It's a strange bird, being married.
I haven't had to establish the importance of keeping my towel mine very own in a long, long time. Yes, when I was fourteen muchly yelling would take place over the ownership of such colored things as towels, but then again, I was fourteen. There was muchly yelling over everything.
"I DIDN'T USE YOUR TOWEL JAMES! STOP YELLING AT ME ABOUT IT!"
"Yes you did. I know because it's wetter than when I was done using it this morning. I checked just now."
"Why are you checking your towel? YOU'RE SO WEIRD!"
"I'm checking it because I have to. YOU WON'T STOP USING IT. STOP USING IT RIGHT NOW!"
"I'm not using it right now, OBVIOUSLY."
"You know what I mean."
"Go away, I'm doing school."
Now, any husband in his right mind knows this is no way to interact with his lovely wifey. Thankfully, I'm not left-minded, so I knew this conversational type was completely out of bounds. It now sounds more like this:
"Lovey, did you use my towel?"
"Why? There are so many other towels in the basket. How come you couldn't just use one of those and hang it right up beside mine instead of using mine."
"I don't like your tone of voice, please take the edge out of it. How did you know I used it anyway? DID YOU CHECK JUST NOW?!"
"No, of course -- yes. Yes I did."
"WHY WOULD YOU GO INTO THE BATHROOM TO CHECK YOUR TOWEL?! Should we name it? We should probably name your towel, that would be a good, healthy thing to do. Let's name it. Why did you check to see if I'd used your towel?"
"It's just a thing I've had since I don't know... the second I was born. I didn't want anyone else to use my towel, ever. No other babies have been born on the towel my Mom first held me in. I made sure of that. Hospital incinerator. It wasn't tough to do when your legs have relatively no muscle structure and you're only 21" tall, but it was worth it. Please don't use my towel."
That's what surprised me maybe the most about marriage. I never knew I had so many "things". And one way to truly show someone you love them is to take what matters a lot to you and dropkick it in the tushy. I'm slowly, ever so slowly learning this difficult, complex and delicate concept.
"No, you can't use my toothbrush."
"Please close the door when you pee. I'm making dinner and the pee sound makes it taste worse."
"No, let's just sit and talk right now, we don't ALWAYS have to be cleaning EVERYTHING FOREVER."
"In this house, we're Patriots fans. That's all. Please trust me and love me on this one and never question that and be a huge fan voluntarily. I said please."
"Whenever you turn the music down you do it way too much and then it sounds like Alicia Keys is whispering. I don't like that."
"You make way too much food every time you cook. There's only two of us, and you cook for like seven."
And so on and so forth.
Love isn't necessarily purchasing someone a candle you hate the smell of but know they'll love. That can be love, but true love -- I'm just now realizing more and more each day -- is setting aside yourself for the other person.
The word sacrifice has gained a sort of greatness I think the Christian culture has projected on to it. Jesus was the greatest man that ever lived; both man and God, he was the epitome of sacrifice. But sacrifice does not always mean "do big things." Jesus lived a life full of serving and sacrifice, doing many seemingly small things that proved to be great in God's kingdom.
Often, sacrifice is realizing someone likes to pee while watching an awesome part in a movie, and hence, doesn't close the door all the way. Or even a little. Greatness can be allowing someone to vent safely, not taking everything to heart and allowing them to verbally process their day.
I'm still at an absolute loss as to what true love looks like in a marriage most of the time. But isn't that where grace and patience come in, unannounced and stand firmly in the way of selfishness? That's the idea anyway. Often discontentment and conflict muscle their way around goodness, loudly state their demands and wait to be served. But there's a reason love is the greatest.
It completely OWNS.
Marriage is a lot of work, most anyone will tell you that. But hopefully they'll also tell you that it's pretty awesome, a hell of a lot of fun, and incredibly affirming. Especially when you come home to the other person bouncing up and down saying "I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE HOME! I MISSED YOU!"
Makes the towel thing seem pretty unimportant.