I met Tim when I was 17 and he was 15. At first sight, brutally honest, I thought Tim was a dork. His hair was shellacked, and my Dad started singing “How Firm a Foundation” because of his size 14 shoes. The reason we met was because my sister and his brother got engaged and now a few members of the Hooper family came to our house to meet the soon-to-be in-laws. After spending time with their family, I grew to respect Tim for his gentlemanly attitude. I watched the way he treated his sisters and mom; and, I saw him as a good brother-in-law, but had no attraction to him.
About a year later, Tim was about to head back to Germany (where his family served as missionaries). My family had just moved to a new church and because of the size of the church and the town, I felt like I would be single for the rest of my life (dramatic, I know). But, my only desire was to serve Jesus as a wife and mom. It was in that moment that I realized the only things I was not willing to give to God was staying single for the rest of my life and moving to China (because I have an aversion to the food). I immediately prayed and told God, with a completely surrendered heart, that I was willing to stay single and move to China if that was His will. Tim immediately came to my mind and I’m thinking, “where did that come from?” I told God, “If that was you, you’re going to have to take full control”. And BOY did He ever!! When Tim’s family came to our church about a week later, Tim and I walked around the corner at the same time and both of us new in that instant that God made us for each other.
But, the problem was Tim was going back to Germany and I lived in Iowa. Neither of us knew when or if we’d see each other again. BUT GOD, worked it all out and made it possible to talk to each other over the phone, and by a complete miracle, I was allowed to go with my sister and brother-in-law to Germany for 2 months to help them get settled. In that time, Tim and I were able to get to know each other and “fall in love”. It was heartbreaking to go back to the states, again not knowing when I would see him again.
As time went on, Tim called my Dad and told him we were getting to the point that he wanted to tell me he loved me, but didn’t feel he should without promising to marry me. My Dad gave him permission and Tim proposed to me over the phone. Soon after, Tim moved back to the states and proposed to me in person.
In March, Tim and I will have been married for 14 years. We’ve been through sickness and health, rich and poor, better and worse. We’ve seen the heartbreak of divorce, we’ve experienced the joy of children (4 actually), we’ve felt the burnout of serving, and through arguments, communication, getting raw, and having tough conversations – Tim and I are the best of friends. We look back and can see not only the miracle of us meeting, but also the miracle of 2 hearts, 2 different ways of thinking, 2 lives blending into one by the grace of Jesus Christ.
Marriage is hard, it’s not always a “happily ever after” story. Marriage is understanding the other person’s heart. When Tim and I have a disagreement, one of the biggest practices that have helped us, is to listen to the other person and understand their heart. This can actually apply to ANY relationship. If you understand their heart, it’s harder to nitpick their words. Speaking personally, it’s hard for me to get the words out just right (especially after chemo – “chemo brain” is REAL ya’ll). So, when you’re trying to look at things from their perspective, you’re less likely to get into a heated conversation.
Understanding each others’ personality (try taking the Enneagram test together) and love language (The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman) has benefited us in understanding how each other’s brain works.
No expectations! This is another aspect that has been vital to our marriage. Understanding that we are both human and WILL fail each other in one way or another is imperative. Our expectations should be on Jesus and Jesus only. When we narrow down the disagreements that happen, it usually has do with putting our expectations in the wrong place. Such as, assuming your spouse is going to bring you coffee in bed on your birthday or anniversary can start the whole day off on the wrong foot (if they don’t) all because your expectations were placed on a human being that may not have understood what your desire was. This is a small example, but we often put expectations on bigger areas as well, or maybe a bunch of little things that grow into something bigger.
One personal example. Tim was busy working a 9-5 job, on several occasions would work for another job on nights and weekends, worked on the bus Sunday mornings, was in school and splitting any time off he had between me and the kids. I was working as a seamstress from our home, we were visited by approximately a dozen people each week that needed alterations, I was homeschooling, and trying to keep up with the kids and house. Life was crazy! At the time, I had put the expectation on Tim to make me happy (give me my love language, etc.) One day he came home and I poured my heart out to him of how tired I was and needed to see him more. Well, he was so exhausted, he fell asleep while I was talking. This made me even more upset, until I heard that still, small voice saying, “Tim can’t fulfill what you need, but I can”. I got down on my knees and realized how much pressure I was putting on Tim instead of remembering that life is hard and as a human being, it’s impossible for Tim to fulfill my every need. BUT, JESUS can!! I realized that I didn’t need Tim to make me happy, Jesus was everything I needed. When I talked to Tim the next day, I wish you could’ve seen the wave of relief on his face. Without realizing it, it took off a HUGE weight Tim had also been carrying.
Marriage is a beautiful thing, but it takes work, patience, and a lot of understanding. I believe marriage is not 50/50. Instead, it’s giving YOUR 100%! Period. Then leaving your spouse in God’s hands. You may have seen the old visual of a triangle with God at the top, you at the bottom right corner and your husband at the left corner. As you both get closer to God, you’re getting closer to each other. This is such a beautiful image as each of you can be healthy and thriving on your own – complete in Christ! Imagine how much BETTER you can be TOGETHER!