This weekend I got to spend a chunk of time with a far-away friend, a woman whom I admire and deeply cherish. She married the closest thing I had to a younger brother growing up, and it's really true what they say about marriage-that it can be a multiplication of love. By finding and choosing each other, they added friendship and fullness to all the relationships around them.
On our drive to New Hampshire, we talked about what lessons the ups and downs of marriage teach us. In some ways, we are in the middle of very similar seasons. We're placing a high value on adventure and travel, on securing a new identity as "us" and not just "I", on rooting ourselves in strong friendships, and on weathering the transitions that make your twenties so delightfully unsettled.
I ask questions and listen intently, because this girl has the kind of brain a therapist would envy. She is acutely aware of the unfolding dynamics within her ever-extending family, and I leave conversations with her opened to new ways of seeing my own web of relationships. I should have taken notes while she talked, but I had the steering wheel in front of me, so instead I paid attention as hard as I could.
And as I listened, I realized how important this is, this talking about marriage and family and the small and seismic things that we encounter as we walk this road. "I never want to stop having conversations like this. I never want to stop learning," I told her, my eyes moving fast between hers and the Interstate.
I picture us in 10, 20, 30 years, surrounded by our babies and our community and complex demands on our time. When we get to those milestones, I still want to be talking about marriage. God help me (and my husband!) if I believed that our union requires conversation, inquiry, and awe-filled amazement when we've only started our lives together.
Learning is the sister of passion. When I take stock of what's hitting or missing in my marriage, when I listen to a dear friend tell some hard-won truths about her new family structures, when I ask my husband what love would look like to him right now, right where he's at, my passion, desire, and love for him is at the very center, giving weight to those questions and conversations.
I want to stay passionate. I want to keep talking, and listening.
I want to have the posture of a learner in my marriage, of someone who is asking questions like the answers matter, because she knows firsthand that they do. I never want to assume that I've wrestled my way through the marital jungle and arrived at some complacent destination.
Our marriage is my mystery of choice. Not to figure out, but to behold. Not to possess, but to steward. Not to master, but to serve, for as long as he and I both shall live.
Today, 3 years after my husband popped the question and I said "yes!" (Okay, first I said, "Get up!" and then I said, "YES!"), I'm giving thanks for the friends and family who keep making spaces for this conversation to happen. There are so many worthwhile things to talk about; marriage ought to be one of them.