On our 20th Wedding Anniversary trip, my husband William and I drove up the coast of Maine because I’m an island girl and the ocean speaks my language. It bothers me so much that William has zero interest in something I believe is part of my very soul. I love the ocean, he can’t stand the beach — just one of many ways we are complete opposites. In addition, he’s a sports fanatic, and I’m a bookworm. William’s never met a stranger. I’m an introvert that doesn’t mind occasional people. William is a quick-witted vocal processor. I’m a contemplative that considers all the angles internally. He leans slightly conservative; I’m a little more liberal. As two passionate people, it is frustrating when we don’t see eye to eye, but like Paul said in Ephesians 5:31-32,
“"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Complementarians and egalitarians alike now want to see which side I take on marriage, but all I can really say to Paul is, I agree.
The idea of two whole, distinct beings merging into one is more than a mystery; it’s a miracle! William and I are so entirely different it sometimes feels like we will NEVER agree, and yet, we have not merely survived 20 years of marriage, but we have lived these years FULLY. We are by no means the same twenty-year-old kids who got married two decades ago. Life has shaped us into completely different people with new perspectives, new ways of seeing and doing and being-and yet, we remain one. How can two ever changing personalities still fit after twenty years of change? Ephesians 5:31-32 reminds us that just as Christ and the church- — made up of countless unique individuals — can be in complete union, so can a husband and wife. Unity doesn’t require sameness, it allows for differences and focuses on what’s shared.
William and I have ended many lively debates with, “Okay. You see it your way, I see it mine.” I am convinced that without Christ, these disagreements would never end peaceably. We both have strong opinions in a culture that draws hard lines. If we took our cues from the world, we would eventually wear each other thin with constant conflict, always fighting to prove ourselves. We’d argue, be defensive, and shrink everything down until we were narrowly boxed in — defined and separated by our differences — no longer drawn close through our common experiences.
In Jesus, love expands, enriches, enlarges. Love makes room for differences. Grace fills the space in between.
It’s the only explanation for how two people can navigate twenty years of change and yet remain intimate friends who share a past, look eagerly ahead together, and also often disagree.
In Christ and in marriage, there is always room to grow.
I don’t know. It’s a mystery.