One of the things that we love about Shawn's job is the chance to do counseling with people. This morning we did some marriage counseling with a couple that we are hoping to have a chance to get to know better, and I remembered something very important - we are all the same in many ways.
As I listened to the stresses that they were having, I realized how many times I have talked with others about these same issues, and even how many times we have struggled through them in our own marriage! Not to say that they are not important, hurtful, real issues - but just to remind us that we all face these same things. And they come down to the same basic issues - love, respect, and trust.
When we lived in Malawi we did a lot of marriage counseling with the pastors and their wives that we worked with. It is a culture that does not value women much, so one would think that would add extra things to the mix. And in some ways it did - we often had to work to get the wives to speak up, or to even get the husbands to include their wives. But in this culture we have made ourselves so neutral in our roles and relationships that sometimes that confuses things just as much. It is hard for a man to admit, "I want my wife to respect me," or for a woman to say, "I want to be pursued and chased after like I am desirable and loved" because we feel like those are old fashioned and not appropriate anymore. Yet these are some of the basic ways God designed us.
And I, for one, LOVE being a woman and all the things that come with that. Yes, I am strong enough to speak my mind, know what I believe, take care of my family, and multitask. But I am also aware that I want Shawn to date me still, to chase after me, to make me feel like I am the only woman here! And I like feeling pretty and desired.
I don't think I should feel like less of a "modern woman" because I want to feel safe in my marriage.
We all come into marriage with a past. But learning to talk through these things, give permission to feel and communicate, and then encourage each other to run back into the arms of our heavenly Father (where the only real fulfillment will come from) is such a key, basic thing.
I am honored that God has allowed my life to shape the way it has. When Shawn and I reached a time of distance and had to go through some deep counseling at 10 years of marriage, I learned a lot about who I am. When we have sat and talked about our pasts and how they shape the way we look at each other, there have been times of hurt - but even greater times of healing and intimacy through it all. I wouldn't change my life - not the past or the future. Not the good or the bad. And having the opportunity to help other couples see the beauty in this ultimate human relationship is such a fun and humbling role. I just pray that God would continue working in me and keep me running back to him.