When my husband, Jarrod, and I married four years ago, we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, but we had no idea how to actually be married. As children of a divorcing generation, we had seen marriages crumble with alarming frequency. We wanted a "good marriage," one centered on God and filled with love, respect, and kindness, but we weren't quite sure how to transition from "me" to "we."
Seeking Satisfaction in Statistics
As a Type A problem-solver and ardent bibliophile, I quickly devoted myself to devouring as many marriage books as possible. After all, I reasoned, being married was a learned skill, just like baking cupcakes or fixing a leaky sink. If I could learn how to do those things by reading, I thought I should also be able to learn how to have the best marriage possible by distilling the suggestions in each book I read into a super-marriage of sorts.
However, Jarrod felt differently. He quickly tired of my never-ending recitation of marriage tips: Spend 10 minutes after work each day reconnecting! For every negative interaction between a couple, you need at least five positive interactions to keep the relationship harmonious! Sandwich your complaints about your spouse in between compliments to express your criticisms without making your partner defensive! After a few too many discussions of my latest read—which always seemed to be accompanied by my gentle suggestions about what we might be doing wrong, along with a plan to fix these glaring errors—he lovingly told me that if I read and attempted to apply yet another piece of marital advice, he was going to lose his mind. I didn't understand. Couldn't he see that I was just trying to do what was best for our relationship?1