We’ve officially hit our first big milestone: 100 days of marriage! (The timing of this post worked out perfectly…and I didn’t even play it that way!) I can go home to my husband this evening, greet him with a kiss and say, “My dear, 100 days down…only 25,000 to go.”
In one sense, it’s gone much more quickly than I thought it would, certainly more quickly than the final 100 days of our engagement, which seemed to creep along at a snail’s pace. But at the same time, most days I have to think hard to remember what it was like before we were married, before we came home to the same place everyday, before we were living one life instead of two.
After 100 days of being immersed in this mystery, the only thing I’m certain of is that marriage is just that, a mystery. A wonderful mystery, of which I am becoming less and less convinced that we will ever really figure out. Instead we will live it, celebrate it, cherish it, and continue to be mystified by what God is doing in this Sacrament.
So without further ado, the most important things I’ve learned in 100 days.
Everything is doubled…
We’ve got double the number of showers in the morning, leaving each of us with half the contents of the hot water heater. This wouldn’t be a problem if we were both content to take exactly half the water. But alas, one of us is not. And, instead of sprawling across the middle of my queen-size bed as I did in my single days, I now am relegated to just (a teeny, tiny) half, which in itself isn’t a problem, but when you’ve also doubled the number of knees and elbows in the bed…well, you are probably familiar with this equation. There are double the loads of laundry, double the dishes to wash, double the lunches to pack and preferences to consider at the grocery. Double the methods of doing…anything.
…and then halved.
But we’ve also got half the laundry to fold and dishes to wash and lunches to pack because we enjoy doing these things together as a team. Having less hot water has really shortened the amount of time I need to get ready for work each morning. And in those times when I’m awakened at night by an elbow in the side, I find it much easier to fall back asleep, because I can snuggle close to the warm body sleeping next to me and take comfort in his strength and gentleness and his promise to be with me until the end. As we learn to live and work and be as one instead of two, we are aware of the grace in these little moments, that - laundry and dishes, showers and sleep, collaboration and compromise - these are the building blocks we are using to build our life.
I am my own cross…
Biggest. Surprise. Ever. It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was. I prepared for and entered into marriage with the understanding that Josh was going to be my cross. That he, with his fallen nature and faults and limitations, would be what I bear (valiantly) through life to that eternal reward. And I would be his. Foolishly, in all that time, of praying about and preparing for the cross that is Josh, I completely forgot about the cross that is me.
And that is the cross that is heavier, more burdensome, and far less pleasant to carry. The cross that feels more like a cross is not my loving and generous spouse; no, the one I’m carrying (or dragging) day in and day out is me. When I’ve been frustrated with how something is going (or not going) or even when I’ve been frustrated with my husband, a moment of humble prayer reveals that the problem is not external, it’s internal. My stubbornness, my pride, my vanity, my insistence on doing things my way, my desire to be right all the time, my love of comfort - these are the things that are getting in the way. And the abandonment of my pride, my vanity, my comfort, my love of self - that is what will sanctify me. It’s also what terrifies me.
…but actual grace of this sacrament is real.
I learned this lesson early on. So early, in fact, that we’d only been married about 15 minutes. I’ve always struggled with not understanding what relationships will be like in heaven; how can there be no marriage in heaven, Jesus?! Even after choosing to hand it over to the Lord, it was the biggest interior obstacle I faced in my discernment. It was not a fear I could free myself of; I needed grace. And grace there was. As we were kneeling after Holy Communion, listening to “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” ring through the Cathedral, I suddenly became overwhelmed with desire for heaven for Josh. The desire was so strong, so real, I couldn’t help but weep. In those moments, and in the days since, I am free of the anxiety of whether or how we will know each other in the next life. So long as he is there, at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, united eternally to the One who loves him more than I, then nothing else matters. I will be satisfied. This is grace.
Really, it’s all grace.
I know it’s going to get a lot harder. A lot. We are still newlyweds, happy to be stuck in the honeymoon phase. We know that we are going to encounter many bumps and pits, maybe even a mountain or ten. We’ve had a bump or two (maybe ant hills compared to the crosses that some are allowed), just enough to see that, for our fallen human nature, this life we are living is impossible. But grace is making it possible. I’m not the kind of wife I want to be yet, but grace is making the journey possible. Grace is making me the wife who can take a cool shower and laugh when my slumber is interrupted by an appendage that just won’t stay on its own side of the bed. Grace is making me able to seek and accept help, accountability, even criticism. Grace is making me the wife who can say sorry and mean it.
Grace has gotten us through these first 100 days of marriage. And grace will continue to sustain us through the thousands that are to come.
Copyright 2013 Megan Swaim
About the Author
Megan Swaim is an Indiana girl on an east coast adventure. A former high school youth minister, she now gets to minister full-time to her three young daughters and her husband Josh. Megan spends her days homeschooling at the kitchen table, drinking iced coffee, and exploring coastal Virginia.