The Process of Marrification

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“I’d rather you not touch my shower towel, okay?”

I quizzically glanced at my new husband, Ted. My freshly washed hands frozen in mid-air, just inches from his towel.

Was he being serious? After all, he did have dry humor down to an art. This wouldn’t be the first time he’d fooled me into believing he was earnest about something I found strange.

I waited for the mischievous sparkle in his eyes. Nothing. Nope, not even a mild twinkle.

“Um…okay.” I replied, quickly drying my hands on my pj pants.

I wasn’t sure what the big deal was. It was just a towel, right? And it wasn’t like I was some random person in his bathroom. I was his wife. His wife with clean hands, I might add. If I had caught him drying his hands on my towel back in those days when we had “his” and “her” bathrooms, I wouldn’t have cared. Plus, if my memory served me correctly, wasn’t this the man I’d found using my toothbrush on a recent trip? A toothbrush was way more intimate than a woven piece of fabric, if you asked me.

Yet instead of disrespecting and ridiculing what seemed to me no big deal, I decided to honor Ted’s request. So I bit my tongue, withheld the sarcastic comments that threatened to flow, and for years did not even brush my fingers across his towel…that is except on those days each week he abandoned it to the laundry basket for one of its cleaner siblings.

I won’t say it was exactly easy, though.

Every time I walked into his favored bathroom, there it was–his towel. His precious. Tempting me to dry my hands on it: “Ted’ll never know,” it whispered. When I resisted, it taunted me with its exclusiveness: “Your fingers aren’t worthy enough to even brush against me.”

Bathroom trips left me feeling like I was trapped in the Twilight Zone…or a very weird episode of Sesame Street. You know, one where inanimate objects suddenly break into Broadway tunes.

I look back at our years of Ted’s off-limit towel and I’m reminded of an important truth: Marrification–0r growing into the united state of marriage–takes time. In many ways it’s like the spiritual process of sanctification. That process Webster’s defines as “the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment.”

You see, I didn’t instantly become more like Jesus just because I decided to surrender my life to him. It was and continues to be a process that requires steady, consistent, purposeful growth. The same goes for marriage. Saying “I do” didn’t magically transform Ted and me–two once-single people–into a couple ready to instantly share everything, including shower towels. It is and continues to be a process that requires steady, consistent, purposeful growth.

And that’s okay. If God can have patience with me as I steadily change, shouldn’t Ted and I have the same patience with each other?

So that’s the gift I gave Ted when it came to his shower towel: time. Time to allow his single self to die. Time to slowly, but surely, merge our two persons together. And it hasn’t been confined to simply towels. It’s extended to lots of areas in our marriage. The time Ted gave me to get over the shock of him using my toothbrush, for example, on those occasions he forgot to pack his.

I’m happy to report that trips to the bathroom are no longer traumatic for me. Thankfully, over the course of eleven years, Ted has lightened up. A lot.

Sure, he still prefers I don’t dry my hands on his towel–and yes, I still honor that–but if I happen to touch his towel, he no longer goes Gollum on me. If fact, there have been days in our now shared bathroom where one of us forgets to replace the towel they’ve discarded for washing. When this happens, we end up using the same one. In days past it would have made Ted gasp. Now he simply laughs it off.

*Photo by bagaball under CC License.



About

Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together (Moody Publishers). As the founder and editor of the webzine Ungrind and a regular contributor at several popular blogs and websites, she unites the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage couples. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. To learn more, visit AshleighSlater.com.


  • http://workingkansashomemaker.com Nicole Beard

    What a humorous example! I love how simply you stated in the post – God does have so much grace with us, and still loves us and guides us patiently. We should definitely mirror this in our marriages.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Thanks, Nicole!

  • http://www.betamotivation.com Kola

    I looove this! Oh I can definitely see this being a process for me

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Thanks, Kola!

  • Parul Bhargava

    I’m still single and reading this is making me realise what it can mean to be “really” married! A brilliant read! 🙂

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Thanks, Parul! I’m glad you found it helpful. 🙂

  • http://www.randiperezhelm.wordpress.com Randi

    Ashleigh,
    I’m laughing because my husband feels the same way about his towel!!! I love the word “Marrification”. It’s so important to know from the start that building unity is something that involves time and experience. We get married but marriage is something that grows with time. I love being reminded of this today!

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Randi, good to know Ted’s not the only one! 🙂 And I wish I could say I’m the first to use the term “marrification,” but I’m not. I love the word too!

  • Woody

    Very good article, and practical application of God making one flesh work together for His glory. My wife and I have been married for 20+ years, and we constantly have to overlook little things that drive a person crazy. The longer you’re married, the longer you realize it’s not about you, but your spouse and above all Jesus!

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Thanks, Woody! Congrats on 20+ years of marriage — that’s something worth celebrating!

