Recently, I tripped over two nice blogs focused on Christian marriage. Written and collected by Lori and Paul Byerly, they are, respectively, The Generous Wife and The Generous Husband. I have added them to my blog feed at feedly.com and look forward to re-posting their stuff on a regular basis.
One of Paul’s recent posts is entitled 7 Awesome Things I Love About Being a Married Man. In it, he discusses, among other things, growing, having a best friend, sex (!) and one gift to which I haven’t given nearly enough thought: Being Known.
According to my wife Nancy, being known is a basic human need, derived from God’s selfsame desire to be known by us. Certainly, we accept the notion that God knows us–including the shrinking number of hairs on our heads–and scripture teaches us about His desire to be known, intimately, by us.
As I look back over our 31 years of married bliss (punchline: the other seven years weren’t all that bad; thank you for the kind applause), I realize that Nancy knows me better than anyone on the face of the earth. Better than our daughters do. Better than my parents ever did. Better than the best of my friends does or ever will. Better, perhaps, than I know myself. Why is this so important, at least to me?
- It relieves me of having to explain any number of tiresome things–things I like and dislike (ranging from food to politics), stories from my past (she’s heard them all a thousand times), in short, the way I like the things in my life ordered. She can pretty much tell just from my body language exactly what I’m thinking at any given moment.
- She has seen me at my absolute best and my shameful worst, and has committed to stay with me until death do us part. She requires no impressing, although I continue to try. (She’s from New Jersey, and so it’s hard…)
- We have arrived at a set of shared values that are well understood, mutually, and upon which we can each rely 24/7/365.
- I find comfort in the fact that, in the likely event I will one day predecease her, she will help keep my memory alive for our kids and theirs. For, along with wanting to be known, I have a pronounced dread of being forgotten. (Other than their names, I know virtually nothing about my father’s parents; completely forgotten within two generations.)
- Ironically, I find that I do not really want to be well-known outside of my immediate family. I cultivate a persona at work, for example, that does not really reflect who I am. There is a very small group of people with whom I work–maybe three or four–whom I allow to see what I think of as the REAL me.
Couples who meet, start dating, become engaged, get married, and survive the first ten years of marriage do not typically enjoy the gift of being fully known. The gift of being known is, for me, comparable to wood or metal which, over time, gets burnished by touch and use, becoming slightly worn but more lustrous. The more visceral gifts of new relationships that succeed thus give way to the cerebral joy of knowing, and being known by, the person who will, ideally, become your favorite person in the world.
God willing. And He is.