I was dumbfounded, not really understanding what I’d just heard. My husband and I were at the gym together. Free weights, mirrors, machines, the smell of rubber and sweat. He said it again: “When I tell you to get up, I mean now. Move quickly.”
I shook my head still in disbelief. My husband does not speak to me this way. It’s been many years since we learned the kind of communication required to keep a marriage together. We speak to each other with respect, patience, and kindness. Yet he said it not once but twice.
I restrained my constant companion (pride) and resisted the urge to fold my arms across my chest and glare. I stood quickly and turned around for my next instruction. It’s not about me. It’s about heart rate, I told myself. It’s not about us. It’s about physical improvement. It’s not about him. It’s about following instructions.
Each week, I have an opportunity to practice submission at the gym. Greg is not only my husband, but he is also my personal trainer. He’s excellent at his job, but following instructions without the benefit of a “please,” “thank you,” or more importantly for me, a 30-minute conversation about why I might consider the next 10 minutes of activity good for me, is a challenge.
Our Marriage Didn’t Start this Way—It Was Much Worse
Greg has not always been my personal trainer. In the 10 years we’ve been married, we have started and stopped our relationship more than once. From the beginning, he and I struggled for control over everything. In a new marriage and a blended family of four teenage children, we battled over discipline; we played tug-of-war with ex-spouses; we argued over nutrition, family fitness, and, of course, money. At a time when our children needed unity and strong leadership, he and I could not agree on anything. Our marriage was a mess.
We separated more than once. Each time we hoped for something different, but we were unable to change the patterns of our negative behaviors. We tried counseling; we tried 12-step; we tried distance. But we weren’t truly united in anything we tried. After two separations and the divorce word threading its way through our conversations, I tried forgetfulness. Could I really pretend I wasn’t married and live happily without him? I retired my wedding ring and decided to move on.
My Marriage, My Nineveh
The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. (Jonah 1:1–3)