  • Cindy Killingsworth-Henderson

    Ashleigh,
    Thank you for this article. I’m 56 and newlywed. The whole concept of marrification is strangely so new to me. Two failed marriages, and about 12 years of the very determined single life had made me almost bitter. After working on it, my attitude, my will, and surrendering it all to God, (I thought), I was ready to try again. As of almost five months ago, I’m married again for the third time. Supposedly so much wiser, and in tune with God’s divine leadership. But, wow…I’m discovering things about myself I didn’t dream was a part of my character or personality. I can be so sarcastic, unyielding, independent, and just plain stubborn. I’m still going to need prayer and work on my ideas, feelings, and unrealistic perceptions, however articles like this give me so much insight, and make me realize…it’s not all about me, or just my happiness. We two are one now. It’s a choice we make, yes, and must continue to make everyday. LOL Right now in my case, one I must make sometimes several times a day. Anyway, again thank you.
    Cindy

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Cindy, thanks for sharing so vulnerably with me. I’m glad my words are helpful to you as you start your new marriage. I pray that your relationship will be marked by increasing unity.

  • Ryan D.

    Thank you for understanding Ted and being patient. I am a Ted. I can go Gollum on my wife at times. Awesome analogy btw, haha. Maybe I can lighten up a bit on everything. After-all my towels are now her towels. My flesh is her flesh. I am a work in process. But, I pray to speed it up by chilling out. I am thankful for the patience of my dear wife and for your article. Bless you

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Ryan, thanks for your comment. Ted will be glad to know he’s not the only one who can go Gollum at times. 🙂

  • Belind a Sanchez

    Ashleigh
    I was laughing to like Randi was due to it was Me saying “don’t touch my towel Please”,you have your own ( and I have lots of towels) and he would always use mine… and he would forget the tooth brush when we travel,( also have like 10 of them always buy them when we have company and they would forget I was ready) and he would say you kiss me all the time, I would say that’s different..
    love how you use the word “Marrification–0r growing into the united state of marriage”
    yes a lot of prayers and lots of changes in my life and placing GOD the center of our Marriage I have a different attitude, and plus we laugh about it now….

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Hi Belinda, I’m glad you could relate too! 🙂

  • Cynthia Rains

    I loved this! My husband is in Heaven now almost 4 years after an accident. I would love to have him share my towel and tooth brush again, but I could not wish him out of Heaven to this old world of evil and suffering.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Hi Cynthia, I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for reminding me today to appreciate and savor this time of shared towels and toothbrushes.

  • Debbie

    I:ve been with my husband now for 35 years. Such a sweet relationship now but not always. It took about 4 -5 years to get to the marrification stage, but praise God we made it. I couldn’t imagine life with anyone else. God is so good and can turn the most unstable marriage into a real ;blessing. Thank you for the greet article and the reminder that really all of life is made much more “tolerable” if we surrender all to God and follow his plan for us. Again thank you.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Debbie, congrats on 35 years. That’s something to celebrate!

  • Cynthia Rains

    Thank you, and you’re welcome. Enjoy and appreciate every day with him, make lots of memories, and don’t take him for granted. We never know when it will be the last time for anything. If I had known the last evening when I left the hospital that those were the last words we would speak, the last hug and “good night”, I never would have left! You just never know what is coming.

  • Tamara

    See, I started to share this article with my husband until I got to the part about being ok with sharing toothbrushes and stuff. I don’t mind sharing but for me, there are boundaries. I don’t want to share my toothbrush or my nose spray or my Bath and Body Works bubble bath. I feel like it’s ok to have things that personally belong to me and yet there’s a lot of other things I don’t mind sharing. My husband on the other hand, has a hard time with boundaries and lives by “what’s yours is mine” and I agree with this theory to an extent. I commend others who are able to share everything and anything but I’m just not there and I’m not entirely sure I will ever be, mainly because for me some of it has to do with hygiene. I understand we share germs in many ways but I can’t deal with someone else’s mouth on my toothbrush or someone else’s nose juices on my nose spray…as far as the bubble bath, I admit that’s probably a little selfish and I ask y’all to pray for me about stuff like that.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Hi Tamara. Just to clarify, I agree that there are boundaries that are okay. I’m not advocating that spouses need to share EVERYTHING … including toothbrushes. Ted and I don’t. We’re all for having our own personal toothbrush. Ted has only used mine a couple times in our marriage. I’m just encouraging spouses to be patient with each other as we work toward unity in our marriages. Maybe that means for some that they do share a towel or toothbrush from time to time, but it doesn’t mean that characterizes every husband-wife relationship.

