Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It Takes a Village...to Know a Person?

I think as a married couple, it is easy to fall into wanting "just the two of us" time. It isn't that I'd deny Steve "guy time" with friends or "me time" doing something alone (I know how much I cherish both girl time and solitude!), but rather, when we do have evenings or weekends together, I sometimes want to cling tightly to quiet times alone with him. In other words, if he wants to go off without me occasionally and do his own thing, great; I think that's healthy. But when we are going to spend time together, it's easy to default to curling up with a movie or having a date night, rather than making the effort to serve others together, to bring others into our world (or enter theirs).

As I try to articulate this, it seems clear that there are other issues at play besides simply my relationship with my husband, but I'm thinking about it in that specific context because of a C.S. Lewis quote I heard recently. I was struck by the idea that by wanting more of Steve to myself, I may actually be getting less of him. Lewis writes:

"In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles [Williams] is dead, I shall never again see Ronald's [Tolkien's] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him 'to myself' now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald..."

--C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (quoted by Tim Keller in The Prodigal God)

In other words, I alone cannot call forth all the sides of who Steve is. I should have already realized this: Elijah brings out different parts of him, of course, and this has been beautiful to see. But if we were to take our eyes off each other and our own private world in our own home, how much more of each other might we enjoy and experience (in addition to all the other benefits that would bring, to us and to others)? What new facets of my husband might be revealed as I serve beside him in some form of ministry, or as we open our home to others and practice hospitality? How much more of Steve might I have to enjoy, respect and appreciate if I saw him in the varied light that others cast?

It occurs to me that in looking out for my own interests, I actually end up robbing myself of what's best. Which is somehow unsurprising. And I am reminded of the quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: "Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction."

(I feel like I'm not writing very coherently here...forgive me. It's something I've been mulling over since we heard Tim Keller speak last week [that's where I heard the quote]. Feel free to jump in with your thoughts, or ask for clarification if I've been too unclear.)


Laura said...

This makes great sense, and it is true that I see new things in my husband (and I think the same is true with children) when we are around others and there is that additional interaction.

Anonymous said...

I like your title.

And you definitely made sense.

And I agree. :)