Chapter 1: Remembering What We Wanted
After the very well-written introduction, I was expecting chapter 1 to be good, and I wasn’t disappointed. I was, however, very surprised: This is a book about marriage. Written by a married couple. The last thing I expected was for them to reveal that 2 years into their marriage, they were considering divorce. It didn’t happen — they went on to relate a story about their 25th wedding anniversary — but I wasn’t expecting that sort of down-and-dirty reality in chapter 1.
This is a book written by imperfect people about the very real problems that confront married couples. It means a lot that they can be this open about the struggles they experienced in their own marriage.
There were a number of key points in this first chapter that struck home with me. The first was that when boy meets girl and they get married, they both enter the relationship as “deeply broken people.” No one can claim differently. Everyone is imperfect in at least some ways. In addition to dealing with the work of a marriage relationship, these personal issues must still be addressed!
All those fairy tales about a boy and girl who find themselves thrown together into an adventure in a dangerous land, and how they must come to work together if they have any hope of making it through, but they are both carrying a tragic flaw, an Achilles’ heel that pricks the other constantly and they barely do make it through — those fairy tales pretty much have it right.
The second thing I noticed was that though I can definitely see that I am a broken person, I am broken in very different ways than the authors. I see far more insecurity in myself than John relates. He identifies one of his main issues early on as being too overachieving and narcissistic. I, on the other hand, feel that I do not push myself hard enough, content to let things happen as they will.
The next thing that jumped out at me was that the authors consider having a “shared life” and “living for the same things” as key triumphs in their marriage. It’s not enough to simply be there for each other, supporting each others’ individual goals. As a couple, you must be pursuing the same prize, working together and not simply backing each other up. I want that for Amy and me.
Finally, they wrap up the chapter by asking us as reader what we dreamed our marriage would be like before we said I do and even back when we were kids. I identify with John’s dreams quite a bit, especially his first one: “I wanted to be believed in.” I too wanted (and still deeply desire) that.
I also look back and see that I had always wanted my wife to participate in “some grand adventure” with me. If I think back to my adolescent and teen years, thinking about books and movies that tickled my early understanding of what a relationship with a girl might be, I remember things like Goonies and the Princess Bride. Relationship that grew stronger as the couple (or couple-to-be) overcame very real obstacles in their adventure.
Chapter one got me thinking. I’m excited about chapter 2.