I remember this couple.
I remember their wedding. It was simple. They laughed a lot. Their smiles were permanently fixed upon their faces. They were happy.
They thought they knew it all.
They will always put the other first. When needed, always be willing to compromise.
They will want to kiss each other everyday, every moment, and it will never get old.
They will put their marriage first in all areas of life, including children, work, and friendships.
When one person is down, the other will not be irritated or offended by their attitude, but will strive to aid their spouse in any way they can to help them feel content and encouraged.
They will never go to bed on bad terms. They will pray every night together and thank God for the gift that is marriage.
I remember that couple.
Then life came, and this couple that had so many ideas and goals plunged into reality.
Because that really is a fantastic word for marriage: reality.
Stress around every corner. Money. Child rearing. Work. Exhaustion. Pulls from society to be a certain way. Temptations lurking around every corner.
This is real. This is sloppy. This is mine.
You would think since I came from a home with a messy divorce I would have given up all ideas of a marriage without struggle and really swung the other way, filled with apprehension, doubt, and yes, even fear if we would make it.
But I didn’t chose those things. Why? Mostly by the drive of never desiring to go through a divorce. It simply has never been an option.
However, the pendulum swung the other way and I, at times, have had expectations and ideas about marriage that get me into trouble. But I have been learning, little by little, that these ideas are false and really destroy my marriage.
1. Marriage for a Christian does not mean an easy pass
(This was my feeling after putting together this Ikea futon.)
Just like a piece of Ikea furniture, just because you have the Manual for marriage (God’s Word), this does not mean it will be easy to piece together and be complete. The language is foreign at times, because God’s ways are simply not our ways. He desires us to give up our wants, desires, and even happiness at times to serve one another. This is not a popular thought. But it’s Bible. And just like when I put that futon from Ikea together with Peter, and I didn’t use the manual, it just wasn’t working out.
We can not succeed without it.
But even when Peter started to use it, we made mistakes. We had to pause, back up, and pick up some new tools.
Being a Christian is not a guarantee of an easy ride in anything in life. Paul warned us of that. So why would we think any different of marriage? It’s a constant struggle.
It’s daily choosing to love one another, even when they are not at their most lovable. Loving them despite the bad breath, pet-peeves, long days, and screaming kids.
2. Marriage is NOT made for your happiness
I remember in the early years of marriage how much of my mood depended upon how well Peter and I were doing. If we were happy as I couple, then I was happy as a person. If we were angry at one another, then I was angry at the world.
The truth is we are putting way too much pressure on our marriage when we demand our spouse to make us happy.
Instead, our sense of happiness comes from the Joy Giver Himself. The freedom and redemption in who Christ is and what He has done should put a tune in our heart. The promises of a glorious day of no more tears, worries, and troubles is a beautiful and happy hope. The simple fact that He first loved me gives me value and purpose. Something that Peter could never fully give me no matter how great of a husband he is.
God, of course, wants us to enjoy our marriage and to experience the blessings that come with it. But when I really remember WHY I said “I do”, well, that is when it all comes into perspective.
I wasn’t just saying it to Peter, I was saying it to God.
“I do” to serving Christ through my marriage.
“I do” to letting people look at all the un-perfectness and know that only God is the one who could keep this big, hot mess together.
“I do” to cherishing this man, a gift from God, and knowing that he will never be perfect this side of heaven, but still knowing he is mine, and I am his.
3. Marriage isn’t always dancing in the kitchen to love songs
Since the day I met Peter, I knew he wasn’t a romantic at heart. Well, at least not how the movies portray it. I rarely get flowers. We don’t have “a song”. In fact, we haven’t even ever slow danced in the kitchen. I would get angry, like red ears kind of angry, at Peter when he wouldn’t fit my mold of romance. I wanted him to pen me a poem or whisk me off to a surprise getaway.
Instead, he goes on walks with me and looks at the flowers. He’s perfectly content listening to me belt a love song to him and will even laugh when I add my own snazzy dance moves.
He sends me texts to let me know he’ll be late from work. He’s look at me after a long, hard day and knows that I need a night out of the kitchen. It may not be Hawaii, but let me tell you, Chik-fil-a on a Tuesday night after lesson upon lesson is simply heavenly.
When I realize that my expectations are not lined up with reality, I am happier. I must decide to find the romance in our marriage instead of force it to happen.
4.Sex and laughing fixes a lot of things
I may make some of you blush, but let’s be honest, because if you are married, you’ve had sex. There’s no lying about that. And can I just take it a step further, sex is fun! Now, of course, I remember those days when I had a one year old and I was nursing an infant and the thought of anyone else touching me that day not only repulsed me but I’m pretty sure you could see my head starting to spin and fire come out of my mouth. Those days were hard. I could write a whole book about that period of life and the tricks and lessons I learned. Another day…
Now that we are past the baby stage, I find that enjoying one another and the gift of sex that God gave us fixes so many issues. It’s a stress reliever. It forces us to confront one another and not just ignore our partner. It brings unity. And honestly, it’s just a blast!
Laughing is right up there, too.
I think that is just as much a gift in marriage. Someone that knows all your quirks and back stories. So many private jokes. Who else can I laugh over dutch ovens with, but him! I wouldn’t trade humor for anything. When we take ourselves too seriously, that’s when the trouble starts.
I have to continually remind myself that this is a marathon. And when we have a bad day, week, or let’s face it, season of marriage, it doesn’t mean that things are forever going downhill and we will hit bottom. It simply means that we are adjusting, tweaking, and going to be OK as long as we remember why we are here, WHO put us here, and what our ultimate goal is.
For those who are struggling today in their marriage, know that I don’t say this lightly. I know very well how hard it is and have probably experienced many of the things you have. Remember that it is not always easy, but it’s worth it to keep going. Have fun, laugh, and pray.
Posted September 2, 2016