After almost a year of marriage, I’ve spent some time lately thinking about our relationship and thanking God for sustaining us. So many deep hurts, harsh words, jealous thoughts and lengthy arguments were avoided this year because of God’s grace in both of our lives, but especially in Xavier’s tender heart. I was going to save this for an anniversary post, but I changed my mind and decided to share it today because (let’s be honest) I’ll probably have a whole lot more to write once the actual anniversary gets here.
When I met Xavier, there weren’t many other people that reminded me less of myself. He had a bright blonde mohawk and a handle bar mustache. He wore shirts with skulls on them and nearly never smiled (smiles are the first thing I notice about people). We started dating three years ago (as of April 3rd) and there were a lot of times that we would sit down on a date and ask each other if we had enough things in common to even be best friends. Our main beliefs were similar but the things we enjoyed doing, what we wanted to talk about, where we wanted to go and our dreams for the future were so drastically different. He wanted to talk about math, statistics and metal bands. He wanted to ride his dirt bike, go long boarding, watch macho movies, workout, move to another state, live in a big city and get tattoos. I wanted to have picnics in the park, take photos of everything, talk about photography during every single car ride and watch Anne of Green Gables. I wanted to live on a farm and raise cows, dogs and babies. It bothered both of us that we were so different and for a little part of our relationship we tried REALLY hard to convince the other person to change (he tried to get me to get a nose ring and I tried to get him to cut his hair). We were at opposite ends of a rope and we were both pulling super hard for our way.
I don’t think we have stopped pulling super hard, but we don’t always pull for our own way anymore. Xavier’s perspective is that we are both still pulling on a rope, but now we are on the same side, pulling together for each other. He has modeled this time and time again in his support and care for me and what I love to do.
Learn about someone’s likes and dislikes. Xavier enjoys dinner chats about numbers, math and artificial intelligence. I’ve tried to understand what he says, but I usually quit trying after he uses too many words with more than six syllables. On the other hand, I could talk about photography until my listener passed out from boredom. Creative things might not be his passion or favorite topic, but the difference is that Xavier listens to me. Not only that, but he also asks questions about what I’m interested in, he asks me what I like, what I don’t like and why. He always tells me to just talk to him because he wants to communicate and then he genuinely seeks to understand and learn about it when I talk.
Appreciate what someone is passionate about. For a guy like Xavier who is all about logic, common sense and numbers, my photography dreams shouldn’t make sense to him. Photography gear is expensive, it isn’t exactly an empty market and I hit highs and lows regularly. But instead of trying to convince me to pursue something more profitable, he has tenderly fanned the flame in my heart and has picked me up off the floor multiple times (literally) to set me back on my feet and remind me to do it because I love it. He compliments my work, takes time to read each one of my website edits and offers feedback on how to keep everything on track.
“We’re on the same team, remember?” I have a tendency to get flustered when my ideas don’t line up with Xavier’s. When this happens, he often pulls me aside, looks into my eyes and reminds me that we are on the same team. When I’m feeling discouraged by ______ (planning, cooking, housework, etc). he always asks what he can do. When I need to be motivated, he knows exactly how to motivate me in different situations. He taught me the selflessness of simple service. Putting toothpaste on my toothbrush, packing our lunches and biking to work with me on HIS days off make me feel like we are in this together. And I’m slowly learning that having a team made up of people with different strengths and weaknesses is actually really good.
Does an opposite person give you more to learn about, more to appreciate and more to disagree on? Absolutely! Does it give you more to fight about and compromise over? Without a doubt. But the twinkle in Xavier’s eyes and the feeling of friendship that comes when I simply ask a follow up question to something he said or when I try to see his side of the discussion makes me see the importance of learning from him and appreciating who he is. It makes me want to practice more with other people too. Being a friend to someone similar to you is one thing, being a good friend to someone who doesn’t always share the same opinions and passions is a whole lot harder. I’m becoming increasingly thankful that God paired me with someone who isn’t just like me. Xavier’s example of friendship has changed me and I hope that I can grow to be more like him.