My Marriage is My First Fellowship

When Mark and I tell others that we are married, one of the most common reactions is amusement followed by a question, “It must be really fun to live together, right?”

We answer with “mmm-yeaaa…”. Don’t get me wrong, marrying my best friend is one of the biggest blessings of my life! Coming home to him, getting to enjoy the same heartfelt conversations and laughing about the same inside jokes, tucking myself in his warm hugs, being protected by him at night. Just the thought of it makes my heart flutter. Our marriage is definitely friendship set on fire. The good kind of fire.

That’s the dream. That’s how it is. But it is not always like that. There are many days when we are too focused on responsibilities. I am the busy one. I am the one who wakes up at 3 am to study, naps at 3pm, wakes up at 4 pm to study. My life is 80% being a student. But I have been blessed with a husband who goes out of his way so that I’ll feel his love and support. He does the chores as much as he can, and sometimes, he gives me chocolates to empower me during a late nighter. A little race of heart beat does help. Hehe. My husband does the balancing.

This year was different. Since Mark is graduating, he is also now 80% student, 20% husband and dad. There’s no balance anymore. We are now both distracted by important things. Important things… but what could be more important than marriage and family? Career only goes below that.

The effects of our bad priorities were slow but  sure. Don’t get me wrong, working/studying hard is a good thing to do! But not to the extent where you forget being who you are. You are not just a student or an employee, you are a mom, a daughter, a friend, a wife, a husband, a dad, a sister, a brother. Your loved ones deserve time just as much as your career does.

But yes, the effect. Our compromise was to go on dates every month instead of every week so we could balance marriage and studies. But “every month” didn’t happen, there were times we’d go out once after four month, or once in two months. Slowly, my love tank was starting to be drained. I felt no desire, no affection, no care from my husband. It was like throwing ice cold water on a glowing flame.

I even found myself saying, “Why do you make me beg for your attention?!“. Something I made Mark do in the past, but I didn’t realize it because he joyfully served me. I used to not give him attention naturally, he had to always work so hard for it. I didn’t realize my husband’s pain until I experienced it.

God’s solution

As I was reading The Purpose Driven Life, I stumbled across a chapter that talked about fellowship.

“3 You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way. There is one body and one Spirit, and God called you to have one hope. ” Ephesians 4:3-4

There I learned that my first fellowship is with my husband. He is my best friend. He is the father of my child. He is my God’s best. He is the man I am to spend the rest of my life with. Not everyone who are married are in fellowship with their spouse. Some just do their best to live together for as much as they can. In real fellowship, commitments, efforts, and sacrificesmust be made.

Commitments

When Mark and I got married, we vowed to love and honor each other forever. Not only that, when we got married, we vowed to the Lord that we would put our each other first, that we would meet each others needs, that we will strive to make them happy, that we would stay true to them. There are more commitments than the usual “wedding vow”. The bible talks about a lot of other commitments.

But in this post, I am focusing more on the commitment we’ve made to prioritize each other, to meet each others needs, and to make each other happy.

Efforts

It’s no surprise that commitments do not happen on autopilot. It takes constant work of the mind to be able to regularly execute a effort outwardly. What does that mean? For me to be able to make an effort for my husband, I have to make notes and reminders for myself. Sometimes, I put them on my phone so I remember them. “Make coffee for Mark, write him a love letter, ask him out, ask him how his day is”. I have to exercise my mind and practice this until it turned into a habit. And I am really happy because while God was working on me, He was working on Mark, too. My husband and I aimed for the same things: stick to our commitments, make efforts, even if it requires sacrifices sometimes.

Mark and I used to get through the day separately and just come home to each other. Pursuing each other became peripheral. We pursued each other out of convenience. Now, my husband and I exchange text messages every morning and afternoon with simple “I love you’s”. This simple act of letting each other know we remember each other during the day is like a warm touch during a cold day. We get more excited to come home to each other!

The efforts we made were simple but they counted a lot. I make sure I give my husband a good morning kiss before I leave home. I spend around 2 minutes laying beside him and kissing his forehead while he is still asleep- that’s his love language. Physical touch. Then, I leave for school. When he wakes up, he texts me. When it’s his lunch break, he texts me. We make sure dinner is our time together. We put down our gadgets and have a good conversation about how our day was.

