Last night I missed my husband and began thinking about our marriage. In two weeks we will be married eight years. Eight years. I tried to think how long eight years really is, and my mind wandered to my college days. I will have been married long enough to get two college degrees.
I remember how I felt when I started college. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up because too many occupations were appealing. I was overwhelmed at the idea of picking a major, and then in four years, acquiring enough knowledge to put into practice what I had learned. I was excited at the possibility of leaving school as a mini-expert in my field (even though I didn’t know what that field was at the time) ready to dive into the career I had chosen and show the world what I had to offer.
Except it didn’t happen that way. When I graduated with my degree in Education, I quickly realized I didn’t know nearly what I thought I would upon graduation. Yes, I left school with a fire, a passion for changing the world one student at a time, a healthy idealism that all new teachers should have, but I only had the beginning of knowledge in my field.
As a literature teacher, I had many classics still unread, grammar lessons unpolished, and classroom management techniques and organizational skills still to be discovered. I had just enough knowledge to get a job and enough drive to prove that, after a year, I was worthy to keep it.
I decided I wanted more. I wanted to hone the skills I had and learn more techniques to improve as a teacher. I wanted to fill my head with more theories and concepts and decide for myself which were actually garbage and which would work in the classroom. I was satisfied no longer with having just enough knowledge to get the job–now I wanted to have knowledge at the Master level. So I re-enrolled in school and began the coursework.
After a semester, I evaluated what I was doing. I was spending time and money on something that wasn’t my passion. I didn’t continue in the Master’s program, and I left teaching.
I entered marriage with the same zeal and earnestness I entered teaching, and I couldn’t wait to begin the program. I originally thought that after four years of marriage, I would’ve known all I needed to know. In four years, I’d earn a degree stating I was a mini-expert on Matt and knew how to live as a good wife, how to handle any problems that came our way. Instead, I found that we were just getting started.
The first four years were years of exploration. We struggled to find out who we were as individuals, had a couple of career changes between the two of us, and tried to bring those two confused halves together to make a solid whole. We stuck those two pieces together, like two pieces of a wood that didn’t quite fit, and did our best to smooth over the rough patches. Our marriage was a little messy, but we wanted more. We had just enough knowledge to keep the marriage going but even more drive proving we were worthy of each other’s love.
We stuck with the program and immediately signed up for four more years of coursework. We took classes in parenting and finance and found out quickly just how much we didn’t know. We were still discovering ourselves as individuals but settled into the roles that fit, that seemed to make sense, as we worked together as a whole. We sanded away at the rough patches in the wood, working to make a smooth whole. It was now harder to see where one piece ended and the other began. And no longer were our decisions solely about the good of our marriage but, instead, the good of our family. At the end of another four years, we have just begun to settle into a routine.
We are a couple of weeks shy of earning our Master’s. Except I know now that I haven’t mastered anything. I’m ready to continue my coursework because I know there is more to be learned. And after eight years, the one thing I have learned for sure is that I am not worthy of my husband’s love and can never prove that I am, but I am continually thankful for the daily grace he gives me.
Marriage is a course that I will never master, but I will stick with it because Matt is my passion. We have come together as one, and while that one piece gets more nicks and scratches over time, we continue to sand and make it smooth. It can never go back to the two it was before.
And so we will re-enroll again and find, in the midst of the program, that there are more classes we need to add. And we will look to the true Master for the guidance and grace needed to continue the program with the same zeal and earnestness with which we began.