It was a split-minded time. I was caught up in myself. I was in school, thinking only of myself, my future, my advancement in life, and, yes, a “perfect” husband and companion for ME. It was a selfish time of life for me personally, but it was also an age of selfishness. Everywhere I looked selfishness was our entertainment, our politics, our business, our personal lives. “Selfies” were the new biggest thing. Even The Bachelor and Bachelorette—shows that were supposed to be about love—showcased self-seeking from every angle.
Among all this selfishness, including my own, I was worried. I was worried about selfishness. I was worried about marriage, a fully vulnerable relationship, which was two-sided and involved someone else’s selfishness. Would l live up to his “perfect”? Would things go how I hoped and dreamed when someone else’s choices were involved? If I married, would I stay happy even if he made a selfish choice or series of selfish choices that affected me?
Fast forward through dating years. I made it. Logan had proposed. I had just jumped over a huge personal hurdle. I had overcome some of my deepest rooted fears and had just made a huge leap of faith, faith in the boy I would call husband, faith in a happy future. I had said “yes” to his questioning about the future and “yes” about marrying him. After the wishy-washy back and forth I had given him for months, I was able to say a sure “YES!”
Without fully getting into the story about how I decided to say “yes” to that big question, (it was a real miracle to me that I could confidently say “yes” to that question to anyone, ever!) what came next is what has left me pondering on more than one occasion.
There we were, sitting somewhat ecstatically for a few moments in silence after I told him I was sure of my “yes,” thinking and dreaming of the tomorrows we would make together, feeling a sense of security that we had not yet experienced at that point in our relationship. We soaked it in, grinning. Having not known each other for all that long, but knowing enough about each other to trust and to know we shared the same goals and the same dreams and the same values which would be a solid foundation to establish a family on, we sat and enjoyed every inch of the feeling. As he held both of my hands, one arm around me, pulling me as close to him as possible in the quiet of the living room, he asked:
“Who are we doing this for?”
His question came out of the blue. I shot him a somewhat puzzled look.
“Who are we doing this for?” he repeated.
“Us?” I suggested with hesitation and a hint of confusion. Thinking this was obvious.
“No,” he replied.
“Our families?” I poked guessingly.
“No,” he said with a smirk (although I was closer to what he was looking for).
“Well, God, of course!” I stated confidently with feelings of premature victory.
“No,” he said, acting as if I was missing something a few inches in front of my face.
“We are doing it for the kids!” he said matter-of-factly.
Seeing that we had no kids–in fact, we had decided to wait until marriage to have sex at all–my mind wasn’t instantly on the same page. My mind briefly searched for what kids he could be intending our marriage and wedding would be for.
“We are doing it for the kids,” he repeated.
“Oh!” I said, still not 100 percent sure of what he was getting at, but feeling kind of stupid for not knowing what he was thinking, and not having had such a step-back-and-really-look-at-it perspective.
Picturing our future kids did make me smile. Thinking about them actually warmed my heart and fizzled the frustration I felt for not originally being on the same wavelength.
As my mind caught hold of his idea I was somewhat in awe. His statement seemed to have wisdom well beyond both of our years.
“You’re right, we are doing it for the kids!” I confirmed. “Thank you,” I whispered to him as I nuzzled into his chest with eyes starting to water, knowing even more just how right this was.
Since that night, I have reflected more on the insight that my not-yet-husband shared there on that couch in that living room I can picture so well. I am grateful that he was given those thoughts that, frankly, I had not even considered. Because given my worries about selfishness and my fears about the damage it can do to a marriage, my husband’s words were reassuring. They assured me that his love for me was not a selfish love. He was not only thinking about how being in love with me made him feel in the moment—he was also thinking about how the love we had for each other would grow and expand into a family. Of course in many ways marriage was about us, and our families, and our faith. But what my husband was really saying in that moment was that marriage was not just about him. It was not just about me. It would affect our children and our children’s children, generations and generations to come, forever expanding.
Even for those without children, your choices and your marriage affect others’ outlook on love and marriage. Love is contagious. Love is expansive, bigger than our small selves.
It is easy to love ourselves, our desires and passions. It is easy to love someone who loves you back. It is hard to love someone you have never met. It is harder to love when you don’t see the fruits of your love returned. It is hardest to overcome selfish love and replace it with greater expanding love. But it’s worth the effort because that is the kind of love that lasts.