Chapter 37 Impetus for Maturity
The first summer of our marriage was full of gardening: planting, watering and weeding both in our backyard and in the hearts of our young people. We were busy and happy, living the ideal life with a good marriage, good church, good ministry and good work.
Although we’d planned to wait at least a year before beginning a family, the Lord had other plans and in the beginning of January Barbara announced that she was pregnant.
“Well,” I thought, “better early than too late!”
During the Spring, as our anniversary was approaching, I thought back over our first year of marriage. Because of some erroneous expectations on my part, in a number of ways it had been a time of disillusionment. That is, several of my preconceptions had been proven wrong.
One was my view that as husband and spiritual leader, I should have all the ideas and make all the decisions. It was disconcerting to realize how many times Barbara had a better idea than I did—probably about 85% of the time!
Also, the process of making decisions proved much harder that I’d imagined. Although she was not trying to compete, Barbara was a first born as well as an only child and I was the oldest son. That meant that both of us had definite ideas about how to do things and they rarely lined up. So we had some lively discussions during the decision-making process.
In the beginning I was actually shocked that she did not think the same way I did, and at one point, about two months into our marriage, was so angry with her for refusing to agree with me that I wanted to punch her in the face! Anger was again rearing its ugly head inside me.
Fortunately the Lord restrained me and I turned and punched the wall instead, putting my fist right through the drywall. I never did that again; it hurt too much! The pain helped me to want to do something about my anger.
The Lord was certainly using our marriage to begin to expose the source of my unreasonable anger. I had no idea at the time that it flowed from my great insecurity, but God would reveal this in time.
Looking back, I can see that the two primary means the Lord has of maturing us are first marriage and then children. I would find out later that children are definitely the more effective because they are immediately and totally dependent on us, their cries for our help are always urgent and they don’t go away! Maturity on our part is necessary for survival—both for the children and us.
I already knew that as a husband it was my responsibility to meet certain needs of my wife—my problem lay in that her definitions of “needs” were not the same as mine.
One day she began talking about replacing the wallpaper in the living room. My aunt had put that paper up for my sister’s wedding just ten years ago! I liked that wallpaper and it looked fine to me, therefore I was not willing to spend any money for what was obviously such an unnecessary item.
We had a number of discussions about this, most of them ending in tears, Barbara’s tears. I stood firm, and finally she agreed not to spend the money for it. I breathed a sigh of relief. But a short time later, she excitedly announced that her mother would pay for the new wallpaper. At this point I saw that the wise thing to do was agree. We put up new wallpaper, the living room had a fresh, new look and I had a happy and contented wife.
What I learned from this is that beauty is not just a “want” for women, it is a necessity. They function much better when their “nest” is more than just a place to live, but surrounds them with beauty for their souls.
Another lesson was tied to the reason for our marriage: that we could serve God better together than separately. Whatever helped us work better together was a good thing. This turned out to be a effective guide for us in making other decisions. We learned to ask ourselves, “If we do this, buy this, don’t do this, will we be more effective for God?”
Picture: Barbara the master gardener