If you’re married and you haven’t sat next to your spouse with no pants on, watching Brooklyn 99, then you’re missing out. But really.
A few weeks ago Jacob and I were sitting on our couch watching Wall-E and eating snacks. Our window was open and we heard some friends in the parking lot. They yelled up to our second floor apartment asking if we wanted to join them for half-off apps at Applebee’s. We looked at each other, decided it’d be fun, and then yelled back down. ‘Yes, we’ll be there in two minutes! We need to put clothes on.’
By now our neighbors know that when they knock on the door, it will take at least a few minutes for us to answer as we throw on pants and shirts and attempt to look somewhat decent. This is partially because of a lack of air-conditioning and mostly because hanging out in our tiny apartment without clothes on is just plain fun. It’s one of the simple joys of our marriage.
In our first year of marriage, we’ve enjoyed the fun, silliness, and intimacy of being naked together. But the times that have really built our marriage and shaped us to look more like Christ were also moments of nakedness.
When you live with someone and agree to share life with them in marriage, there is nowhere to hide.
When disappointments happen, illness takes hold, expectations aren’t being met, or your priorities are shifted, marriage presents an opportunity to either get naked or hide behind a whole slew of different masks. We have a choice to open up or cover up.
We can choose to hide behind ‘the person we think we’re supposed to be’. Or we can choose to admit that we’re wrong, ask for forgiveness, be honest with our feelings, expose the ugliest parts of our souls, and tell our spouse the truth about who we are and what we want. If we want to be fully known then we have to be fully honest.
Vulnerable, naked, and raw moments of honesty and truly being seen are what marriage is all about. Because those are the moments when life is painful and difficult and everything sucks and yet we have a chance to share and experience that with our spouse. We both take the journey towards becoming more like Jesus together. As rocky, narrow, and slightly-terrifying as that journey may be, we’re traveling it together.
Before we got married, Jacob and I thought we knew each other extremely well. We also thought we were basically the same person. Ha. Wow, we had no idea that we’re actually opposites! Truthfully, we share very similar values and agree on the main ‘big ticket’ items, but we’re still learning to appreciate each other’s differences in the small things. Or what we previously thought were small things.
Turns out that the way you handle stress, how you want to arrange the social calendar, and how much toothpaste you use are actually pretty significant. (Just kidding, toothpaste isn’t that big of a deal 😉 )
In any relationship, not just marriage, we want to be known and loved. I think that marriage just so happens to offer a pretty intense education in being ‘known’ that doesn’t usually happen in other relationships.
In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller writes
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.
In marriage, we have the chance to experience a little glimpse of what the love of Christ is like, if we are willing to expose our souls and get naked with each other. Naked honesty and vulnerability can pave the way for healing in ways that shame and hiding just won’t allow.
Bringing our whole, true selves to the relationship with our spouse gives us both a chance to move towards looking more like Christ.
This ‘nakedness’ in marriage doesn’t happen naturally. Allowing yourself to be fully known requires insane amounts of courage and a lot of difficult decisions. Jacob and I are still learning and we understand that this will be a continual process throughout our marriage. Choosing honesty and vulnerability over hiding, especially when we are hurt or angry or afraid, moves us closer together. I pray that we’ll continue to choose to be naked with each other when hiding seems so much easier.
Thanks for allowing me to be fully known and loved, Jacob. This first year of marriage has been both a beautiful and difficult mess. I am thankful for your gentleness and grace in uncovering the hidden parts of my soul (both the shiny and the grimy). You teach me how to love better and you gently push me towards Jesus. I love you such.
From my head to my toes
I wanna be naked with you
All my faults, all your stars
Who I am, who you are
I wanna be, oh, naked with you, naked with you