Our greatest challenges: one year later

Unlike the other posts in our challenges and triumphs series, I (Sam) will be the only one writing this one. The window of time we had to post this didn’t allow Ray enough time to get his thoughts compiled. This is the second part to the post: Triumphs: one year later.

Challenge 1: Adjusting to each others’ schedules

Routine. At times it can be monotonously boring, but most of the time it can be the one thing that makes our lives sane. From the beginning of our marriage we’ve sought to establish routines in various aspects of our lives: goal setting, biblical togetherness, weekend quality time, and so on. Kenya can be an extremely unpredictable place, so as much as is possible, we try to maintain a certain level of sanity by keeping whatever we can nailed down.

When Ray was working in Nairobi city, we lived in Rongai – a sort of suburb of Nairobi, I knew that he would be getting up around 5am so that he could catch a matatu early enough to keep from getting stuck in traffic. A trip that should take 20 minutes can end up being two hours if you don’t time it right. Because Ray knows the general ebb and flow of the city and appropriately planned around it, I always knew he would be in the city all day and come home around dinnertime. Whenever Ray knew something would delay him, he made sure to call and let me know so I could plan accordingly. We had a sweet little system going on.

That was our routine. That kept me sane.

Then his office moved from the city to Rongai which meant he’d be closer, he wouldn’t be away from home as long, and I didn’t have to worry about his safety as much (during that time Kenya was experiencing an alarming number of public attacks by Al-Shabbab, and Nairobi was a major target). Before Ray went to work at his new location, we went over what our new schedule would be and we both agreed that it would be better for us.

For a while it was.

Then the time came when a filming opportunity landed in our laps, and it thrust us into plans for starting our own business. As our home-grown business began to expand and his responsibilities at his other job decreased, he started staying around the house longer.

We share a laptop, and normally when he’s gone I’m on the laptop doing work (writing, transcribing, researching, etc.). Most days when I would wake up, he would still be home on the laptop and either wouldn’t go to the office until the afternoon or wouldn’t go in at all. As far as he was concerned, he was working from home too.

That had me all sorts of screwed up. We hadn’t planned this! That was supposed to be my time! Now because he was home there was an expectation that I would make breakfast or lunch for him and engage in conversation, when I was used to just going to the closest duka to buy mandazi to snack on while I worked. As much as I enjoyed the fact that I could spend more time with my husband, it wasn’t part of the original plan, and trying to balance work and a daily schedule that changed on a daily basis was really frying my brain.

That was a huge point of contention when we lived in Nairobi the first year, but even now that we’re in Kitale and around each other all the live long day, we’re having the same issue. We’re having to come up with new routines. We’re about halfway there. We’ve established when each person is to have their quiet time and when we have ours as a couple, and we also have tried to set times for the laptop so that he uses it until I wake up, and I use it throughout the night (I usually go to sleep when he’s waking up).

As for what happens between that… we’re still working it out.

Challenge 2: Resolving Conflict

Every couple argues, and life in the Wasike household is no exception. We have had our fair share of disagreements. Be the reason emotions, culture, negative attitudes, or just flat out stubbornness and pride, we typically find ourselves coming to the same conclusion: there is no conclusion.

See, what happens is when we find ourselves in the midst of a disagreement, things tend to escalate to the point of me shouting or becoming a little too sharp with my tongue, and Ray shuts down. He hates it when I raise my voice and it hurts him to be on the receiving end of some of the snide remarks I make, so generally when we reach that point he’ll stop talking or I’ll run out of words (it happens sometimes) and we’ll go our separate ways.

A few weeks or even months later, what do you know? The issue is back in our faces and the cycle repeats. We’ve since discovered, closer to the latter part of our first year, that the culprit behind the cycle is the fact that once we cooled down, we never closed the case. We allowed each other to state our closing arguments, but we never agreed on a verdict.

Truth of the matter is, our arguments don’t have to reach a fever pitch in order for us to forget that the issue hasn’t been resolved. Even if it’s over something small, sometimes we both share our opinions and we mistake the other person’s “Yes, I hear what you’re saying; that does make sense” for “Yes, you’re right. You’re always right. Let’s do what you want.” Then when the time comes for the matter we argued about to come to fruition, we realize that we both came away from the conversation with different ideas about our game plan.

Even in our second year of marriage, we’re still finding this to be an issue, so we have to make sure that after an argument, once we’ve both cooled down, one of us comes to the other and says, “Okay, so what are we going to do about this? What’s our conclusion?” Usually I let Ray be the one to state the final conclusion because frankly I do enough talking during arguments, and he needs to feel like he has a voice and the final say so in matters.

He’s really good about coming up with the resolution based on what we both brought to the table, so he usually gets no objections from me, but even if I have objections, I’m learning how to know when to let go. I don’t always have to win, the humble voice of the Holy Spirit is whispering “Actually, you never have to win.” I’m recognizing that sometimes I can be so concerned with being right that I can beat a point to death and do a number on my husband’s emotions as well.

