This post is another guest post from my dear friend, Tara. I love this concept that she shares about living in the AND in marriage - recognizing both the similarities AND the differences. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us Tara!
In the beginning, God created the “and”. He created the heavens AND the earth, the sun AND the moon, the land AND the seas, creatures in the ocean AND in the air. It is as though for each thing He makes, He also fashions a counterpart….He does not choose one OR the other but creates with an all encompassing AND.
As a crowning glory on His of work of art, the scriptures tell us, “male AND female He created them”. He sets up a holy, beautiful tension between these two like-yet-different creatures and we have had to live with it ever since!
See, when we first got married, I am not sure we knew how to live in the “AND”. I really thought my husband and I were so much alike. As we dated, the similarities were striking and I was amazed at how his view on life was so much like mine!! We liked the same things, thought the same thoughts, believed the same things…and there was some truth to that. However, there was some truth to the fact that “either/or” thinking was deeply engrained in both of us. It was either what he wanted or what I wanted; someone would have to switch their ways. It was a small world to live in. There was only room for one kind of something – 1 answer, 1 truth, 1 person. It was a world that valued a soulmate who was made out of the same substance rather than a counterpart who was quite different.
We got married in this paradigm and now it makes me laugh. I think it was God’s way of (lovingly) tricking us into getting to the alter! They say love is blind and covers a multitude of sins, to which I respond “yes, but the length of marriage not only heals our eyesight, but proceeds to uncover all our dirt!”. For us, God had us come together in the safety of marriage so then He could break down our “either/or” thinking in order to lead us into His large and sometimes paradoxical AND.
(I wrote this a few years ago as I was wrestling through being different from my husband…)
Are David and I soulmates? No. Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote “whatever the stuff souls are made of, ours are the same substance.” Not so with David and I. Our souls are made of different stuff but they do need each other – to find completeness in the other.
Take sodium & chloride - individually, they are toxic, dangerous elements but together they literally become salt to the world. We are like that. I need him, he needs me. I have a mystic bent; he is a systematic theologian. He wants labels, categories, governing dynamics; I thrive within inexplicable events. He is the voice of reason and logic; I am the voice of imagination and emotion. He is paralyzed by fear, but when fear comes I am ready to pick up my sword and fight. I am paralyzed by being overwhelmed, but in the midst of that he gets calm and becomes an anchor embedded in rock, not tossed by the turbulent seas of emotion.
No, David is not my soulmate - for that would be far too small and easy. It could not stretch my faith or provide the practice field for increasing strength, endurance, and honing the skills given by the Creator. No, he is not my soulmate; he is my completer.
So what does this mean in marriage? It means I do not live in the fantasy of being the same nor in the aloofness of being different. I stand in the reality of our differences and learn to embrace the largeness of male AND female. I learn to share my perspective knowing that it is necessary but not complete. I know I do not need to diminish who I am but do not need to defend it either. And I bring all I am to the table of marriage and he does the same AND somehow in the feasting we become more than what we were.
Tara Malouf makes her home in the Seattle area with her husband and two kids. She loves images and words, quiet and beauty, walking and prayer. She sees with “connectedness” eyes and thinks life is lived in story. She aspires to be a professional friend.