This weekend, Dave and I went to a marriage seminar organized by some friends of mine from the Church at Lake Travis. A pastor friend of theirs from Alabama spoke about marriage. It’s hard to summarize all that he said, but what I walked away with is that marriage is an opportunity and an obligation to love another unconditionally. Marriages work when people decide to stick with them. That second statement seems obvious, but it’s true, right? If people quit, the marriage is done. But if they stick with it, even when it’s hard, then there’s a chance that things will get better. This workshop really hit home with me in a way that convicted me to apologize to Dave about various things I’d said and done or not done in the last month.
I’ve said to my friends and even to Dave that I think it’s easier to be single than in a relationship. I think it’s much easier. It’s not necessarily happier, but it’s easier when I am in total control of my life, my home, my resources, and my plans. But throw another person into the equation and suddenly, I’m not the only person to consider, and I don’t always get my way. I like my way. My way works for me. That’s been a hard adjustment for me since Dave moved to Texas. He’s not even a little pushy or demanding, but he is different, and it’s just not possible for me to get my way every single time.
I’ve wondered over the past few weeks if maybe I’m just wired to be alone. I’ve never wanted to leave Dave or for Dave to leave me, but I’ve toyed with the idea that maybe we should be neighbors and best friends and just leave it at that. Why get married? Why complicate everything in that way? Wouldn’t it be easier to keep the “his” and “mine” lines drawn clearly and pick up with one another when we want companionship? I think it would. But would that be better?
What I realized this weekend during the seminar is that being with Dave forces me to be a better person. Alone, I have the tendency and the ability to be incredibly selfish. Alone, I can retreat into my home when I’ve had a bad day, and no one has to see or experience my foul nature or wrath until I feel presentable again and choose to leave my home. Alone, I can always always always put my best foot forward because I control completely what others see and what they don’t. Alone, no one on the planet knew me better than Bread and Butter. They saw everything.
Now Dave sees everything. That – more than not getting my way – is the part I don’t like. That’s the part I’ve been resisting. He sees my tiredness, my frustration, my selfishness, my lack of patience, and my jealousy. I can’t hide it from him because he’s around all the time. And I don’t like that. I like to hide. That’s the single best thing about living alone. I can hide if I want to. I only set foot into the real world when I love the me that I am about to present. But with Dave around, there is a witness to the real me, and that witness mirrors back to me who I am. And damn, it is scary.
I can’t be the real me to the extent that the real me is awful. I have to be better for Dave. I have to factor him into my behavior all the time. And when I fail at being my best or at least civil, I have to trust him to love me despite what he sees. It’s hard. I haven’t wanted to do any of that. Until now.
I am so lucky that this incredibly sweet and wonderful man picked up his life and moved from Iowa for me. Things would be easier for me if he hadn’t. But they wouldn’t be better. I wouldn’t be better.
Dave has shown me that he loves me, not just when I’m putting on my best face, but all the time. Knowing what I know about myself, I am grateful that he does. I’m grateful that he wants to commit to me. I don’t come anywhere close to deserving that kind of love, but he’s willing to give it even when it’s hard. If I can muster the courage to really receive it and to give him the same in return, we’ll both be living in the thick of a beautiful, unconditional, hard-working, never-give-up sort of love. That would most definitely be better than being alone.