After a long tiring day and the thought that I have to wake up early in the morning, all I want to do is go straight to sleep after all tasks are done. But now, I’ve learned to give at least 10-15 minutes to my husband. to give him a back rub. And he would do the same for me.

There are 24 hours a day, we spend around 6 hours sleeping, 12-14 hours working, 1 hour for our devotional time with the Lord. Surely, a few minutes or an hour to spare for our spouses wouldn’t hurt. In fact, it would heal.

Now, we don’t feel like mere room mates. We feel home.

Sacrifices

The efforts we make takes hard work but it’s easier than the sacrifices we make. For us to be able to go to date nights, we have to settle two things: budget and time.

We’re still students and we have a lot to save up for. PHP 1,000 worth of date means a lot to us. But you know what? The best investment is the investment for fellowship. Yeah, it does cost a little to go out on date nights, but what are we really paying for? Are we paying for the good meal or are we paying to get new experiences together? To enjoy each other’s company, to grow more intimate with each other, and to grow in the Lord? Date nights is not an option in marriage, it is a must. We should never stop pursuing each other. So every time Mark receives his allowance, he intentionally keeps a budget for date night. We have to keep our meals simple on most days so we could make room for a special night.

Time is the bigger challenge. It seems like we have too much responsibilities in our hands and it feels like we always lack time. Time is a very precious gift, because time is something that we can never take back. Once we give a person our time, it would remain unchanged and it would remain theirs… along the memories we built during that time. Marriage is the most important relationship among humans, and it deserves time. But Mark and I aren’t willing to give time in the expense of living responsibilities hanging. Some days, we have to work double to finish all our tasks and make time for each other.

Now, our attitude towards time for each other isn’t “let’s have a date when we have free time” anymore. It’s “this day will be our day for each other. I’ll work around it to make sure this day is ours”. When we wait for “free time”, it seems to never come. Besides, we are always so busy! We don’t give each other free time anymore, we give each other dedicated time. A time with more value, because it is not the “left overs”, it is one carefully chosen and made exclusively for a person.

About our recent date night

Around two weeks ago, Mark asked me out on a date. I love how he asks! I feel that  I am being pursed. He said, “what about Sunday?”. I had quizzes on Monday and his Sundays are really busy. I was ready to study in advance. But his Sundays usually go like this: wake up at 6, attend church at 9, be home by 12, have lunch at 1, drop Taziana to Laguna at 2, be back to Manila by 9 or 10. Pretty tiring. No, very tiring.

So I asked him, “are you sure honey? Are you going to be okay? It’s okay to push back. I would like it better if you could be at a good condition when we have a date.” He answered, “Yes, I want to take you out. Study while I am away, I’ll be home as soon as I can and I’ll take you to dinner”. Wow oh wow oh wow, my heart. I can’t be the only girl who appreciates the “I want to do this for you. Will you let me?” attitude, right?! It’s the gentlest way to be manly!

After church, I studied so hard the entire day. Mark got home at 9:30 pm. I was already dressed up. Nothing too fancy, the Korean BBQ restaurant that we were going to was just walking distance from our home. When he came home, he was smiling, he gave me a kiss and asked, “are you ready? Can you wait for me for a while?” I said, “Sure. I’ll keep reading my notes”

He took a shower and brought out a long sleeved polo. He also did his hair. Like I said, the K-BBQ place was only a few steps away from home. I didn’t expect him to dress up so well for it. He said, “it’s our date night. I want to look good for you”

We bought this card game that is originally intended for fellowship. We decided to try out how it would work for marriage. This card game is super amazing especially when we play it with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend. We get to discover each other more. It has question that would require an answer from the heart. We love playing with it! But to be honest, I think it works better for other fellowship than in marriage. Maybe we need to look another set of cards that is specifically for couples (if there is any). But you could try it out! It’s really amazing.

Anyway, the night ended so well. The korean BBQ at Samgyupsalamat was yummy! It’s so hard to resist now because it’s literally a block away from our home. Hehehe.

We had commitments, and we had to make efforts and sacrifices to meet those commitments. Meeting commitments isn’t done only out of convenience, it’s done out of love. And sometimes, love requires sacrifice.

Though there are times that we have to go out of the way to make a person feel loved and treasured, seeing them happy is the best reward. That is love.

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