5 Ways Community Life Improved Our Marriage

March 11, 2016

Community Life; Lessons Learned In Marriage; Provocative Joy; Rochester, NY

I did the impossible. I convinced my husband to do something he really didn’t want to do. The Not-So-Newlywed Game was the tense topic of several evenings, but he did it. I know he did it for me and that meant the world!

The game turned out to be a lot more fun than we expected. Last week I explained how this game displayed, in a nutshell, why marriage on the Africa Mercy can be so hard.

However, it’s equally important to explain the other side of the coin. “If the challenges are twice as hard, the accomplishments taste twice as good.” That’s how a Latin music artist describes her career and that’s how I describe life.

The reasons it’s uncomfortable, awkward and less than ideal…

…are the same reasons that it’s been the best decision for us.

5 Reasons Why community life Is Good For Our Marriage

Vulnerability is the key to intimacy

When you see your partner deflated after a meeting, or with a popped ego, you gain understanding about who they are. When you see the other person’s weaknesses, “I love you” is a powerful statement. I once had a friend who was in a relationship with someone I really didn’t like. I simply didn’t like who she was, or how she looked, or how she related to me. I had a few founded complaints, but the rest were petty, shallow and pathetic. I wasn’t doing a good job at hiding those sentiments. When I shared them, Ruben bluntly told me how shallow I was being. It kind of stung a little because I knew he was right, but I wanted him to validate me. Yet, later that day, and every day since, he tells me he loves me. He loves me in spite of and because of who I really am.

Study For Surprise Pop Quizzes

The Not-So-Newlywed Game was a series of simple questions. No matter who is asking, it can feel like a pop quiz! How well am I acquainted with my own husband?! The questions never stop, especially on board a ship full of friendly, inquisitive people. As a newly married couple, it was embarrassing when I “failed”. In our first 6 months of marriage a coworker asked, “What is Ruben’s favorite food?” I had no idea! What kind of wife doesn’t know her husband’s favorite food? So I went home and “studied”! We had a conversation about favorite foods! Thankfully there’s no pop quiz. But that doesn’t mean we can’t study our partner: their likes, dislikes, strengths, what kind of beer he likes, or how I should support him when he gets unexpectedly pissed. Oh, and I think his top 3 are Puerto Rican food, Chinese food and homemade mac-n-cheese.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance looks different on the ship than life at home in any other country. It’s weird at first, but there are so many perks! The possibility of lunch together any day of the week. The ability to find and talk to him briefly when you find out your sister is pregnant. Oh wait, that was a mean joke my brother-in-law played on me! But I did find Ruben right away and tell him the (fake) good news! Getting to see him hard at work with the deck department. It’s a window into parts of his life that were previously very separate. I can see all the aspects of him that make him who he is!

Cast Our Own Mold

Are both partners equals, or does the husband have authority? Is it better to have the same group of friends or find different social circles? Should meals always be eaten together or do you operate on your own schedule? Do you tell your partner where you’re going or just go? You probably made decisions regarding those questions on which one is better, more godly, or more considerate. On the ship people can ask innocent questions that make you wonder if you’re doing things “right”. No one can figure this out but us, and what works for another couple causes arguments for us. It’s beautiful to walk alongside other couples on board and know that we are unique, learning, and can cast our own mold of what marriage should be… for US.

celebrate, Don’t compare.

While talking about walking alongside others, the temptation to compare ourselves to others will always be there. This goes beyond marriage. We all know better, but comparison can sneak in. What’s the alternative? Focus on our strengths! When we compare, we focus on someone else and it reflects a distorted image of ourselves back. How to fight it? Focus on yourself without pride in an effort to identify what makes your marriage awesome. If the positives seem insignificant, then choose that area to strengthen! Someone else out there is looking at your gifts wishing they had what you have.

When we compare, we focus on someone else and it reflects a distorted image of ourselves back. Click To Tweet

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