Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When 10,000 Hours is Just the Beginning

Guest Post by Mandi of Messy Wife, Blessed Life:

I have a sewing machine sitting in my bedroom. I got it for Christmas 2012 and I have yet to use it. But if I were to conquer my fear (which I have every intention of doing this summer), dust off the sewing machine and sew every day for the next four years, I would expect that I would be a pretty good seamstress. I’m sure most others would expect that of me as well.

Not that I would be an expert. Nay expertise takes 10,000 hours of practice (or so says Malcolm Gladwell) and to get that many hours in would take nearly 7 hours a day for four years to get to that magic number. I certainly won’t be sewing for 7 hours a day but, surely, by the end of four years, I would be able to make a passable frock in a decent amount of time.

In a couple months, my husband and I will celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. And marriage, well, despite not sewing a stitch, I have a feeling that it’s nothing like sewing. You see, by the time we reach four years, I’ll have spent 35,064 hours as a wife. Three times what it takes to master a skill. And certainly, I’m no marriage expert. In fact, people hear, “We’ve been married four years, “and respond, “Oh, you young foolish couples still so in love.” And I kind of agree with them. It still feels so new. 

What makes marriage so different? Why do couples of 30 or 40 or 50 years still struggle to be good spouses? I’m sure there are psychologists and sociologists and anthropologists that can lay out theories as to why human relationships are so difficult. But, to get to the root of it, I believe it’s simply because marriage is a vocation. And a vocation, be it marriage or consecrated life or the priesthood should never be easy. Because your vocation is your path to heaven, and the path to heaven is not easy.

“For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matthew 13-14)

How likely am I to follow the constricted road to the narrow gate on my own? Certainly none of us are meant to go it completely alone - the Church and our Christian communities, our family and friends should be helping to point the way. But I can say, without a doubt, that I need my husband to help me. Sometimes he knows he’s helping. He’s reminding me to pray the rosary daily or to keep from losing my temper. But often, he’s not really doing anything but being my husband, the person who I have the responsibility - no, the opportunity - to serve and love.

Sometimes, by being a bit of a thorn in my side (what spouse isn’t on occasion?), he’s teaching me to be patient and Christ-like. Thank goodness I’m not married to a perfect person because it is in his imperfection that I am perfected. And maybe I should give myself a little break for not being perfect too, because it’s my imperfection that prepares him for heaven as well. Isn’t that beautiful? Two imperfect people join together through the sacrament of marriage and it’s their very flaws that help to erase the flaws of their beloved.

Over the course of marriage, we’re slowly moving toward heaven together. It’s slow and tiring work, the work of a lifetime, and four years in, we’ve barely started.

Mandi is a 20-something wife and mother who takes her Catholic faith (and not much else) seriously.  She likes to fancy herself a writer and shares the messy adventures of her blessed family at Messy Wife, Blessed Life.  When she’s not blogging, she’s probably sleeping, wrangling a toddler, playing word games, or moving cross country.   

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This post: When 10,000 Hours is Just the Beginning first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 21 May 2014


  1. Beautiful insights, Mandi! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow, Mandi, I love this reflection!

  3. aww I loved this! Simple and very insightful. As in everything, it's so easy to get caught up in thoughts of "why haven't we figured this out yet" in a perfectionist society. But it's just not real. But as a side reflection, I'm going to be thinking all day about the ways I can become an expert at something over the next 4 years.


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