I have been wanting to write a post on marriage yet it is hard to gather all my thoughts. So to preface this: these are my thoughts. I am not an authority as we have been married -hard to believe- about 11 months. But in this past year I have come to realize many things about marriage and desire to share what I have learned; in the hope that perhaps it may bless someone.
We all have expectations when we are getting married or are looking forward to marriage in the future. Expectations are not always bad but they are so often unrealistic. The world we live in pushes upon little girls from the age of 2 to expect a fairy tale. We often feel entitled to a certain experience.
I remember not long after we got married, Charlie and I both turned to a each other and said, "I thought this would be easier!" We weren't expressing regret or disappointment but the honest thought that we would somehow simply mesh and everything be smooth. But it was not always easy. We would argue over the most stupid things. We realized how incredibly selfish we are!
A friend of ours gave us a book for a wedding present (which I highly recommend: "For Better or For Best" by Tim and Alane Waters). It's a very good book for any couple, young or old. But the line that burned in to my memory was this: "Becoming one does not mean losing your identity, it means losing your selfishness." When we got married Charlie and I committed to each other. We said, "I will love you no matter what." That means: when you do things I do not like. When you hold opinions that I may not agree with. When I do not understand what on earth you are talking about. When you get held up for an hour. When life does not happen the way I would want it to!! We committed that in the midst of any conflict, the love we have for each other will not change- it is a constant. It does not depend on each others performance. It does not depend on the circumstances. That is a marriage vow. We committed to being unselfish.
(Note: obviously you don't commit this lightly. Single people, take heed. Know who you are marrying.)
And you know, I see how marriages break up- because we are naturally selfish. Because we don't understand what commitment is. Because I want what I want rather than what is better for our marriage or the other person. It is not easy. In fact, it seems to be it is impossible without the Lord. Even couples who do have a great marriage and don't seem to have a faith profession, it is still because of the grace of God.
This is why we as Christians need to be committed to God first and marry solid believers. The greatest comfort I have is this: when things are not going great, I know without a shadow of a doubt that my husband is praying for me, our marriage and for understanding. And I am as well. And the Lord who we are both praying to, will bring us to unity. He will soften our hearts. He will help us to be humble. Because the fact is, we cannot handle our stubborn pride with out Him. It would be our ruin. I cannot imagine marriage without the Lord in it.
Intimacy is not just a physical expression. In fact, you can be physical without being intimate. Intimacy is an intentional opening of your heart and receiving an other's heart. Intimacy cannot be achieved where there is not respect, where there is not affection and where there is not vulnerability. Intimacy also cannot be achieved if a person is intentionally holding back his thoughts or feelings. And if I am thinking I am better than Charlie or if my opinion holds more weight than his, intimacy is impossible. To truly love, is to be emptied of self. It is a high calling. It is an incredible thought.
"Love is patient, love is kind...," the Bible says. Those beautiful qualities found in 1 Corinthians 13 are the recipe for a monumental marriage; it is a relationship that would radiate. We have all seen couples who have a particularly sweet marriage. There is gentleness in their words to each other. There is a tender affection expressed. There is that smile for each other that makes the onlooker turn away as if they are seeing a private moment. That is a godly marriage. It has been blessed by the spirit of God in the hearts of the couple. That is the marriage I want.
Charlie and I certainly have not arrived but I have a hope because I can see how we have grown already. That as long as we keep apologizing; that as long as we stay humble; that as long as we intentionally set aside quality time; that as long as we can laugh at ourselves, God can keep working. He can make us patient, kind, and gentle. He can make us into a shining witness of His grace! That is my desire!
Now don't get me wrong- Marriage is a challenge but it is also a joy! It is not always difficult, in fact, sometimes it is very easy! We have made some wonderful memories this past year! We have shared some special times. Marriage is great!! Always having a friend. Always a partner. Always a shoulder. Always sharing memories. Always someone to spoil. Always a listening ear. Always having a home. Always someone there....as long as we both shall live.