Everyone knows that couple that fits perfectly together. The couple that completely deserves one another and makes it obvious to the outside world that they treasure their relationship. Well, meet Stephanie and Jared, a couple we met in college who now lives on the other side of the world in Japan. Obviously, this raised-in-Kansas girl knows something about moving to a new city and keeping it all together! I’m so glad that she gets to share part four of this series about moving, because she has an incredible experience and perspective.
From the other side of the world…
Hi everyone. My name is Stephanie and I agree with Jo: married life rocks. Of course it has its ups and downs but with God at the center of your marriage, He can help you get through even the most difficult times.
My husband Jared and I just celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary this past May. As a young married couple we answered God’s call to move to Japan and serve with a church planting team. We had only been married a year and three months when we moved here and if any of you have gone through a move with your spouse you understand the complications, stresses, and all the tiny details that go along with it: whether you are moving across town or across the ocean.
At that time we were still getting used to living and doing ministry together and on top of that – saying goodbye to extended family, learning a new language, and going through culture shock made for a rough couple of months. Looking back I know we had our moments of anger and frustration where it would have been easy to just close ourselves off from each other, but by God’s grace He brought us through that time and made our marriage even stronger.
What problems and disappointments did you encounter when you moved?
There were two problems in particular that I remember us dealing with on a daily basis, the first problem was the sharing of housework. We had only graduated college three months prior to our move, and I was very much looking forward to having more time to take care of our house, cook meals and bake delicious treats, but the day after our plane landed we were off to language school. Our schooling was five days a week, six hours a day, with three or four hours of homework at night. I had all these dreams of wanting to do “homemaker” things, but I knew that language school was for a season and those dreams would have to wait.
Each night Jared helped me wash and put away the dishes after dinner as well as helping with other household tasks. His help allowed us both to make sure we had time for homework as well as still getting to enjoy a meal together at dinnertime. It meant so much to me that he was willing to help out with those little tasks each day.
The second problem we encountered was an unnecessary spirit of competitiveness. At school teachers and friends were always comparing our language learning ability, and we were constantly correcting each other when we made mistakes. It was a time of great learning but also a time where we learned a lot about humility. There were times where one (usually me) or both of us would get very sensitive and just shut off or not even try to speak the language in front of each other.
I do believe that as a married couple you need to encourage each other, pray for each other, and “spur one other on towards love and good deeds.” (Heb. 10:24) But remember why you are in the situation you are in and who it is about: ours was in a season of learning a language to share with people the good news of Jesus in their native tongue. It wasn’t about me or Jared or who was the better speaker of Japanese. It was for and about Jesus. If you feel a sense of improper competitiveness in your marriage or ministry pray about it and share with your husband or wife how you feel and how you can seek ways to love and serve each other rather than competing for the top prize in a certain area.
I am so glad that Stephanie shared about feelings of competition in marriage, because they can be especially elevated when you move. Who has a job first? Who is making friends faster? Who knows their way around town better? When you’re tired and lonely, it’s easy to feel that way. But that will drive you apart quickly. Take Stephanie’s advice and share your feelings and find ways to put the other first rather than compare and compete.
What encouragement do you have for other couples?
Praying for and with each other is the best thing you can do during a season of transition. Ask God to lead and guide your marriage in your new city, and pray that He would use your marriage as an example to others of what it looks like to have a marriage that honors God.
In Japan, less than 1% of the population is Christian and because of that statistic I know very few Christian married couples. A “Christian” marriage is definitely not normal. One of the prayers Jared and I have consistently prayed since moving here is that our marriage would be a tool used to lead people to Jesus. When people ask us about how we deal with marital issues, how we raise our son, why we go on dates, etc. we have the opportunity to share with them that we serve and love each another with the love and grace that God has show us through Jesus. God glorifying marriages are a powerful thing!
As the years have passed we have learned how difficult living with someone and loving them despite their faults can be. God looks at us and loves us. His love for us spills over in the way we love our spouses. Jared is my best friend and I’ve loved sharing my life with him. God willing we will have many more years to serve in ministry together and continue to grow together as a couple. My prayer for those of you reading this is that you would keep seeking God and as you keep your eyes on Him you will grow into a more loving and servant hearted husband or wife and no matter where you move to in life that God would be your rock in the midst of trials that are bound to come.
Thanks, Stephanie for sharing! Her honest story is such an encouragement of the blessings that come from working hard on strengthening your marriage. It’s not easy, but the life together is worth it!