The last word on marriage

Jenna Stephens–Staff Writer

“Jenna, it’s not a big deal,” he said.

There we stood in front of the bathroom mirror, in a sort of showdown, both wanting to get our way and both thinking the other was being incredibly stubborn.

“No,” I replied, walking out of the bathroom.

Brushing our teeth together before we were husband and wife? I would do no such thing.

When Conner and I were dating and engaged, I so badly wanted to save a bunch of trivial, everyday actions for marriage. I didn’t want to brush our teeth together, because I thought it would be so much more magical if it was done next to my husband.

Conner eventually convinced me that my mindset was a little ridiculous. In fact, it led him to set out a list of things I had to do before he would marry me. (Even though we were already engaged and had a wedding date set) The list was mostly a joke, but he had good and serious intentions behind it.

Let me give a few examples—

  1. I had to drive his Mustang. Doesn’t sound too bad, huh? I’ll tell you, it was scary for me. When we were leaving Orange City’s Town Square Coffeehouse after taking engagement pictures, he handed me the keys. Did I do it? You bet. But the gas pedal is touchier than my 1998 Buick and the ride was anything but smooth.
  2. I had to cut his hair. There was a little more at stake for this one. If I accidentally cut too much, EVERYONE would see it for a few weeks. Did I do it? No. But I did use clippers to clean up the back of his neck, so I’d say that’s close enough.
  3. I had to put my hair up—pulled back and away from my neck—to expose my entire face. I’ve been intimidated by this idea since I was a little girl. I have weird fears, I know. Did I do it? Yes. But it only stayed up for a few seconds after I turned red in the face and started sweating up a storm of anxiety and embarrassment.

To tell the truth, the list hurt my feelings. It frustrated me. It forced me to face something I’ve struggled with for years—a lack of confidence, and a resulting fear of failure.

Was I scared to brush my teeth in front of him? No, that example had different, sentimental reasoning behind it. But the items on the list put me out of my comfort zone. I was terrified to try new things in front of Conner. He told me he didn’t care how great I was—he just wanted me to be confident. Confident in myself and willing to risk failure.

My confidence has grown over the past five months of marriage, but I have so far to go. Decorating our apartment stressed me out to tears because I wanted to live up to his mom’s decorating style. I still get nervous trying new recipes, because I want to prove myself as a wife. It’s something that we are working through together. I’m thankful for his patience, encouragement, and tough love when I need it.

I failed as a girlfriend, as a fiancée, and already so many times as a wife. Thank the Lord for a confidence-inducing husband who picks me up, kisses me on the forehead, and shows love-filled grace every time I fail.

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