  • Renae Rogers

    This is actually the second time my husband and I have been married. We got married for the first time in 99 and divorced in 04. The one thing that kept us together through the years was our kids we have two boys 14 and 12 now. After reading this I can see the many “mistakes” made the first go around. Now 9 years later those things that at the time seemed a big deal we tend to laugh at. I had this idea of what a marriage should be like and it wasn’t up to my expectations and I took a lot for granted, not realizing those are the very things that put the wedge between us. I went into the marriage thinking this is going to be great and it is going to be easy all we have to do is love each other. I am not saying marriage isn’t great or it cant be easy but it takes work. Not just from one person but from both. I guess God had something to teach both of us that together we could not have learned. The things that use to bother me no longer bother me I guess I can say I have grown up. One thing we both have learned is that it takes two to make or break a marriage we have to learn to own up to our own short comings. This shows us humility and devotion to the other. I have never stopped loving my husband even though we both did remarry. We really prayed hard on the reuniting of our family. We wanted to make sure that this is really what God wanted for our family. I would never change anything that happened in the events leading up to this. For if I did change it I would not have grown into the christian mother and wife I am today. For my husband he feels the same way. In order to make a marriage work in a society that takes marriage so nonchalantly God has to be placed first in the relationship. It wont work any other way. I am not saying that we dont have issues to this day but instead of jumping and pointing fingers we are actually able to sit down and talk about them and pray together about them. I want to show my boys who will eventually be men how God intended marriage to be. My husband has taken the lead to show them how to treat a woman and give her the respect she deserves. My part in this is to show my sons how a wife is to treat a husband. In the beginning it is the small things that lead to dysfunction in the house. If we learn to compromise and communicate from the start it will make the marriage so much more strong. Thank you so much for sharing this with us and allowing me to share my story …… Renae Rogers….. God Bless all

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Renae, thanks for sharing your story and what God has been teaching you about marriage!

  • http://millennialsforchrist.wordpress.com Justin Joseph

    Makes me think of Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Easy to say, hard to do with a selfish heart.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Justin, thanks for sharing that verse. How applicable!

  • Javier Taylor

    Nice article! I am reminded of my “off-limits” math notebooks, my wife Crystal will find ways to leave a little note in them. Marriage has been 25 years of the adventure of a life time! As you said it is a wonderful picture our relationship with Christ.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Javier, thanks for sharing about your “off-limit” math notebooks. Fun story!

  • Bruce Garner

    While I truly appreciate the fact that you felt like you grew and matured into this relationship, I’m not sure I see the same in your husband. Marriage is a partnership. It probably would have made a world of difference and speeded along the process of marrification if you had gently and kindly pointed out to him that he had used your toothbrush. Men can be dense. I know….I am one. I’ve learned much through the gentle teaching of women friends about how I should relate to women. I guess I’ve known too many men who felt their role in the marriage was to direct and order their wives to do things rather than share in the learning and the journey. We’ve raised too many generations of men who still view women as their property in some sense of the word. Gentle and kind training helps teach…..pretty much anyone.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Bruce, thanks for taking the time to comment. Since the toothbrush wasn’t the central issue in this story, I didn’t delve into that too much in this article. But it was something we talked about and I shared my preferences on. All of that’s to say, Ted using my toothbrush was an exception in those early days, not a habit then or one he’s continued today. I can’t remember the last time he’s done that. It’s been years and years.

  • Natasha

    Here’s another good example of marrification.
    A husband will give the heel of a bread or toast to his wife many
    a mornings. After several years later, this subject came up inside
    the counseling room why he keeps giving her the worst part of the
    bread. To her surprise, the heel of the bread in his family were
    considered the best piece of the whole loaf.
    Not saying anything can be just as harmful as saying hurtful
    words.
    His paradigm and yours are not always alike.
    Communicate in love with your spouses just like you would
    commune with the Holy Spirit in your heart and you will be so
    blessed for it.

    • Angela

      It’s so refreshing to see an article with a positive and insightful message, then see awesome responses that are also so helpful and build upon the article so well. I got just as much inspiration from these responses as I did from the article, and that’s a totally cool thing 🙂 <3 Thanks everybody! God bless you!

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Thanks, Natasha!

  • Maria

    I really enjoyed not only the story but all of the comments. As a soon to be bride I look for all the wisdom I can for a successful marriage that I never achieved in the past. Two becoming one gives me alot more meaning after reading this. Thank you!
    Maria

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Maria, I’m glad both the article and the comments encouraged you!

  • Anne

    You have to make a choice when you get married, to choose to overlook offenses. It is always a choice, and you have to determine in your heart ahead of time, so when it happens you are ready to have the right response.
    There are times you make an appeal and talk things out, but remember there are so many things our husbands overlook in our lives.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anne!

  • Evelyn L Hunter

    I can relate to the story. Although my husband and I have been married for 45 years, I hesitate drying my hands on his towel. I use the bathroom in our bedroom for showering and keeping my girlie things in. The bathroom he uses is our main bathroom, which I occasionally use. I guess my feelings about his towel are just weird because the main bathroom is the one guests use, and they probably dry their hands on his towel. There is a towel hanging up next to the sink purely for decoration, and they might use that one.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Thanks for sharing thoughts from your marriage, Evelyn!

  • Dawn

    I really enjoyed your story and can appreciate ” marrification”! It’s all helpful but I have to say I even more enjoyed reading the comments that followed. Cindy and Cynthia shared some comments along with your story that truly hit home. Thank you everyone I now have new things to think about before I react or speak out if turn I my own marriage! God Bless!!!

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Dawn, I’m glad you were encouraged not only by the article, but by the comments too!

  • Katydid

    Oh, yes…there is quite an adjustment. Although, if my hubby used my toothbrush, I’d throw it away. He chews tobacco.

    • http://www.ashleighslater.com Ashleigh Slater

      Katydid, as I mentioned to a few others, sharing a toothbrush isn’t something Ted and I are in the habit of doing. It’s just happened a few times… and something we can joke about now. 🙂

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