Marriage is an incredible revealer of truth. It helps you discover not only a lot about your mate but also about yourself as well. I lived in darkness for so long as a single man that God sent along someone who had a big flashlight and wasn’t afraid to use it in my life.
Yes, my real education began when my wife and I said our wedding vows. We hadn’t been married long before I discovered I had a candle problem. As a single young man living in a dormitory room, I owned the mandatory candle. If the electricity went out, I could light it and continue my homework.
But after I got married, I realized my candle worldview was faulty. I didn’t realize we needed Christmas candles, summer breeze candles, lavender candles and sandalwood candles (whatever those are)—just a few to start with. Then I learned about different sizes of candles: big fat candles, tall skinny candles and something called “tea light” candles.
Next, I learned about candle rotation. In the dorm room, my candle sat on a shelf collecting dust. I didn’t know I was supposed to rotate candles throughout the year. The Christmas ones are replaced by winter candles, and those are followed by spring candles. Then I discovered bathroom candles (I was prepared for this one; I had a box of matches already there), bedroom candles and living room candles. Forty years of marriage later, and guess what? I’m still learning about candles.
But candles weren’t the only area I knew nothing about. As a single man, I had no real knowledge of pillows, either. I took a pillow with me when I went to college, and I left the dorm for my wedding day with the same one. But that pillow didn’t follow me into our marriage, where I learned about “Pillowmanjaro.” That’s what happens when you have mountains of extra pillows on your bed that you can’t use as pillows.
Being a man, I think if it looks like a pillow, walks like a pillow and feels like a pillow, you can use it as a pillow. But in marriage, it doesn’t take long before you learn which pillow is a real pillow and which is a decorative pillow (which isn’t really a pillow at all).
I also had to learn about breakfast, lunch and breakfast. In all my growing-up years, my mom never once served toast and scrambled eggs for dinner. I guess my culinary education was lacking. Now I know breakfast can be served any time of the day. In fact, if you want, you can have breakfast, then breakfast and again, breakfast. See how much I’ve learned?
Now that my wife has taught me so well, I even know you have to buy a box to cover up your Kleenex. Yes, you need a box to cover up the box, and it must match the nearby candle. I think schools should offer a class where they teach young men some of these essentials, so they won’t go into marriage as ignorant as I. The class should also include the difference between thread counts and why Egyptian cotton is so highly prized. This will keep them from angering their future wife by coming home proudly with a package of sheets they found at a dollar store.
And one more thing this class should include: Don’t eat the candy your wife puts in a decorative bowl. Yes, you must learn the difference between candy to look at and candy to eat. I’ll give you a clue: The closer the candy is to a candle, the greater the odds are that it’s not a snack.
This list could go on and on, but the greatest thing marriage has taught me is that I need to look less like Walker and more like Jesus. Yes, this relationship called marriage carries the purpose of each partner becoming more like Him. The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).
I heard someone say that your mate is God’s holy sandpaper, and their job is to sand off the parts of you that don’t look like Jesus. But I think our mates are more like electric belt sanders. If you’re anything like me, your non-conforming-to-Jesus parts are sometimes as hard as a rock, and just as hard to remove.
Yes, my marriage has taught me more than I want to know about candles, pillows, and which candy not to eat. But I pray that in the process, God has made me more than a decorative husband—good for display, but little else. After all, the only way to become a better partner for my wife is to become more like Him.