Constructing a Marriage

We packed the minivan, your dad and I. Loaded it up free of all things pertaining to you kids, because although we love you, this was our time. To claim each other like we did before we were blessed with you.

And that simple task spoke volumes. On one side, the crab nets, fishing poles, and surfboard. All things adventure and recreation. And the other, office boxes filled with used curriculum and books awaiting the trip to the used bookstore in Portland, the laptop, and a choice of books to read depending on my mood.

We could not be more different. But we’re here at our 14th anniversary trip because we both choose not to meet in the middle but to stake our claim firmly in the other’s territory. And I’ll be honest, we’re not always very good at this.

Because it’s human nature to want to meet in the middle, or even dictate our own terms entirely. It seems like that’s the way of the world. You meet my needs and we’ll get along fine. But the truth is that God requires us to give 100% even when you feel you are getting nothing in return. And we’ve both felt like that at times. 

Sometimes I roll my eyes when your dad is playing some YouTube video about governments conspiracies and secret societies. And he yawns wide and his eyes glaze over when I wander the aisles of a bookstore lusting with abandon at the crisp covers and ink lined pages. We  often disagree on politics, movies, gun control, and video games.

I have philosophical conversations about the why? He doesn’t over think things.

I must have a reason to spend time doing something. He does things out of curiosity.

On the weekends, he wants adventure, to pack you guys into the van and search for a fishing hole, a hiking spot, a place to pan for gold. He wants to BBQ with the family, the neighbors, his friends. He wants to connect through action. He’ll drive long the winding roads with music on and conversation at a minimum. I have to coax words from him and plumb for his thoughts. He connects through all of our bodies moving in the same direction along the trail, through shared adventure and action.

On the weekends, I want solitude. I’ve been with you guys from morning to night all week, doing school, baths, driving to karate, doctors appts, naptimes, bedtimes, and emergency potty breaks while waiting in line at Costco. Every moment an endless barrage of questions, instruction, interactions, and mediation. And I love our talks, your bodies snuggled onto my bed with the books spread out between us, but I also need the quiet.

I want to go to the bathroom by myself without little hands picking the lock, (I really wish you would stop that.) I want to read a book and get past the first paragraph before I am interrupted. I want to crank up the music and dance around the house. I want to mop the floor without little feet traipsing across it. I want to sew a curtain or pin things on Pinterest. I want time to enjoy my own company. Just me as a person. Not a mom or a wife or a teacher or an office manager.

And so our Anniversary trip consisted of two very different personalities.

We browsed the home school bookstore and when four hours had passed and I couldn’t find him, he had pulled out a sleeping bag and was asleep under a tree in the parking lot. He didn’t enjoy it like I did, but he let me, and when I found all the books I wanted, he loaded them into the car for me and listened while I showed him the deals I got.

And when we got to the coast, I sat peacefully on the shore with my book as he donned his wetsuit and waded out into the freezing waves.

When he woke early every morning, and my night owl tendencies left me drooling into the pillow, he ran out and picked up coffees and cooked breakfast for me before I even cracked an eyelid. A very wise man indeed, to bring coffee when attempting to wake me. And when he tired after surfing or hiking up hills or searching the shore for shells, I made dinner for us and we ate with the view of the ocean spread wide and open before us.

And we remembered why we love each other.

Could we both have married someone who was “better suited?” I’m sure if we filled out a dating questionnaire, we wouldn’t even be a possible match. And yet, here we are 14 years later with a marriage built on compromise and commitment and I’ll be honest, sometimes I’m lonely wandering those aisles fingering pages and I wish he got it. I wish I could bookmark the pages and lines that spoke to me for him to read later. But some of that might be the “you complete me,” fantasy that little girls are spoon fed through our romance and happiness culture.

Only God can complete me. And God gave me a husband to complement and grow and learn together but we are both fragmented even as we are one. And we’re not one because we have the same political views or taste in music or hobbies.

We are one because God joined us together in this life and we are on the same team. I am for him and he is for me because we make the choice to be.

