Patience: Lessons in Marriage for the Type-A


On Sunday, I asked my husband what he thought was the biggest lesson he's learned in marriage. Ross loves these completely random, probing questions that I decide to throw at him without a moment's notice (complete sarcasm). As he kindly formulated his answer because he's nice and will play along with my "let's analyze our whole lives" mindset, I began thinking about my answer. One word came to mind: patience. Being a perfectionist is a tough way to live, but being a perfectionist without any patience is a death wish. I was the child who threw her violin bow across the room when I couldn't master my scales on day 1. I was the teenager who panicked over the possibility of making a B on an exam. Unfortunately, I am now the young woman who still tries to bulldoze through her life without taking no for an answer. While that may work, albeit poorly, for my own to-do list, the lesson I constantly learn in marriage is that you can't sustain a relationship if there isn't any patience.

When you get married, you make a commitment to share your life, and that means everything. Your time, your space, your favorite coffee mug - these things are no longer your own. There are some amazing, beautiful things about that truth, but there are also some really tough realities. In marriage, you lose your time to decompress alone. It takes effort to have a meaningful conversation when you've been working from home, five feet from the other person for the last 12 hours. It takes self control to not take out your frustration from your job or another relationship on your spouse, just because they happen to be the only one listening. For a marriage to be full of joy, patience is key.

Why? Because when you don't have patience, it's far too easy to make life into one big double standard. You would have done the dishes if you had been in the house all day, why didn't he? You spent hours formulating your plans for the weekend, it's crazy that he couldn't read your mind when he made his own schedule that interferes with yours. You decided that today was the day you were going to sleep in, didn't he realize you were exhausted?! Never mind the fact that you woke him up early the past 6 days, he should have known.

Little moments like this are frequent in our household, and far too often, I respond with an annoyed attitude and an "I'm always right" mindset. Ross, however, responds with constant patience, which has probably saved my life, time and again throughout the past decade. By marrying someone who is my total opposite, I'm constantly reminded of the need for patience, what grace looks like in a person, and how to suck it up when the other person is acting crazy (that's usually just me when I'm hungry though). Marriage teaches us to put our own tendencies behind us so that we can learn a better way to live.

Sometimes the greatest lesson (and blessing) in marriage is realizing that your spouse is better than you at something. It's difficult to continue a bad habit when you live with someone who does it differently, and you watch it benefit your own life and theirs. It takes patience to break your own bad habits and patience to build new ones, but the lucky thing in marriage is that you're given a built-in accountability partner to walk with you through all of these things. There's a reason that "Love is patient" is the first description of love in the 1 Corinthians chapter read in every wedding ceremony. Without it, we can't move forward to better things.