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Monday, April 3, 2017

Reachers and Settlers - Revisited

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently got married (considering the whole Dear John experience I had in the process of that, I’m sure I’ll send you something about that later for current and potential missionary girlfriends to read, but that’s a story for another day). The title of your post "Do Relationships Boil Down to "Reachers" and "Settlers" made me think of something my husband and I discussed the other day (I tried commenting on the post, but it was too long): When it comes to true and ideal love, I think both spouses are Reachers AND Settlers.

I love my husband dearly, there are so many things about him that amaze me and that I hope to someday emulate. He has told me the same applies to him. In that sense, we are both reachers.

However, there are definite things about each other that differ from what we had had in mind or hoped for during our single days, things that we had to "sacrifice" when we married each other. Sometimes those traits (or the lack thereof) drive us crazy at times, but we each decided that though they would have been nice perks, they were not absolutely necessary. I'll give some examples.

1. I feel a tad guilty about this, but I am not a fantastic cook. I am capable of following a recipe, but I have no way of knowing if it's a good recipe until I make it, and I have zero instincts about how to improvise in the kitchen or how to improve/fix a recipe. A wife that can't cook well?? Sometimes, he gets home from work/school, he has to rescue my failed cooking attempts. Could have been a deal breaker for him, but it wasn't, and I'm so glad. Because it's something I know he secretly hopes for, I'm always working to improve on it though.

2. My husband (bless his heart) is super-duper messy. I am a very type A, organized person. It doesn't have to be pristinely tidy, but I need to be able to know where stuff is and not dig through random piles of stuff. So when he's gone, I often end up sorting all of his/our stuff that has been left around the house. But you know what? It's okay.

3. I adore music and singing. In middle and high school, it was honestly my life. My previous boyfriend of four years (my husband and I have only been together for eight months) was a fantastic singer. He would serenade me by singing and playing his guitar or the piano, we did duets sometimes, and singing along in the car was a really positive experience. It was romantic! My husband, however, is mildly tone deaf. Sometimes listening to him sing in the car is actually downright painful. I'll be honest, this was almost a deal breaker for me. But he tries so hard, and he loves me more than anything. He even asked me to teach him how to sing better (including how to do the different parts for church hymns). And we both want our children to be taught music and for our home to be filled with it.

4. My husband is a very active person. He loves hiking the mountains we have in the area, and doing similarly rigorous things. Not only does he like hiking, but he loves doing the toughest hikes he can find, always challenging himself. He'd always envisioned someone who would "climb every mountain" with him, and go on these strenuous adventures. In fact, he'd dumped girls in the past because they weren't outdoorsy/adventurous/fit enough. So when I learned this early in our relationship, I got really scared because I have an autoimmune disorder that gives me such joint pain and fatigue that such hikes are nearly impossible for me (or at least very painful when I go, and then rendering me incapable of walking for up to 1-2 days afterwards). Finally, I told him. It was very disheartening news for him, and I'm sure he wishes I were capable, but he decided that this was not something of eternal significance (as he should). I love the outdoors though, and we go on excursions more on my level when my health permits it, and when he gets a hankering to do something more difficult, I encourage him to go with his friends, and take all the time he wants.

Though there are many things we are amazed by about each other, there were several things towards the top of our "My spouse must be" lists that the other simply does not have. I "settled" for a man who is messy and can't carry a tune to save his life. He "settled" for a woman who can't hike mountains or even cook well. One way we knew it was true love was our own tendencies to look past things like these, and judge based on what the other person's heart was like instead. As we did so, we discovered that we were actually Reaching. I reached for a man who serves me CONSTANTLY, often paying attention to my needs more than I do. I reached for a man who somehow came out amazingly responsible, spiritual, healthy, and level-headed, despite a somewhat bumpy upbringing. I reached for a man who is more loving and affectionate than I ever had dreamed of. Things he has mentioned he "reached" for with me are my love of (and talent with) children, my ambition, how physically hardworking/self-sacrificing I am despite my health challenges, and my devotion to the Gospel.

True and eternal love isn't finding the "perfect spouse" who fits every box you had on your checklist in Young Women's or Young Men's. Odds are that you won't find that person. Newsflash, your spouse won't be perfect, objectively OR subjectively. Even if they checked every box, they will still have other flaws. True and eternal love is about finding someone who you end up rewriting your checklist for because you realize what's most important to you.


- Melody

Dear Melody,

So very happy for you!

A good marriage is a lot of work and sacrifice ... and worth all of the effort we can give.

Thank you for the email and sharing what you've learned.

All the best,

- Bro Jo

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