What is the appeal to sitting in front of all your coworkers and answering pop-quiz questions about your spouse? I had to explain that one to Ruben in order to get him to agree to this Not-So-Newlywed Game. However, when I spell it out, it sounds pretty sadistic actually!
As I looked through the crowd at other couples that had wisely not signed up for this Not-So-Newlywed Game, I felt like they were safer facing me than I was facing them. They looked so comfortable and entertained. We, on the other hand, felt lots of butterflies in our stomachs and tried to play it cool.
Oh, but we know each other. Really, we do. Even if they make it appear otherwise, we are gonna keep our heads held high.
That’s what it’s like for a married couple that joins Mercy Ships: Everyone can see almost everything, but they don’t know what’s really going on. We held our heads high when things went awesome, and we do the same thing when things are rocky.
We won that game. I literally couldn’t believe it. We won a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant. That helped me accept reality: A free date. We’ll take it!
Our confident knowledge of who is the better kisser (Ruben) and who kills the bugs (me) finally paid off. However, as the couple with the fewest years under out belt, it felt a little wrong to win among couples I admire. I attribute the victory to a smaller memory bank to pull from and a shorter amount of time since we got married. Less to remember, and more recently that everything went down.
We’re just starting to get it (this marriage thing), and just starting to really understand each other. And yet, I understand my husband just as much as I understand physics: when you spell it out in a textbook, the introduction sounds clear, but the advanced theories seem light years away from natural comprehension.I understand my husband just as much as I understand physics. Click To Tweet
We arrived on board after 18 months as husband and wife and here’s why I would not recommend ship life within the first two years of marriage:
vulnerable and on display
You’ll see him moments after a meeting that completely deflated him. She’ll gossip and spew negativity about someone that you both care about because she knows you won’t tell. You might witness his ego droop when work is incessantly frustrating.. You’ll see her when she’s feeling insecure about who to hang out with. This side of your spouse isn’t attractive.
you are playing a newlywed game show 24/7
I remember our newlywed days. Curious coworkers would ask me about Ruben’s likes or dislikes and I’d admit that I had no idea. On the ship since we’re both present, there is plenty of opportunity for pop quizzes. I met a very curious girl last year who asked me upon our first introductions why I married Ruben. A big argument we had on New Year’s Eve had some bystanders that may have been uncomfortable. Some arguments just don’t make it to the cabin. We’ve had to ask friends to leave us alone for a minute because we needed to talk. If you’re around us enough, it comes up who does more laundry, who wants kids more, and how our first date went. All of the friendly questions from the newlywed game actually come up while living everyday life on the Africa Mercy.
When we were dating, I didn’t want to leave his side. I wanted to be with him all day and all night. If you told me I could live and work and have similar friends with him, it would have sounded amazing. Yet, in practice, it’s not always so. Sometimes lovebirds like us need a break from each other. That break can be hard to navigate on the ship. We had two separate work and personal lives before. Now we are trapped in a metal box together. At home you probably work in separate places and have non-mutual friends. Here on the ship, it’s virtually impossible to achieve a work-life balance like what you’re used to at home.
It doesn’t matter how you think marriage should be arranged and practiced, people will project their ideals and assumptions of marriage on to you. Those ideals won’t be the same as the ones you’re trying to live out. Innocent conversationalists like to comment on marriage based on how they think it should look. This doesn’t bother me anymore, but upon arrival to the Africa Mercy, it was harder because we didn’t have much of a foundation to work from. We were still learning what it meant to be married. Some of those innocent comments made us second-guess ourselves.
comparison is easy
Comparison is also deadly. When you eat with, work with, hear from, hear about and look up to other couples on board, it can be brutal if you compare yourselves to them. You happen to notice what they do really well, and it’s also what you and your spouse don’t do enough of. The challenge is to embrace the DNA of your own marriage while accepting the differences of the people all around you.
Mercy Ships isn’t for the faint of heart. These challenges have driven us into the fire, and our commitment to each other and to a successful marriage have forced us to learn a better way. After months of figuring it out the hard way, we are healthier, more founded in our relationship, and more acquainted with each other than when we first arrived.
Ruben and I would both agree that it feels much safer to sit in the audience watching the action than be on stage hoping you don’t blunder too badly. However, we signed up for this game show called life and, ready or not, we’ll answer all the pop quiz questions thrown at us. I think the audience is rooting for a marriage-win.
If you liked this, keep your eyes peeled for the other half of this post: 5 reasons why Mercy Ships was a great idea for us and our marriage. I didn’t want to overload you at once! Oh, and if you know anyone that might like this post, please share it with him or her.