Q&A WITH NICK AND KANAE VUJICIC
Nick, you were worried that you would never find a woman who could love you. How did those insecurities affect your relationship with Kanae? How did she help you overcome those doubts?
All my insecurities were gone out the window as I saw how Kanae looked at me, held me and how we both felt about each other. There is nothing better than a reciprocated love that’s unconditional. After a relationship that did not move onward, I desired to have a bride whose family would welcome me into their family and hearts. The biggest test for us during our courting period was when I went through a personal financial crisis. Seeing Kanae’s commitment to stand by my side no matter what was the most amazing discovery of how deep her love was for me. She looks at me, and I can tell she doesn’t see limbless Nick. Shshsh 🙂
What was the biggest adjustment once you were married? Was there anything you dealt with that surprised you about being married?
There were several adjustments we handled once we were married. My caregivers never slept over anymore and there was the balance of me needing care sometimes but not always and then balancing the fact that I don’t want my wife to assume the role as a caregiver either. I think the biggest surprise was actually seeing what our counselors said was true—that it’s always more about giving than even sharing from a day-to-day basis and that goes for both sides. Also we learned that nothing the counselor could ever tell you can ever completely prepare you for marriage. Lastly, I am reminded daily of what I need to work on in my character as a man to be all that I want to be for her and our son Kiyoshi.
Your son Kiyoshi was born a day after your first wedding anniversary. How did having a baby change your marriage?
It changed everything in such a beautiful and chaotic way all at the same time. Our focus now is not just on each other, but him. I can say nothing ever can prepare you for parenthood. You just jump in with both feet and roll with the punches. It is quick to see what things I can’t handle that Kanae seems to handle quite well. A lot of the responsibility was and is on her as I cannot do most things for him, but as he is getting older we are interacting, playing and reading books together. Kanae and I never thought that we as human beings had the capacity to love someone so much as we love our baby boy. It is a deeper and new dimension altogether that we love. We hope to have more children in the future so that Kiyoshi has a sibling or two.
NICK AND KANAE’S FIVE ROOKIE TIPS TO WORKING AT MARRIAGE
1. SORRY, BUT THERE IS NO COASTING
Whether you got married just months after a brief but intense courtship or you have been in love since sitting next to each other in first grade, there may be a strong temptation to take each other for granted in the first months
2. CONFLICTS WILL OCCUR
You and your spouse may be two peas in a pod, as compatible as peanut butter and jelly, but sooner or later your wedded bliss will be disrupted. The conflict might be triggered by in-law family members or outlaw friends. It may be circumstances beyond your control, or the fact that you refuse to hang up your wet bath towel. Prepare for it by keeping this in mind: Being right isn’t nearly as important as being together. Sometimes you will be the windshield. Other times you will be the bug.
3. YOU MUST ADJUST
Marriage conflicts are inevitable. They only become crises when you don’t make adjustments to resolve them. If you want your marriage to work, we suggest that you simply accept from the start that when conflicts occur—and they will—that the important thing isn’t to win. Instead, you each should identify the problem from your perspective, find common ground, and then agree to make the necessary adjustments.
Sometimes this will mean simply accepting that “it is what it is” and letting go of resentments, anger, and the right to be right. The famous love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that along with being patient and kind, “love…thinks no evil.” Some translations say that it keeps no record of wrongs. That’s the Scripture version of “fuggedaboutit,” as movie mobsters say. In other words, don’t take conflicts personally; use them as opportunities to make your bonds stronger. Let go of hurtful feelings and focus on making the marriage better, not bitter.
4. REMEMBER WHY YOU MARRIED YOUR SPOUSE IN THE FIRST PLACE
I have a friend who, like me, married a younger woman who is also very smart, strong-willed, and not afraid to speak her mind. One day, their college-age son was present when my friend’s wife let him have it for something he’d done that she did not like. After she vented, my friend turned to his son and calmly said with a smile, “Son, this is what comes with marrying a strong woman!” I love this story, because it goes to the core of a married relationship. We choose the people we marry. My friend married a strong woman, and he knew that she would be a strong wife. He was willing to accept that when she had a bone to pick with him, she would not mince her words. He loved her strength, and he accepted it for better and for worse.
When Kanae and I are at odds, I find it very helpful to look beyond the conflict at hand to the woman I fell in love with. Then I remind myself that I vowed to honor her and keep her in good times and bad. Our love is bigger than any disagreements we might have. Our relationship is more important to me than being right or winning an argument.
I also try to step back and think about the fact that I was a very lonely single guy, and this woman has brought more joy into my life than I thought I’d ever know. That attitude, along with prayer, helps me get through the challenging times as a husband.
5. YOU AREN’T IN THIS ALONE
There may be times when you just can’t figure out your spouse. You may not be able to understand why there is a conflict, what you did wrong, or how to get beyond an issue that has put you at odds. In these moments, you may feel that you are all alone. After all, the person you love the most is the same person who is angry with you, right?
These are the times when you reach out for help and support. You could go to your family and friends, but before you do that, ask yourself if you really want to share your conflicts and frustration with them. They may feel it necessary to pick sides, and that can become an issue down the road.
Instead, you might want to consider talking with your minister, a marriage counselor, a therapist, or some other impartial third party with experience in relationship issues. And, most of all, talk to God and ask Him to give you wisdom and strength. In fact, my advice is to pray for His guidance and support each and every day—and maybe more often when you need help with this very important part of your life. Remember that if you can’t change your spouse, God can. But also keep in mind that the person who may need to change could be you, and God will see that before you do!
5 POINT SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE FIRST YEAR OF LIFE WITH A CHILD
1. SHARE YOUR FAITH
2. BE FULLY PRESENT WHEN YOU ARE WITH YOUR WIFE AND CHILD
By “being present” I mean focusing on your loved ones whenever you are around them. If I’m physically with my wife and son, I want to be mentally focused on them as well and not on my cell phone, checking e-mails, texting, or succumbing to all the other distractions of modern life. Lately, I’ve been working on creating better boundaries between my work life and my family life. It’s about being present-minded and engaged in every moment I am with my son and my wife. I turn off my smartphone to give my full attention to my wonderful family. I’ve discovered that my business actually benefits, because when I return to my office, I feel invigorated and more content due to my improved relationships.
3. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
The thing about gratitude is that when you feel it, you should express it, whether you are grateful for something a person has done for you or you are just feeling blessed because of someone in your life. This is especially true of your wife and children.
With reciprocated love, you accept each other as you are, knowing that neither of you is perfect. We all need grace, and we all need to give grace to our partners through understanding, forgiveness, and gratitude. Many couples have difficulty returning to a normal sex life after the birth of a child, particularly the first child. Spontaneity is no longer an option. The lack of sleep, financial pressures, the baby’s erratic schedule, and last but not least, the woman’s physical recovery from childbirth are all disruptive factors in this arena. As common as those issues are, it takes patience, kindness, and consideration to overcome them in the first few months after starting a family. The whole struggle is for the man and wife to join together, to become one as a married couple so that they are considerate and grateful for each other.
4. PUT YOUR FAITH IN ACTION
5. REFRAME THE SITUATION
Love Without Limits by Nick Vujicic, Copyright 2014 Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.