I want to start out by humbly declaring that I am in no way an expert on marriage. In fact, many of you reading this have probably been married much longer than I have. One year of marriage is not winning any awards for longevity...yet. Give us another 50 years and we will talk.
Marriage is happening in a flurry all around me. We have seen so many friends get married lately, and it makes me giddy. I gush. I love love.
At the same time, I have heard from couples about ten or so years older than us that they are in a season of watching those same friends get divorced. Say it can't be so. Say it's impossible that any of these people that are getting married will ever get divorced. But somebody will. If not my close friends (and I pray against it), then certainly some of the people I rub shoulders with casually. Ouch. That thought stings. I want young love to always be love...and to always feel young.
Something is wrong with our mindset if we give in so easily to the temptation to throw in the towel. So let's get down to business.
As Christians, we believe that our primary goal in life is to glorify God and make much of the gospel. And if the Gospel is about broken people with messed up lives finding redemption ONLY through Christ, why do we think that our lives can be broken and in need of a savior yet expect our marriages to be perfect and constantly fulfilling? There is a disconnect here. Can I get an Amen?
Here's the point: Marriage at its fullest and most fulfilling is a picture of Christ and His love for the Church--not an excuse to play Cinderella & Prince Charming. The sooner we embrace the eternal significance of our marriages, the easier it will be to find joy in imperfection and make it through the tough times.
I can hear the girls screaming. "Wait. Hold the phone. What about Ariel? And Belle? And happily ever after? And my soul mate who is out there waiting for me? And my ultimate happiness? And the perfect man who is the solution to my loneliness?"
And I get it.
I love for things to tie up in neat little bows. I love for weddings to be beautiful, for couples to ride into the sunset, and for happily ever afters to be real. I love it when I check everything off my to-do list. I love it when things go as planned. And I LOVE princess dresses (perhaps less relevant to the whole marriage thing...but true all the same).
After only a year, it is evident to me that the higher and more self-centered my expectations, the more likely I am to be disappointed--and I married an absolutely incredible, Godly man. Even still, we fight over silly things like towels (we managed to make that last for 45 minutes). He doesn't buy me flowers when I wish he would, and I sometimes say things that crush his spirit. He shuts down when he gets upset, and I boil over and say things I regret.
On the other hand, sometimes we have nights where all seems perfect. Our love is the stuff of movies, and we can't get enough of each other. And then we get into a space when we think all we need is romance, and we push aside our Creator--our first love. We neglect our morning quiet times with Jesus to cuddle in bed and we are too busy talking about our future to talk about the kingdom. If we live on a love like that, we will find temporary satisfaction but a long term void. We will be tricked into thinking that marriage is only good when we are overflowing with the feeling of love. Rather, marriage is best when we are pointing each other to Jesus.
Am I saying we can never have that reach for the stars, over the fence, world series kind of love? No way. I hope we continue to get those feelings for the rest of our lives. But if we think that is the main goal of marriage...we missed the point.
As we head into year two of this whole two-becoming-one business, I pray that we will live with an eternal picture in our minds--focused on God's glory and not solely on our own happiness. When we do that, I believe that God blesses us with joy and with a love that conquers all. For two are stronger than one, and a cord of three strands is not easily broken. In ten years, when others are putting aside their marriage vows and signing divorce papers, I pray that we will continue to stand on a firm foundation knowing that in our brokenness He is made strong, and in His glory we find true fulfillment and everlasting love. P.S. For a look at what God says about the scriptural significance of marriage (because He says it best), check out the following verses: Hebrews 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all Ephesians 5:31-32 (be sure to check out verses 24-30 as well) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Other significant verses: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Genesis 2:18-24 Matthew 19:4-6