3 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 Mike Gormley, aka “Gomer,” who is hilarious and has been following Jesus Christ seriously since he was 17.
He has struggled with atheism, self-hatred, and a very nerdy persona in a house of athletes and sportsball fans. He is husband to Shannon and father to four insane children who are the delights of his life.
Gomer has been in full time churchy-work for nine years and runs his own side project called LayEvangelist.com and an awkward (his word) and awesome (my word) podcast for young adults, called Catching Foxes.
He is gracious to share three lessons and two tips with us:
How did you meet your wife?
I met my wife on a warm summer morning at Franciscan University of Steubenville. She was a returning Masters student and I was a young and naive undergrad unsure about the ways of the world. She was leading morning stretches for the Resident Assistants before we all did those lame Team Building exercises. I just remember seeing her in all her workout attire and saying, “Wow. I got to get to know her.”
And when did you get married?
We got married about seven years after we met. I’m an awesome husband, but a terrible dater. I’m the worst. I have a string of ex-girlfriends that would all agree. Count yourself lucky, Arleen, that we can’t date! Crazy thing is, I had broken up with Shannon (again) and tried to win her back (again). She wasn’t going for it. But eventually I wore her resolve out and she accepted my proposal(s). We married in 2009 in St. Louis to the sound of Canon in D and a thousand “About time’s.”
What’s one lesson you’ve learned in marriage:
There is no such thing as the perfect wedding. The moment you stop fighting to have the perfect wedding is when you can start having a great wedding! It’s all about wine and friends and dancing. Let people have their crazy celebrations. Let your family use it as an excuse to have a family reunion. Let your college buddies do the same. The point remains: go as cheap as possible in order to celebrate with as many people as possible!
And a second lesson you’ve learned in marriage:
My wife is not me! She likes crappy music (that somehow I start liking), she’s orderly, clean, and organized. She keeps to a schedule and plans not just her day, but her week. She’s a lioness and I am… well, none of those things. So her strengths become an irritant to me when I want to be all prideful and they become a source of life and beauty when I am humble and love her. Marriage is made by God and not Xerox, and God delights in beautiful collisions of variety!
And a third lesson you’ve learned in marriage?
I have a bunch of kids. It is a struggle to love my wife more than my kids, but if I do not put her first before them, I do not think I will be loving them the way that I should, which is with her and even through her. Kids demand so much attention and are so needy, but the way to grow in your love with one another is to both shoulder the load, and to do so with a humor about it all. “Look honey! We’re going to ruin their little lives with our craziness. But it’s our craziness!”
What’s one tip you’d give to single readers?
“Do not arouse, do not stir up love before it’s time.” -Song of Songs. I get it: loneliness sucks, especially if your friends are all dating and marrying at once, but do not rush love. What will happen is you will replace love with romance, and anyone can be romantic for a certain period of time. And you will be tempted to lower your standards, and Gospel morality, when you are in this rushing mode. God loves you as you are right now.’
And a second tip for single readers?
Do not define your worth by your lack of being married, nor by your career achievements in the world. Some traditional cultures have made an idol out of married and child-bearing, and women get the brunt of this shame. Modern cultures and societies tend to the idol of careerism, or prosperity, or worldly success, which are typical male idols. Neither satisfy! Give your life wholly over to the one Lord, Jesus Christ, in a radically intimate way and do not let another idol permission to enter. Define yourself by the Cross and Resurrection instead of the silly things this world exults.