What I have discovered after 30 years of marriage is that, unlike a single person, being married is like holding up a mirror to my imperfections. Being married has forced me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and stinky attitudes, while being challenged to grow and mature in my character and my love for my wife.
Kathleen and Thomas Hart wrote, “Sometimes what is hard to take in the first years of marriage is not what we find out about our partner, but what we find out about ourselves. As one young woman who had been married about a year said, ‘I always thought of myself as a patient and forgiving person. Then I began to wonder if that was just because I had never before gotten close to anyone. In marriage, when John and I began…dealing with differences, I saw how small and unforgiving I could be. I discovered a hardness in me I had never experienced before.’”
I have always thought of myself as reasonably patient and charitable – that is, until I got married and discovered how passionately annoyed I can become at pulling out empty ice cube trays. I grew up in a family that taught: If you take out an ice cube, you refill the tray before you put it back into the freezer. Now I’ll pull out a tray and find nothing more than half an ice cube – which I call an ice chip.
It was amazing how much such a small detail irritated me. I asked my wife, “How much do you love me?” “More than all the world,” she professed. “I don’t need you to love me that much,” I said. “I just want you to love me for seven seconds.” “What on earth are you talking about?” she asked. “Well, I timed how long it takes to fill an ice cube tray and discovered that it’s just seven seconds.”
It finally dawned on me that if it takes my wife just seven seconds to fill an ice cube tray, that’s all it takes me as well. Was I really so selfish that I was willing to let seven seconds’ worth of inconvenience become a serous issue in my marriage? Was my capacity to show charity towards my wife really that limited?
Indeed it was!
Being married is like constantly looking into a mirror and having revealed to you those flaws in your life that you never knew you had…but everyone else did!