At some point this month most of us will either be crying about the love we lost, planning for the love we want, or doing something extra special to celebrate the love we have. Since marrying at the age of 25--which is completely normal in my community--and earning my Ph.D. at the age of 26--which makes me an outlier--I've been getting a lot of questions from folks who find themselves in the love planning stage. How did I manage to marry the “right” person who wouldn’t sabotage my professional plans? Well, the truth is I did choose to surrender my plans in order to strengthen my marriage, but what I got in return was so much better. Here’s the story...
When I met my husband it did not take me long to assess our compatibility. With a full four years of graduate school glaring at me, I had NO interest in dating for the heck of it. The more I grew to love him, the more my inner planner danced with daydreams of the faculty dinners we would host in our home once he became department chair, of the bedtime moments we’d share with our children as we introduced them to authors like Faith Ringgold, of the Land Rover we’d use for family road trips and the Audi we’d drive to church on Sundays. I had enough dreams, literally, for the both of us.
As time progressed and I added more details to the picture in my head of what our lives would look like, a problem occurred. My husband, quite the dreamer in his own right, began to speak of a future that did not, could not, would NEVER fit my plan.
In premarital counseling we discovered that we were both resistant to being blended into someone else’s main dish. We clung fiercely to the recipes for “the good life” that we had created in our own minds. But our counselor said a profound statement that changed everything: marriage is not the kind of recipe where you simply add your spouse and stir; it requires an entirely new cookbook.
You see the mistake that I had made as a fiercely independent, educated and ambitious soon-to-be-wife was dreaming for two, when I should have been learning how my husband and I could dream as one. I believe the strongest companionships are between two individuals who become so in sync, so passionate about each other’s purpose, that you can no longer distinguish one person’s wildest dreams from the other’s. Each partner, in yielding to the other, makes room for God to clear a completely new path that neither of them would have been able to travel alone.
So what does dreaming as one look like? In my marriage it meant that I walked away from a cushy salary and mid-level management position when my spouse received an irresistible job offer in another state. It also meant that after we moved across the country in pursuit of his dreams, my husband took on a second job so that I could focus on building the company that has been brewing in my heart and mind for years.
My legend principle for a fulfilling love life is simple, give yourself permission to release the life you’ve planned so that you can embrace the much better life that awaits you and your spouse. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like my two cents on other love questions.