“Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
– Ephesians 4:13-15
Marriage changes you. It shows you both the best and worst sides of your personality. Having been married for only a year, I by no means consider myself an expert on the subject, but the ways it has grown, stretched, and changed me have impacted every part of my life. In fact, you could say I’m a completely different person because of it.
For this reason, who I was when I first came to Hungary almost three years ago is very different from the person who came back. That Daniel was finishing up school, untried, fairly green, aware but not fully, and unsure how to step into different positions. He was (and to be fair, still is) in the midst of his twenties, navigating all of the typical life changes and introspection characterized by such a transitory decade of life. I knew that returning with a wife would be different, but I had no idea beyond that of joyfully experiencing a place with my best friend. I had no idea how much it would change me from the inside and impact the way I interact with my surroundings.
When looking back on my first years in Hungary, I tend to see them not as a perfect, wonderful time, but as a time of great personal growth. (As a caveat, there were a number of personal family issues that arose during my first stint that really stretched my emotional strength.) This also made it tougher in other areas of my life where I was too tired to keep pushing through when things got tough. Honestly, even learning how to work within an organization was an experience I was not fully expecting, as I came to the field straight from university. In the midst of these challenges and all of the personal growth, I got to be a part of some great teams here in Hungary and learned so much about myself, the world, and ministry.
After about a year and a half of this, I flew back to America to marry my now wife, Amanda, and we lived in the states for about eight months before coming back to Hungary.
This brings me to what it’s like to return to Hungary. I feel like a different person, both mentally and physically, than I was the first time I arrived here and that has changed the experience of landing and settling in.
On the mental side of things, priorities are a tough thing for me to figure out and I’ve always struggled with implementing them well. Originally, when it was just me, I could be fluid and never really had to care one way or another what my priorities were. I knew internally what I wanted and needed and was able to think about how my choices would affect me and even those around me, but I didn’t really need to ever talk them out with anyone, and I was fine with that.
Coming back married means I now have a person I always have to consider first. In marrying Amanda, we became one flesh, so of course she is a priority and I have to consider her thoughts and feelings like my own. However, I’ve realized that even though we are one flesh, that doesn’t mean she is a mind reader. I have to be intentional about informing her what is going on in my life, and also make sure she is on board before moving forward into anything. What surprised me even more, though, was realizing how I needed to learn to prioritize my own health (physical, emotional, and mental) because my unhealth can hurt my wife.
Similarly, returning as a married man has driven home the importance of expectations. In marriage, I have had to learn that when you don’t share your expectations, you just assume the other person will do what you want and problems will arise. This taught me that you have to make sure everyone understands the expectations in any given situation, and when that happens, so many problems can be solved before they even have the chance to start. This realization has changed how I interact with the team and our ministry partners here in Hungary. I believe I’m better equipped to communicate and establish expectations first.
While my mental space has changed quite a bit, what has been more dramatic than I anticipated are the changes in relation to physical space. After living here for about two years, I had well worn paths I would walk and ways of moving to get through large crowds. However, when you have to account for another person, the proximity between people changes. Multiple times, I have either left Amanda behind or I have unintentionally cut her off. While that has caused a few problems, sometimes comical, the ability to come here as a new person, but have the handy familiarity of muscle memory has helped to smooth over a lot of the transition. As a couple, we don’t have to struggle to navigate a brand new city because of my familiarity with this place. I have enjoyed being able to share it with Amanda.
In addition, decision fatigue is real and moving into a new culture and constantly having to translate and acclimate and then make decisions on top of that can be extremely exhausting. But with my prior experience it has also been nice to be able to settle into familiar patterns rather than struggle through the decision of where to get groceries after a long day.
Marriage is not and was not the solution to all of my problems, but marriage seems to have acted as a tangible signal that I’m moving into a new stage of life and that has had a profound impact on my experience coming back to Hungary.
– By Daniel Buck, OMS Hungary Team Member