3 Lessons and 2 Tips from Edmund Mitchell.

1452436_10201066878489833_283328813_n3 Lessons and 2 Tips is a series of interviews in which some of my favorite people (and probably some of yours) share three lessons they’ve learned by being married, plus two tips for single people.

This edition features Edmund Mitchell, a writer, speaker, and founder of ReverbCulture.com, a community of young adults living the Catechism. He writes about obsessions at edmundmitchell.com and writes and podcasts more formally at Reverb Culture. Excited he agreed to share some lessons and some tips:

AS: How did you meet your wife?

EM: This attractive girl who was a friend of a friend but whom I had never met sat down with us for dinner in the cafeteria junior year of college:

“Danielle, nice to meet you.”
“I’m Edmund. Where are you from?”
“Oh.” (trying to be interested in her and also trying to make a joke) “So, do you own a gun?”
[Awkward silence]
The rest is history.

I was and still am attracted to Danielle because she intimidates and challenges me, she is confident about what she stands for, and she is a softy like me deep down. Plus she’s gorgeous and fun to be around. She also needs me to make her laugh. (We were married on) May 28, 2011.

AS: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in marriage?

EM: Some things you can never take back once you’ve said them. You can apologize until you are blue in the face, but you can’t go back in time and ctrl+z what was said.

AS: And a second lesson?

EM: If you don’t schedule it on the calendar, it’s not real. As a youth minister, this was a hard lesson to learn. Time management becomes huge when another person is counting on you to get your crap done and spend time with them. It also matters because you can go two years thinking “I really want us to start going on more dates soon” and never actually get around to doing it. If you don’t schedule your day/week/month out beforehand, someone or something else will schedule it for you. If you start the month off by marking down Tuesday as date night or Friday as sit-down-and-talk-finances night, you are 200 times more likely to get it done.

AS: And a third lesson?

EM: Another time management tip I learned the hard way. (Can you tell I struggled with this?) Youth ministers shouldn’t work more than 50 hours a week. Period. No excuses. Parkinson’s Law says “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

I’m a lot more productive when I say I MUST leave the office today by 3 p.m. than when I say “I have so much to do; once I get enough done, I’ll go home.” That’s why Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, goes home at 5:30 every day.

With whatever job you do, set boundaries for the various sectors of your life. “I should be spending no less than X amount of time with my family. I should be spending no more than X amount of time at work. I should be spending X amount of time praying. I should be spending X amount of time doing something for myself that recharges me.” My marriage got a lot healthier and more fun once I set boundaries.

AS: What’s one tip you’ve got for single people?

EM: Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to date and make that relationship work. Date lots of people. Don’t call it dating. Just go out for coffee with a guy/girl and get to know him or her better. Vocations grow out of a slow building of intimacy and trust. The ideal situation is that a vocation to marriage would gradually and naturally grow out of a friendship. No “Will you be my girlfriend? Check YES or NO” letters. No pressure of “Are we dating? Are we exclusive? Do I smell?” Be yourself because you can’t keep up a charade for long in a marriage. Then pay attention to who sticks around, who brings out the best in you, and if you can see yourself marrying (laying your life down for) that person.

AS: And another tip for singles?

EM: When you’re discerning marriage with somebody, talk about the hard stuff early and lay down a foundational understanding that marriage will be hard and a long process of growth for both of you. You’re in this for the long haul and sometimes you might feel like the only thing keeping you going is the fact that you made a promise to God to stick with this person no matter how much bleeding and tears it takes. Your marriage is God’s way of bringing a concrete example of unconditional love into the world. It’s also the only way you will become a saint (if marriage is your vocation). Don’t be a jerk, because you’re not perfect either and God should have stopped loving you a long time ago. Good thing His idea of love and mercy is bigger than our own. As my Dad once said: “There isn’t THE book you can read to solve all your marriage problems or help you have the perfect marriage. You write that book as you go.” The cool part he left out is that God helps you write it.

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Connect with Edmund on Twitter @EdmundMitchell.

Click here to read all the posts in this series.