What matters is that we’re in agreement, and the more I learn to humble myself, the better chance we’ll have of that being a reality in our marriage.

 

Triumphs: one year later

Last month as Ray and I were sitting outside enjoying the fresh air, greenery, and exotic bird calls in the warm Kitale sun – a pleasant contrast to life in Nairobi – I opened my journal and came across some personal notes from our counseling sessions with Norm and Jen Jennings last year at At Stake Ministries.

Before I continue, let me just say that if you’re looking for biblical based marital counseling in the Salina area, they’re amazing. We did a three day, fifteen hour intensive course with them at a time when we were fighting all the live long day, and meeting with them brought that season of our marriage to a screeching halt. They really taught us how to understand one another, and to this day we still refer to a number of the resources they gave us. Great people. Great project.

Okay, so back across the pond to Kitale. We spent the afternoon going through our notes and reviewing how far we’ve come this past year of marriage when it dawned on us that we still haven’t posted our challenges and triumphs blog… not that anyone was waiting with bated breath for it or anything, but we still need to follow through with what we said we’d do, so here’s the first installment.

Triumph 1: Eliminating irrational fears

S’ambrosia

One of the exercises we were given during counseling was to write down all the fears we had about marriage, and good Lord did we have a lot to write! Most of what we wrote stemmed from insecurities, misconceptions about each other and marriage in general, and a lack of trust. It also didn’t hurt that the day the Jennings sent us off to lunch to complete this exercise we were already mad at each other. Neither of us held back.

Looking over those lists last month allowed us to really see how much trust and love has developed between us over this past year. Those fears that felt so overwhelmingly real in the first few weeks of marriage, now have either disappeared altogether or dwindled down to nearly nothing. We still have a few issues that we’re working through, but boy did it feel good to be able to cross the majority of those fears off the list.

Ray

When we got married we were given a lot of bad information about what marriage, specifically intercultural marriage, would look like for us. I’m not going to go into the details since we already did a blog on that a while ago, but I will touch on one area that was my worst to overcome.

I heard from other Kenyans that in the States couples divorce a lot, and most of the time they divorce over some things that we Africans would call petty. For a long time I was afraid that she would leave me for the smallest thing, but what I know for sure now is that my wife is not like that. Yes we argue, but having been married for more than a year and seeing how tight we have become through it all, the only thing I can say is MAZE NI GOD! From the beginning of our relationship we said Jesus would be the center of our marriage, and no matter what we encountered, we always looked to His example. That, my friends, kept me going.

Triumph 2: Staying out of ministry for the first year

S’ambrosia

To some this one may not seem like it should be in the triumph category, but if you know me you’ll understand why that is a triumph. Before we came to Kenya we were warned that ministry would be a strain on our marriage. This is a warning we took seriously. We’ve seen marriages crumble under the demands of ministry, and we knew that adapting to life in a third world country wouldn’t be easy for me, so we decided to remove certain stressors that could prove to make things more difficult than they needed to be.

I’ve been involved in ministry ever since the day my parents said yes to the call to be pastors, and I’ve gone nonstop until the day we got married. I honestly can’t think of a season in my life where I haven’t been in a leadership position in ministry. Ray and I both knew that we were called to ministry, but we also knew that we risked making the marriage about ministry, and that’s not a good foundation for any couple. I mean, if the ministry goes, what do you have left to stand on? For that reason we decided to take the first year of marriage off of ministry and focus on building our marriage, getting to know each other better, and learning how to walk with God as a couple before we do it as partners in ministry.

Though we weren’t directly involved in ministry we did take every Sunday to pray about what God would have us do the following year, so it wasn’t like we totally blew off our call for a year. We prayed, fasted, and planned. Now that the year is over and we’re in Kitale, we’re ready to hit the ground running.

Ray

“If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” Deut 24:5

This has become one the biggest foundational scriptures for our marriage. My wife had been in full time ministry for like the entirety of her adulthood. On the other hand I was in ministry but not full time like her, so I was really anxious to know how she would deal with it. The moment we stepped off the plane she started getting on my case about music, worship, orphanages… blah, blah, blah. Trust me, the list was endless.

I tried to help her make the transition in one way or the other, and gave her some leeway to sing specials at a few churches and volunteer at an orphanage, but as I did that I kept on reminding her about what the first year was all about. After some time it got to a point where I got worried that maybe she was backsliding, lol, she really struggled with this, but in the end we were able to abide by this for better part of the year.

We thank God because we recently got back to mission field, and I cant wait to see what this new year has in store for us.

Until next time …

I have a bad habit of saying “I’ll break this up into parts” and then I never follow through, but hopefully sometime soon we’ll get the challenges blog posted… right after I post the next interesting facts blog and the inner healing stuff and so on and so forth.

Oh, and pssst. Check out the sidebar —>

We’re raising money for a keyboard we need for The Joshua Blueprint. We’ve started working with the kids at Mattaw Children’s Village twice a week, and with vocal lessons and piano instruction coming up it would be a phenomenal help. Check it out and help us spread the word. We don’t have much time left!

Much love,