The Truth About Marriage: 1 + 1 = 2



Last week G and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. And I would say it has taken us a good year to understand this simple math equation: 1 + 1 = 2

one of him + one of me = two. That’s TWO people.

You know Christian culture does this funny thing where we talk about and quote the verse at most weddings “and the two shall become one.” But we rarely talk about what does this really mean? Like in practical, day-to-day, life? Because last time I checked there were definitely TWO people who had opinions, TWO people who used dishes, and TWO people who wake up at different times.

So, I’m not sure if I buy this 1 + 1 = 1 stuff. Sometimes I wonder if we have oversimplified this concept and mistaken what it actually means.  Now, before you think I’ve gotten on some heretical bandwagon let me explain.

When we got married I believed that we would become one. You know, share one bank account, one home, one life. And we do most of these things happily, usually. But somehow I believed that being “one” also meant that everything would be “better together.”  I mean that is what Jack Johnson sings, right?

Dinner always together. Morning runs together. Working together. Cooking in the kitchen together. Waking up every morning together.

Imagine my surprise when I realized sometimes we’re not home at the same time for dinner. Or that He prefers to run in the afternoon. Working together brought more initial challenges then sweet, together moments and when our kitchen has only one itty-bitty counter space having two people in there is just plain frustrating.

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Usually Sunday mornings go something like this:

G wakes up. And wakes up hungry. I’d think he’d like it we had a fridge in the bedroom. He cuddles, tries to kiss me and coax me to get up. I moan, roll over, put a pillow over my eyes and fall back asleep. He gets OJ and goes to watch TV. His stomach still churning. 20 minutes later I mope around the house, hair a mess, barely verbal. He says, he’s ready to go. I say give me 10 minutes. I throw on some yoga clothes, hair in a pony tail, check email and apply mascara. He goes outside to wait by the bike. 20 minutes later we leave. He’s starving now and frustrated that I took so long. I’m hurt that he didn’t want to wait for me. I mean why is getting breakfast more important than waiting for me? {I’m not dramatic or anything.}

you can imagine, once we get to our favorite breakfast place neither one of us are in a good mood.

This routine has happened more times than I’d like to admit.

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I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed a year ago, actually on our honeymoon. I should give her proper credit for the 1 + 1 =2 idea. She and her then fiance are in the midst of a visa/marriage nightmare; living in limbo, waiting for word from the US Department of Homeland Security for clearance for her fiance. And in the process they are figuring out how to do life together. Somehow the story and the possible fear hit close to home, but it’s taken me a while to fully understand and figure out what does 1 + 1 = 2 look like for us.

It’s meant some letting go, and remembering who I am/was before I got married. And learning that loving and living with this man, does not in fact mean we have to do everything together.

This Sunday morning we did it well.

G got up early, kissed me good-morning, let the dog out and took his motorcycle to Antigua for breakfast. He got food and coffee all before I even opened my eyes.

I got to sleep in till 10. Yes, no shame in the fact that I love, LOVE sleeping in. I got to stay in my pajamas, drink my smoothie and peruse pinterest without having to hurry.

And you know what he came home happy and full. And I was rested and relaxed.

Maybe sometimes the best way to love someone else and take care of yourself is to create some space.

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I do in fact believe that something unique and special can happen in marriage. However, I’m not sure if it’s some supernatural oneness. For me the unity in marriage comes from wanting someone else’s best. Sometimes I feel most “together” when I know that I have put his needs above my own. And I think he would agree. Maybe what we’re learning is that “better together” can also means wanting someone else’s best whether or not you’re actually together.

And if his best means I don’t make him wait for me to go to breakfast, I don’t what can be more unifying than that.


If you’re married, have you and your spouse worked out a good way to give each other space? What things to do you do apart and what things together? Do you feel like the idea of 1 + 1 = 2 just makes more sense sometimes? Do share.


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7 thoughts on “The Truth About Marriage: 1 + 1 = 2

  1. Absolutely making space is important. I don’t talk when music is happening. He doesn’t talk when I read. It’s ok to take long walks alone or listen to music by yourself. The becoming one is a long time coming but it is begins with the commitment. I think it has most to do with it not being about “me” on both sides - but “us”. That us is one - but not tied at the hip, rather of one purpose and one heart. That takes work and time. The best married oneness are two people who are complete separately sacrificially living to serve each other.

  2. Michelle, as usual, thank you so much.
    This week Bob and I will be assisting a Relationships class at the Haven workshop center in Canada. And one relationship math idea that we use is 1 x 1 = 1. I think that’s saying a lot of what you are saying: our relationship doesn’t work unless I bring all of me to it. Including if I love sleeping in. Your “2” and our “1” both have space for each partner to be all of ourselves, connected, and still separate people-a couple! If people don’t bring all of themselves, the fractions multiply to something smaller. (remember your math?)
    We send you much love, Ruth and Bob

  3. Wendy, I like that. “The becoming one is a long time coming but it begins with a commitment.” Thank you!

  4. Great post Michelle. I totally relate. I’ve been learning a lot about this concept the last couple years too, in the little things in life (which go a long way sometimes) and the big things. I’ve been learning a lot especially as it relates to doing ministry with David. Its been hard for me to accept that I can’t go at the same pace as David, and its ok for me to not do everything and just stay home to rest. I’ve cut back on my involvement in young life over the last couple months, and while it was a hard decision, its actually been really good for us. David feels more supported because I’m letting him do his thing and not holding him back, and i feel more rested and peaceful with more time to myself (and I get to focus on the parts of the ministry I love, mentoring just a few girls). It’s been a long process for me to accept that our strengths are different and we don’t have to do everything the same way or together. I loved hearing your perspective on it, thank you for the encouragement.

  5. 5 years of dating taught us that he wasn’t going to like poetry, and he was not going to be able to get me excited about Math. We knew that much even before we “became one.”

    Our hardest thing actually has been sleeping together…not sex, just sleeping. We don’t sleep well together. We wake each other up…we have different sleep rhythms. We have actually considered getting separate Desi and Lucy style twin beds. I always thought that was the most horrible thing, but sleeping next to a real person every night has taught me the wisdom in old time sleeping arrangements. I’m honestly just more concerned about what people would think if they came in and saw twin beds than anything between us about it…I know it would be a good thing for us, and not hurt our marriage at all.

  6. Hi! I almost forgot why I stopped by. I am offering to send everyone who participated in the first Wherever Wednesday a post card from Texas. If you’ld like one, just send me your address at ecarian at yahoo dot com.

    Thanks so much for making the first Wherever Wednesday a success. The second Wherever Wednesday linky is up…hope you’ll stop by and check out the posts and maybe share one of your own!

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