I have been happily married for two years now. Sometimes it feels like I just met my beloved and other times I can hardly remember life before him. I have thought a lot recently about our beginnings... we met a little over five years ago. I thought he was handsome immediately... but we were no more than just friends. Throughout our first year of friendship, we lived in community together with other friends... sharing happiness, sadness, prayer, feasting, laughter, and tears. Christ drew us together slowly. And then we began dating... or really, courting. My beloved said last night that he knew shortly after we began dating that he knew we would marry. And... I felt the same way. We exchanged "I like you's." in April four years ago. It wasn't long before those turned to "I love you's." Then, two years ago, we exchanged vows to selflessly love each other always. It hasn't always been easy as two sinners living together makes for some challenges, but we continue to choose to love one another... and that has worked well for us.
(Our traditional anniversary pic... we took the top one this year, the middle one on our first anniversary, and the bottom one on our honeymoon!)
So... in honor of two wonderful years together, we ran away to Galveston for a mini vacation. The weekend entailed a lot of relaxing, some fun in the sun, a tandem bike ride, yummy food, some hard-core scrabble play, and lots of love.
The word of the weekend was flexibility. With the exception of one thing... I wanted to ride a tandem bike with my beloved. And we did...
As we were riding, my beloved and I began thinking. We thought about marriage, our distinctive roles as husband and wife, and how we related to one another as husband and wife.
1. I took the back seat; my beloved the front. In Ephesians 5, Paul tells us that the husband is the head of the wife. My beloved is the leader... and I am to submit to him as we both submit to Christ's lead. Along our ride, I could choose one of two views: I could either look at my husband's back or I could take in my view to my right and my left. Looking in front of me was not really an option. My beloved had to lead because he was the only one who could see where we were going, and in this instance, I had no choice but to submit. How often, as the wife, do I try to lead with my husband still sitting in front of me trying to fulfill his God-given role as leader of our marriage?
2. I admit that I would not ride a tandem bike with many (at least, not in the back)... and even if I were to ride, I believe I would be most comfortable with my beloved. But... why is that? It has to do with his character. Having someone guide you on a bike with traffic and the seawall dropoff is a little absurd if there were no trust in the relationship. Furthermore, as the backseat rider, I had no control over the direction of travel (the handles in the back are more just for looks... they were completely useless when it came to steering) and the speed (with the exception of slowing down slightly). I trust my beloved. I trust him with my life. How he treats me is selfless and loving. He has never hurt me and his desire is to protect my heart. I cannot tell you how many times in our relationship he has immediately gone into fighting mode to protect me (mostly, when I freak out over a bug... sorry !). Because of my beloved's trustworthy character, I could take in the scenery and enjoy the ride... I did not fear what was ahead because I knew that my beloved was a good leader as evidenced in our marriage and I believed he would take care of me.
3. As wife... as submitter to my beloved's leadership in our relationship... I learned some valuable lessons about my role as wife. While riding, I never had the final decision in which direction we were going or how fast we were traveling. If I wanted something, I had to present the idea to my beloved to be considered... we had to communicate! Most often, my beloved would naturally consider me and what I wanted. In the end though, he had the final say and I had to accept that (he had the handles that steered!). I realized how important my role as helper is in the relationship. As wives, we have the privilege to submit... hopefully, to God-fearing, prayerful men. Our husbands make the final decision but it is never without consideration of the wives. We are helpers... we are to listen to God too and to encourage our husbands.
4. In my role as my beloved's helper, I realize how much I can encourage or hurt him. Imagine how a husband would feel if he had to drag his wife around... and everywhere he led, she followed begrudgingly. It would be like me being on the back of the bike and not peddling at all or even worse, pushing the brakes while he was trying to move forward. Like I said before, I had no control over how fast we were going, but if I didn't help out... my beloved knew. His load was much heavier. And... it was even worse if I tried to brake. I could not stop the bike altogether by pressing the brake but my beloved would have to work that much harder to keep us moving forward. Imagine if I did not trust my husband on this ride or in our relationship, we would both be pretty miserable. I would always be nervous of where he was leading... trying to take the reins from him. And... he would always be dragging me along. This is not what God intended marriage to be! As wife, I get the opportunity to come alongside my husband throughout our daily life and lighten his load for I am his helper. In our daily routine, this might mean making him dinner after he had a really long day of work... this looks like me washing his work clothes and looking out for when he is running low so he never has to wear dirty clothes to work... it's the little places in life that I get to help (and sometimes the big places too).
The bike ride was just another mirror of what God intended marriage to be. I am grateful for this illustration. I am grateful for this getaway with my beloved. I am grateful for two wonderful years. And... I am grateful for everyday more that I get to be one with my best friend.