I recently remembered an unpleasant experience I had when I was a young wife. My husband and I were attending a conference. As was usual for us, we were acting very much like newlyweds. Another wife, ten to fifteen years older than I was, asked, "How long have you been married?" When she found out that we'd only been married for seven months, she assumed a superior air and said, "Well, you may feel that way now, but just wait until you've been married for seven years." Her tone and facial expression made it clear that she didn't expect the joy and tenderness to last.
My husband and I come from very different backgrounds. He was raised on a farm in the middle of nowhere in the American Midwest. I spent my childhood going back and forth between suburban Southern California and the Hawaiian paradise I call home.
He’s a third-generation Christian missionary, while I’m a fourth-generation Japanese American whose maternal grandparents and great-grandparents were Buddhists.
His mother was very involved in his upbringing, since his father had to work several jobs to make ends meet. On the other hand, it was my father who raised me, since my mother died when I was 5.
He has a twin and seven younger siblings, but I just had one sister until my half brother was born when I was 17 years old.
Despite these differences, when we met, we immediately recognized a soul mate in the other. This was because in all the areas that mattered most, we were the same.
We both love Jesus more than anything or anyone. We both are willing to follow the call of God no matter where it takes us. Our highest ambition is that our lives would draw others to Christ. On our wedding day, I had no doubts that I had made the right choice.
However, there was one detail about my husband that remained a secret until after we were married.
He is a football fan.
I could never understand the American male craze for football, or any professional sport, for that matter. Although I’m not athletic, I can understand having a passion for playing a sport, but I always found it absurd that grown men could get excited enough to spill beer on themselves while watching a sporting event. (Okay, I’ve never actually seen that happen, but you get my point.)
My father has never been into sports. I only remember him watching the Super Bowl once, and that was only because at the time we were in the habit of going out for hamburgers each Sunday with a group of other families from church. On Super Bowl Sunday, one of the families hosted the rest of us at their home so that the guys could watch the game. Come to think of it, I don’t even know if my dad actually watched it, because we kids were all running around outside. I do remember him spending some time in the backyard with me after I slipped off the end of the slide and winded myself. If he had been watching the game, he didn’t seem in any hurry to get back to it.
Since I have the deepest respect for my dad, his complete lack of enthusiasm for professional sports became my ideal, and I had little use for any guy who would waste several hours watching a televised ball game. Imagine my dismay when I learned that my husband, whom I respected at least as much as my dad, was an Indianapolis Colts fan! God in His wisdom had not allowed me to discover this trait earlier, because it might have been the end of our romance. But now I was married, for better or for worse, until death do us part, so I knew I had to make the best of it.
Fast forward several football seasons. I now understand the significance of a first down and of sacking the quarterback, and I know when a team might want to do an off-side kick or opt for a 2-point conversion. And though I have always scoffed at celebrity worship, I can recognize the first and last names of the star Colts players, and I even know the name of their former coach. I have to admit it: I’ve become a football fan too.
With the time difference between North America and Eastern Europe, watching the games always involves either staying up really late to see the end or getting up in the middle of the night for the kickoff, but despite the hassles, I still look forward to the start of football season each fall. It’s not so much about the Colts, although if I had to pick a team to support, I don’t think I could find a better one. It’s more about the romance of a shared interest and of doing something slightly crazy with the love of my life. Because I’ll admit it—it’s insane to get up for three hours in the middle of the night when you know that the kids are going to wake you up by 7:30. But I think that a bit of shared insanity helps us remember that we’re best friends and lovers, not just the parents of our (very adorable but sometimes exasperating) children.
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What about you? What do you do to keep the romance alive with your spouse?
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