by Christina Baldwin
Did I ever tell you about the time that I found out I was pregnant after my husband and I had come off of a motor bike and he had fractured and dislocated his shoulder? It’s a good one! We had been married for only 6 months and had just come out of super busy season of coordinating our first big city-wide outreach. We had been offered a friends holiday house down on the south coast of Western Australia, where there is some of the best surfing in the world and incredible scenery at every turn.
So off we went!
After our first night we decided to explore a little. James suggested that we rent a motor bike. At first I wasn’t into this. I’ve never liked motor bikes or roller coasters or anything really fast where I don’t feel like I’m in control, but he was so excited and he even took it around the block a couple of times to reassure me that he was confident and safe...and so I agreed.
We took off down a wooded road with the most incredible, huge trees. It was the perfect day, a slight chill in the air, beautiful blue sky and the sun shining warmly on our faces. We talked and laughed and felt like nothing could ever be wrong with the world! As we rode down this wide road, James at the helm and me riding pinion, he suggested that I should steer. Now, if you know me, you know that I would never suggest such a thing. I’m not a thrill seeker. I don’t like danger or feeling out of control. (I know I said that already but it’s really really true.) But the utter utopia of the moment took over and I leaned forward, around him, and took hold of the handle bars. Well, you can guess what happened next! A slight bend in the road came up and I under steered, causing out little tires to come in contact with the gravel on the edge of the road, flipping the bike out from under us!
James instinctively put his hand out to stop us.
His arm hit the road at around 280 degrees, pulling his shoulder joint out of it’s socket, leaving it suspended in an excruciating position. I was ok, the back of my hand was grazed, and my sunglasses broken from the impact of my helmet hitting the road but, apart from that, I was unharmed.
I sat on the side of the road, waiting for help to arrive from the volunteer ambulance, and cried, feeling entirely responsible for almost killing my new husband. We spent almost that entire night in the Emergency Room. The next morning my whole body ached and when the Dr suggested I could be pregnant it occurred to me, well yes, indeed I could be. And sure enough I was! What an eventful weekend! Both highs and lows I will never forget.
Little did I know that this weekend would be indicative of the life and adventure I had just embarked on when I took on the name Baldwin!
When it comes to friendship in marriage, I feel like I could talk about twenty different things but then I think perhaps I have nothing to contribute, because it’s kind of unfair the way I totally lucked out!
I am married to the most delightful creature in the whole world!
He is always happy to be with me. He’s an excellent communicator and has a fantastic ability to bring life and make the best of the most mundane and even straight up hard situations in life. He’s also a natural born messy, has a new vision to take over the world at least twice a week, and lives at a level of intensity that makes me want to go and take a nap, but it was the kindness and wisdom of the Lord that He chose to bring us together and I’m so grateful for this man.
We don’t have a perfect marriage by any stretch, but our relationship has been a safe place, a wonderful place, and in it I have grown. So here’s what I’ve learned, over the last 11 years, about friendship while being married:
Go along for the ride. Sometimes you don’t know what’s in store until you go on the journey. That story of us coming off a motor bike was crazy and scary but also funny. The Lord protected us in amazing ways and we grew through that shared experience. Would I have chosen it? No, but its part of our history, a part of what makes us us. So I encourage you to say yes to that random opportunity. Go on that trip, spend the money, trust the heart of this person who knows you and loves you that their idea is a good one and that they have your best in mind. Love him enough to let him try that thing he keeps talking about and even fail without having a big fat “I told you so” waiting.
Life is so short! Make it an adventure and go on that adventure WITH the one your heart chose!
Vulnerability is one of the greatest gifts you can give your husband. We’ve talked about this in light of other friends, but I think it’s all the more important with the man in your life. Most men are instinctively protective. They want to fight for, provide for and rescue their damsel. So often, because we’ve been hurt, instead of going along for the ride or letting him lead, we micromanage every situation. Out of self-protection we think through every possible scenario and figure it out so that we’re in a position of strength! Or we have our defense prepared in advance, in case it all goes wrong, so that we can very articulately lay the blame on something or someone else…most frequently, him. Honestly, I understand! There is no judgment, many of us are cautious for very good reason. But if this becomes a consistent position of your heart, it is straight up destructive to the health and life of your marriage!
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. One of the many times we moved we had a big blow-out fight. We were unpacking boxes and something came up about a particular friend of James' from college. There were certain things in his past that hurt me and they are almost all associated with this friend. I snapped at him, he gave a defensive jab back and it was on! I don’t even remember what the argument was about but I remember being so angry and hurt I took myself to another room to work alone. As I sat on the floor with my legs crossed, pulling books out of the box in front of me, hot tears rolling down my cheeks, muttering to myself…I had a moment of clarity.
It was not what he had done that I was so angry about but how the memory of those things made me feel.
We had talked about them at length and I had forgiven him but I still needed to let go of the emotions associated with them AND… I needed his help to do that. So I took the first step. I was not the one in the wrong but I knew that I needed to bring him into my pain and fear in order to bring about reconciliation. I walked back into the living room, where he too was sitting on the floor with a box in front of him, and curled up right in his lap. I put my arms around his neck and my head on his shoulder and cried quietly.
After a minute or so I told him how the mention of his friend triggered something in my heart and I didn’t know how to get past it. We talked and prayed together for a long time which was so simple but brought such intimacy and resolved the struggle in my heart in a way I can’t even describe. After that he understood a little more, and how my heart operated. We both grew from first hand experience of saying “hey, this thing is not ok, and I’m not ok,” and responding with “lets walk through this together.”
When it comes to building intimacy, vulnerability is absolutely essential. Jesus said, "blessed are the peace makers." So, if making myself vulnerable and taking the first step (not necessarily the blame), to resolve a conflict, even when I’m not in the wrong and especially when I am, means that friendship with my husband will grow stronger and sweeter and become more established then I am, that is an investment I am willing to make!