This Intricate Union

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CHRIS + SÉ SHARE HOW INTENTIONALITY AND RESPECT ARE KEY TO BRAVING CHALLENGES IN MARRIAGE.

Our union, like most others, was instituted through an exchange of vows, rings, and a hurrah down the aisle. Despite the pouring rain at our outdoor garden wedding and having to cancel our reception cruise due to thunderstorms, we couldn’t have been more thrilled to be each other’s life partner for all the days to come. It was the day we tied the knot, but we truly had no idea how this commitment would refine us both.

Our backgrounds, upbringings, and experiences couldn’t be more different, and learning to embrace those differences has shaped our intricate and complex marriage. There has definitely been times of hardship, but also times of immense joy. We’ve had a lot of changing seasons in our marriage, and we love when we get to have honest conversations with other couples about them.

How did you meet? We met in college, through mutual friends, although we didn’t become close right away. We spent a lot of time being intimidated by each other when in reality, we were intrigued by one another. We were in the same program, same internship, and worked at the same place—we were bound to have interaction whether we wanted to or not. Looking back, we’re thankful for that season when our paths crossed so much. It began our strong admiration for one another.

What do you feel makes up a good husband or wife? A good spouse is tough to define because we don’t see this role fitting in a box or some sort of mould. We believe that to be a good partner, it will look different depending on the other partner’s values, desires, and personality. Of course, there are commonalities like being a strong support and making sure that the words exchanged during vows are upheld with the same level of commitment through thick and thin, but what makes each relationship so unique is how you learn to be a good husband or wife. When we first got married, we didn’t fully understand each other’s needs or even ways to communicate care in a way that the other could interpret it as such. Through the last three-and-a-half years, we’ve committed to learning what it means to honour, protect, and cherish all the complexities of each other.

Have you had any marriage role models? We really admire our friends that have children or are foster parents. We don’t have children right now, but when we sit around the dinner table among friends that are cultivating their marriage with the experience of raising children, it blows us away. We’re also really inspired by couples that show intentionality in their relationship.

What do you think the purpose of marriage is? Companionship at the utmost vulnerable level. While that may seem very simple, you could write volumes of books on that sentence.

Have you faced challenges in your marriage so far? Only 468,156, 204 in our three plus years! *estimated count, may not be accurate. Like any couple that is as different from one another as we are, it’s unavoidable. We’ve learned that challenges aren’t a bad thing, and having that perspective really changes the way you approach them. We’re not as quick to understand, forgive, and move forward as we would like to be in our ideal world. We don’t have an ideal marriage, we have a real marriage, and we would argue that the latter is better (and wonderfully messier). We are very human and when we face challenges (big or small), it often takes multiple conversations, willingness to put our pride aside, and putting our focus on the question of “What is best for us?” instead of “What is best or most comfortable for me?” The challenges we’ve faced have been crucial to the development of our relationship, and we always find ourselves closer in the end.

Have there been times when you wanted to run away? When things get tough (and they do get tough), it has crossed both of our minds. The most vulnerable thing to do in that moment is to be completely honest and share your thought process, and that in itself has been one of the greatest gifts in our relationship. We’ve talked through these thoughts, and it’s been one of the greatest gifts to have that level of honesty in our relationship.

How do you make each other feel safe? It seems simple and can probably translate to any type of relationship, but we listen to each other. When processing emotions or thoughts aloud, we hear what the other person is saying. We try not to fix or console too quickly, but to give the other person the room to be as vulnerable as they want to be.

What do you think you need to remember each day that will help your marriage? It’s all too easy to take for granted that you are living with the love of your life. The human you overwhelmingly adore, so much so that you committed yourself in a lifelong relationship with them. What a privilege. We need to remember that that’s the person we’re coming home to each day. They deserve the very best of us, not the leftovers or all the pent up tension from that meeting at work that went south. A job, situation, dilemma, they are all temporary in the scheme of things. Your spouse, they’re a part of your core, forever.

What would you say the secret is to a lifelong union? Ask us in 60 years! (Just kidding) If we had to answer that now, we would say the secret is intentionality. From conversations with couples that have been committed for many decades, it seems that the simple, humble, and intentional acts in a relationship can be the most meaningful.

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