still lit.
Our symbolic point was that yes, the two shall become one flesh in marriage, but we wouldn’t lose our individuality in the process. When you look at our marriage, you see unity, but you also see each one of us as the different and unique person that we are.
David is seemingly tireless. He can work in the hot Florida sun for hours doing yard work. I spend 30 minutes and I’m depleted. I take a lot of rests when there’s a lot to do.
He’s not a planner. When we take road trips, he’d rather just drive until he’s tired and then find some place to stay. I’m the queen of Google maps, and Siri is my best friend. I want our hotels lined up and the number of hours we’ll be driving to be set. I don’t like the uncertainty of where we’ll lay our heads each night.
Maybe a touch of control freak? Well, probably. But that’s an issue for another time.
He’s an introvert. I’m an extrovert, though my introvert side comes out more and more these days. He puts up with my desire to fill our house with friends because he loves the people, but not the noise or the sometimes accompanying chaos.
Firm in our roots
He enjoys the journey. I like to have a destination. He’s learned over the years that if he asks me to take a bike ride with him, I’m more likely to be enthusiastic if he includes a place he knows I might want to go. Like breakfast at a restaurant. Even when the restaurant is 10 miles away and it’s 90 steaming degrees outside.
And I’ve learned to just follow along on his meanders.
He can draw. I can’t. So when he has an idea of something he wants to build in the house, he knows my next words will be, “Show me.” My attempt at drawing what I wanted in our recent kitchen remodel was a laughable sketch that any kindergarten kid could have bested. But it got the point across. Luckily, the finished product was much better.
He likes music on constantly. I enjoy the quiet, even though I love music.
Like the blossoms on that intertwined bush, we look different. But our roots are firmly in the same soil. We’ve grown together over our 27+ years of marriage because we both love Jesus and want to do what He wants us to do above all. Yet each of us still have a distinct look and fragrance.
And sometimes one of us is blooming and the other is not. That’s okay.
When we were first married, David was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Those early days were tough. He was in pain and trying to navigate through different medications and the disappointment of thinking he wouldn’t be able to do everything he used to do.
As his demeanor dropped, I needed to do whatever I could to support him. Encouraging, loving, exhorting, and above all, praying for him were all tasks that I took on willingly until he could get through that season.
Through infertility and several miscarriages, neither of us were blooming very much, so we spent that particular season digging in our roots and growing in grace with God. We knew that concentrating on growth would eventually lead to blossoming again. We’ve seen each other through job successes and failures, parenting struggles and triumphs, health challenges and healings.
When our roots are strong and we’re well watered by God’s Word and Christian community, this plant we call marriage thrives, each of us shining at our different times.
But the plant sure is pretty when we’re both blooming at the same time.
Copyright © 2019 by Stephanie Reeves. Used with permission.