I thought it would be fun to introduce you all a little bit to my husband, Owen. We’re coming up on six months of marriage and I’m more in love with him now than I was when we married. I’ve seen his true character, his genuine love for Christ, his obedience to Scripture and his conviction to do what is right even when it’s not easy. He was also an older single before we married so I thought his perspective might be helpful to our readers. Plus, he’s a great writer, brilliant, wise, handsome… but I digress. So I asked him 5 questions about singleness and the transition into marriage, and here are his answers:
What did you enjoy most about being single? What do you enjoy most about being married?
I’d have to say that the thing I enjoyed most about being single was the available alone-time. As the quintessential introvert, regular doses of solitude and quiet are important for me in order to keep a balanced sense of mental and spiritual well-being. Too much seclusion can, of course, be unhealthy, but for me the single life provided the privacy needed for reading, reflecting, and writing, activities which married life tends to hinder in some respects. (Real life example: My wife just walked in the room and hugged me and told me she loved me, as I sat on the couch writing this post. Personal interaction = train-of-thought broken.)
This alone-time “hindrance” caused by marriage, however, is eclipsed by the thing I enjoy most about being married: the personal intimacy. This may initially seem like a strange remark for an introvert to make, but oddly enough, I find great satisfaction in spending lots of time with my wife. However much I used to crave seclusion away from groups of people, I did also crave personal relationship with one or two close friends at a time. Marriage has given me a close friend—my best friend—who I can trust enough to be myself around, who laughs at my jokes, who I can share my deepest fears with, who brightens my world with her very presence. Trusting another person enough to make yourself truly vulnerable in that relationship is a scary business; but the love and intimacy which can result are definitely worth that risk, as I have personally discovered in the gift of a loving wife.
What are some things you wish you would have done or would have changed before you married?
One thing in particular that I wish I would have done before I got married was learn to manage a budget reasonably well. My philosophy concerning money has traditionally been, “if the bank account is getting low, just stop spending money and start pinching pennies.” This loose method of financial oversight was okay for a bachelor lifestyle. But in marriage, two people must pull from the same bank account, and so spending must be controlled in a stricter way. Cultivating the skill of keeping a budget earlier in life would have made my current financial responsibilities as a husband much easier. Thankfully, my wife and I are now learning this skill together, but she definitely has more skill to offer in this area than I do.
What were some things that you were looking for in a wife?
The list of characteristics I was looking for in a potential wife is short: 2 things – (1) she must love the Lord, and (2) I must like her. I don’t remember if someone told me about these two qualifications for marriage, or if I came up with them myself (someone probably told me), but by the time Carrie and I met, these were the only stipulations I had. The list should not be underestimated, however, simply because it’s short. There is so much that goes into each of these things. For a prospective wife to really be recognized as “loving the Lord,” she must be committed to obeying Christ in marriage, for instance, by refusing to ever get a divorce, by seeking to submit to her husband’s loving leadership, by pursuing marital fidelity over a lifetime, and by seeking to serve others in the local church and in the wider community with her husband. I wasn’t looking for moral perfection in a wife, but I was looking for a virtuous woman who was walking in God’s Spirit and displaying the fruits of righteousness. As far as (2) goes—“I must like her”—well, I think this just comes down to chemistry and friendship. If two people are on the same “wavelength,” and are physically attracted to each other, AND are committed to obeying and following Jesus by never getting a divorce, etc., then I think those two people have a good chance at a happy and successful marriage.
What things are you grateful for now that you are married that perhaps you were not expecting or seeking in a wife?
I am grateful for many things in my marriage, and actually, I was not expecting many of them at all. After I became a Christian eight years ago, I wondered, off and on for years, if I would live a life of singleness and celibacy—that is, if I had “the gift” or not. So, I wasn’t really expecting with any solid assurance to be married in the future. But now that I am married, one thing which I’m very thankful for—and which never ceases to amaze me—is (get ready ladies) the fact that my wife cooks for me. The reality that this beautiful woman I live with actually would, and does, make me food (good food!) blows my mind. This is definitely a traditional domestic set-up, and I think each couple has to work out how their food preparation gets done, but this husband is extremely grateful for a wife who uses her time and creative energy to make food for us. Carrie is definitely a “worker at home,” and I was surely not expecting such diligence and sacrificial love in this area.
What has been the most difficult adjustment since you’ve been married?
The most difficult adjustment in married life for me has been what I call the “human mirror.” When I lived on my own, I knew that I was a sinner. The grace of God taught me that. But, God in his grace now has a new, more intense, method of showing me my flaws, my weaknesses, and my sins. And this method is directly connected to this other person with whom I now live the majority of my life. The Lord is using my wife, Carrie, in my life as a “human mirror” to reveal my blemishes of thought, word, and deed. It’s not that my wife is a nit-picker, always pointing out all my wrongdoings as soon as I mess up. No. Rather, her very presence as a godly woman is enough. Her presence in my life means that I no longer live by myself. I now live in relationship to another person—and sin, by its very nature, always makes personal relationships turn sour. So, to deal well with other people, one must first deal with themselves. For example, when I fail to love my wife selflessly and she is hurt because of my actions, I must recognize my own selfishness and repent, in order to find her forgiveness and be reconciled with her. The closeness of our daily relationship forces me to look hard in “the mirror” to examine my own heart and life, to see what might be present (or absent) that would disrupt the sweet fellowship we are meant to enjoy in marriage. This process is good for me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way! But looking in the mirror is sometimes difficult, and many times humbling, especially when there are many changes that have to be made.
Owen & Carrie Kelly