We give each other room. Not too much that we grow apart. But not so little that we each feel like we need to change who we are.

I will always need more solitude and quiet. He will always crave adventure and excitement. And some weekends, we pack up the car and head out with fishing poles and crawfish bait and others he takes the kids swimming or to the river and I close the door and melt into the quiet.


What are your views on compromise? How do you make marriage work? Do you find you’re more similar or different when it comes to your spouse?

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  1. says

    Wow, Alia. You have touched such beauty here and such deep, deep truth. I love what you say about not meeting in the middle, but staking a claim in each other’s territory. And about those places you are met and those where you are not, that cause you to recognize the perfect completer. I’m grateful for your reminder that love is choice and grace and to loosen our grip. Thank you, friend.

    • says

      Oh, thanks Brooke. Yes, they all know how to pick locks. We have those really easy ones you can open with a coin in the groove. Seriously not a fun surprise skill. Even Nehemiah can do it.

  2. says

    I think this is such an interesting post. I’m currently single, but I feel like I will file this away for future reference. I thnk it;s really important to take an active role in your partner’s life, not meet in the middle, like you said. I also feel like it’s super important to remain your own person – like when you went to the book store and then he went surfing. You supported each other’s wants and you were each involved in the other’s desires. LOVE it!

    • says

      Yes, I think that to love someone best we have to be ourselves and to accept others in that same way. It’s taken us quite a few years to find a good balance but we’re getting there. Thanks for stopping by here and sharing your thoughts.

  3. Julie Watts says

    Alia Joy,

    Loved what you said about ” (choosing) to not meet in the middle but to stake (your) claim firmly in the other’s territory.” and God requires us to give 100%. This is such an important concept for marriage.
    This is even important in everyday life. How can two live,, walk or work together if they aren’t willing to accommodate and compliment the other. We need to be nurturers, encourager s and involved in each others lives in whatever life situations we find ourselves in.

    • says

      Yes, we don’t always do it right or well but when we do, we know God blesses our marriage and our years together have been proof of that. It was so good seeing you the other day. Thanks for all of your encouragement about this blog and writing. I appreciate you.

    • Alia Joy says

      Me too! I am planning on being at the jumping tandem retreat and can’t wait to meet you in real life. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  4. says

    Covenant Love is truly a beautiful thing! Love your use of the word “choice.” This word has moved my marriage deeper than the word “love” ever has recently. Hearing my husband say “I choose you” melts my insides. So happy you both choose one another. Hope we can connect more!

    • says

      I loved reading about the process of reconciliation and your discovery of what covenant love looks like. The choices we make say where our hearts are every day. So good to get to know you a bit more.

  5. says

    love this. so much truth in these words – to recognize that marriage is not a 50/50 kind of thing, but a sacrificial 100% kind of thing…those are the things that 14 years of marriage teaches us, I think. (we’re in our 14th year right now as well.)

    • says

      Yes, and even in those 14 years, even now, it’s easy to forget it some times. We expect to be met and loved and cared for just right and sometimes it looks a lot like sacrifice instead of sweethearts and roses, but in the midst of it, God’s glory can be revealed. Here’s to 14 years!

  6. says

    I’m not sure how I missed this the first time, but am so thankful you picked this one to post over at Kris’ Encore….loved it. Such truth.
    Happy belated anniversary, friend ; )

    • says

      Thanks Nikki. It was actually in May and we just got around to taking a trip a couple months ago and then it took me another few months to write about it. I’m a bit of a slow processor at times. :)

  7. says

    I love you guys praise jesus he made you. but my marriage at this time in my life is not like it use to be , i feel like i have lost my husband ,i dont know him any more ,he just doesent ,talk to me any more. but iam trusting jesus in this sad story of ours .see i got sick at one time epilipsy . 5 years i had it for but ,it wasnt epilipsy.but i asked my husband why doesent he love me any more .he said i have put you on hold ,when you are better i will think about it. iam still waiting for my husband to love me again .but i know when i get to heaven jesus is waiting to take me home ,so i will be loved bel ,we have been married 4 19 years in oct ,this year.


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