I still find Eugene Peterson’s introduction to his series, Eat This Book, to be fascinatingly accurate. If you have not heard the series, I recommend it for a good dose of humility for all the certainty afloat about the Scriptures. Even more, I find his opening illustration to be an appropriate double entendre. It is not just about the Bible, but about marriage.
Peterson remarks that he has been married to his wife for fifty years. He assesses with, “I know my wife better than I have ever known my wife.” He then repeats his statement that he has been married to his wife for fifty years. He adjusts his assessment, “I don’t know my wife any better today than I did those years ago.” While the lecture series applies to his ongoing relationship with reading the Bible, I find his marriage illustration to be spot on. And, not in a catty, frustrating sort of way. But, in a way that really opens up possibilities that there is always more to know about another human being.
Patty and I met in high school. We often hung out with friends both at school and at church. We married while I was in college. Now, thirty-one years later I find the phrase, “still getting to know you,” a compliment rather than a criticism. Yes, some of you may think I am slow on the uptake. But, I think not.
Spouses often use the phrase, and here I am guilty, “I know you.” Which really means, “I know what you are thinking, what you mean, what you intended, what [you fill in the blank].” These statements arise when there is a sense a situation needs to be controlled, or at least one spouse is trying to mitigate against coming off as not-knowing.
There is another way to understand this relational circumstance. When we take the tact to suggest how much we know a person we are really treating said person like an object, rather than as subject. Claiming to know the other actually brings both boredom and manipulation. You know how it is when you feel as though you have exhausted a subject, there is little motivation to stay with it. Something else, or someone else, will become the object to be known. But, if we treat the other like a subject there is always more to know. And, once we think we know a person, we then may manipulate them by reminding them the bits we know that achieve our agenda. Treating your spouse in these ways seems less a marriage and more relational monopoly.
You would think that after thirty-one years, thirty-five if you throw in our dating years, you could safely say you know someone. And, in some regards you do. It is just that you do not know them exhaustively. If you treat them as if you do it will surely exhaust your relationship.
Patty does not read my blog. It keeps her from really knowing me. But, if by chance she does, and defies what I know of her, this is for her.
I am looking forward to getting to know you more over the next thirty-one years. And, even more, I am excited about the memories we will make that keep us together as deep subjects rather than mutual objects. Our young friend Tripp talked about marriage this way. Marriage is a pledge to love into the future – to always be there not matter what. Thank you for the future that is now our past, the present that we experience, and the future we promised together – even yet unknown to us.