Even though I’m a newlywed and don’t have decades of experience being married, I would still say I know my husband very well. I know how to read his moods, and I know which TV show he will think is funny. I know what brand of hummus he prefers, and I know from recent experience that he will not wear a salmon-colored polo shirt.
I thought I knew Tyler well as we were dating and engaged — I mean, I wouldn’t decide to spend the rest of my life with someone unless I knew him deeply. But being married brings another level of knowing someone. First, there’s the practical aspects of merging bank accounts, household belongings, and insurance policies. There are no secrets about how you spend money or how many copies of Elf you now own (in our case, it was three). The very act of living with someone and seeing them in every situation is enlightening. Knowing all of these things about Tyler, and continuing to learn more about him every day of our married life, means I consider myself an expert on all things Tyler-related.
Until I realized I’m really not.
Much to my surprise, there were things I didn’t know about my husband. Particularly, his desire to visit Kansas City. We were talking with his cousin about her family’s upcoming move to Kansas City. She encouraged us to come and visit some weekend. Tyler’s response was something along the lines of, “We just might do that. I’ve heard there are lots of fun things to do in Kansas City, and it’s someplace I’ve always wanted to visit.”
Now, I’m sure Kansas City is a lovely city, but it’s not exactly on the top of my list of places to visit. Alaska? Most definitely. Boston? Touring the Freedom Trail sounds fascinating. But Kansas City? And more to the point, how did I not know this? We had even driven through Kansas City last summer, and he made no mention of his desire to visit. While we were dating, we spent hours and hours talking about every topic imaginable, and during our pre-marital counseling, we spent months and months going over major issues. We did not enter into marriage without a really solid knowledge base about each other.
But there are still things we don’t know about each other. It’s impossible to cover everything, no matter how long you date. And there’s a difference between knowing facts about someone and knowing who they are on a heart-level. I felt comfortable marrying Tyler not because I knew every detail about his life, but because I knew his character. I knew how he treated people who were hard to like. I knew about his loyalty, his kindness, and his work ethic because I had seen it firsthand.
And at some point, marriage involves risk and faith. Being vulnerable with someone and committing to the intimacy of marriage is a risk. But a shared faith in God and a shared belief about what marriage actually is, is what makes that risk worth taking.
So be wise about how you get to know someone and the types of things you learn and observe. But don’t be afraid of moving toward marriage because you don’t know every single thing about the person you’re dating. Spend less time learning the facts about your significant other and more time taking stock of how he leads or how she treats her co-workers. Study their character and their spiritual-life habits.
As for me, I’m going to go pack for a trip to Kansas City.