How can I sum up our first five years of marriage? It feels like 5 minutes ago and 500 years ago all at once. 4 houses, 2 states, 3 children... I've changed; we've changed.
When we got married, we were madly in love. Don't get me wrong, we're still in love, but much of the madness has faded. Now we are able to see each other and our life together through more realistic spectacles.
In the early days we were much more focused on adoring one another. These days, we're more focused on laughing about our babies, remembering what God has done in our lives, and enjoying good food, wine, conversation, and experiences.
We are painfully normal. We go through ups and downs. Like any other couple, there are times when we disagree, we take each other for granted, we don't feel connected, and we miss out on opportunities to spend time together.
But, being a front row participant in my husband's life has taught me so much. Listening to his struggles, following his (sometimes complicated) thought processes, and experiencing life's joys and pain with him has been an education.
In honor of our fifth anniversary, I'll share five things I've learned while living with and loving Jonathan Henson.
1. Be reasonable
My husband loves to talk, and he can talk to anyone. He especially loves to talk to people who hold beliefs that differ from his. He doesn't engage these people because he believes that he can crush their arguments. He enjoys these conversations because he believes that he has as much to learn as he has to share.
On more occasions than I can count I've sat listening to him talk to people in our dining room, in local bars and restaurants, and wherever he happens to strike up conversation. People always leave him feeling challenged but loved.
It's easy to demonize people who are different: to laugh at their "ignorance", to assume their simple stupidity. We forget that every person is made in the image of God and therefore reflects that image in some way. There is much that we can learn, see the good, challenge the evil.
2. Fire and Motion
It's a catchphrase around our house that was inspired by this article written by Joel Spolsky-- who is one of my husband's software engineering heroes. It means: don't expect to be wildly productive everyday, but keep moving forward. Fire at your enemy and keep moving. Gain a little ground everyday and one day the battle will be won.
3. Never stop learning
When we first got married Jonathan was focused on going to seminary. Then he landed a job in software development and the rest is history. He fell in love. So with the same vigor he used to plumb the depths of weighty theological issues, he threw himself into C, C++, Java, MySQL, and plenty of other things I still don't understand.
The man solves math problems and writes programs for fun in his free time. He loves to learn and expand his mental capacities, and I love to eat chips and watch movies. He has inspired me to read more, think more, and stop squandering my gifts.
4. His name is Jonathan not Jesus
This is a lesson I seem to learn over and over again. In my mind our relationship should always feel deeply connected and wildly passionate. I want to stay up till 3am every night having amazing conversations. I want to know every detail of his day. I want him to text me funny stories about his co-workers all day and pictures of what he ate for lunch.
The reality is that we are two deeply flawed people who work hard all day and have three young children. We work beside each other and don't always have time or energy. I cannot look to my husband to fill every need I have for love, validation, or even companionship. If I do this I will suck him dry.
Jonathan sent me a sweet letter with this Bob Dylan quote enclosed while we were dating. It was after our first fight about my not feeling connected. I wish I could say this conflict doesn't come up anymore, but it does. The last line he added himself.
Go ’way from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Never weak but always strong
To protect you an’ defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe
5. Embrace your limitations
This is a lesson we've been learning together over the past 5 years. We're learning that God honors our faithfulness more than our ambition. We want to do so much, change so much, and we think we have good ideas.
But we're finding that we only have time to do our jobs, care for our children, love our neighbors, pray to our God, and fall into bed so we have the strength to do it again the next day. This is my husband's favorite quote from The Hobbit and it just about sums it up:
Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? I don't know. Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage. -- Gandalf, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.