As our goodly priest said up above, marriage is what brings us together today. If you’re single, perhaps take today’s post and consider it thoughtfully and prayerfully. There’s a lot of good nuggets here for the taking.
I was in a thrift shop last year and happened upon a hand full of women who I would guess were aged 50-60. They were grousing about their husbands/exes. I was tucked away between shelves quietly listening. One woman, obviously a divorcee, said, “And good riddance! The best thing that came out of that (marriage) was the kids.” The others assented. I felt so bad that these women had such animosity toward marriage. Then again, I did sympathize. Marriage isn’t all rainbows, fairy dust, and unicorn poop. Sometimes it feels like a lot of poop.
Two statements come to mind when I contemplate marriage.
- I remember visiting a newly married, nearly fresh out of high school friend in her first home. Hubby’s at work, baby’s doing what babies do. She says to me, “My dad tried telling me that marriage isn’t all peaches ‘n cream. He was right.”
- I was sitting in a side room at a great aunt’s funeral, newly engaged, when my Aunt Valerie gave me some sage advice: “Just remember, Christi, the grass isn’t greener on the other side. You’ll just be trading one set of problems for another.” I don’t know what made her tell me that, but I never forgot it. I think of it often when the peaches ‘n cream run out.
It’s funny now to look back and see how naive I once was. I figured with God’s grace and the strength of our love, Bob and I would surpass all other couples–including Princess Buttercup and Westley. Boy, was I dumb! By the end of the second week of marriage, I was thinking how nice it would be to go home when the stark realization that my home was now with Bob smacked me full in the face. I want to make it clear that it wasn’t anything that Bob said or did, but the plain shock of it all. This is not an argument to advocate shacking up before one gets married. Want to complicate marriage further? Throw that into the mix and see how far it gets ya.
Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking by ordaining marriage. Take two willful, selfish, totally different, broken people and yoke them together for life. I might add, that any spouse that won’t confess to being these things needs counseling right away. They might need counseling anyway, but if you’re a man you won’t get it because you don’t have a problem–or so I’ve heard from reliable sources–men 🙂 .
Marriage is hard work, harder than giving birth. At least labor pains eventually end. The pain of being married, because it is intended to last a lifetime, does not. That’s why we make commitments in front of God and everybody, to anchor us. That’s why we say things like, “For richer or poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, ’til death us do part”, only we’re supposed to mean them, too. Being willful can have its perks, especially when it wills you to do something you don’t feel like doing, like staying when everything within you wants to go. Marriage can feel like quite the grind when it’s mostly the will involved instead of feelings. Sometimes I like to feel a little. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I do not. Face it, there’s nothing romantic feeling about dirty dishes or dirty underwear. Most people live lives where the thought of romance is as far removed as sunshine is from a cave.
Romance takes time. It takes effort. It takes remembering. It takes action.
Remember what drew you to your mate in the first place? Okay, I’m going to get real here. I loved Bob’s eyes. I called them cat eyes and the shade of blue, gray, or green reflected whatever color shirt he wore. They still do. Oh my gosh, when he wears denim blue does his eye color ever pop! I need not mention that he was a tall, lean-muscled machine. I need not mention it, but I have anyway. That is not what drew me to him at the first, though. On the contrary, it would be some time, and some comments from relatives and friends before I would notice how truly handsome he was. I’m serious. I think God ordained it to be so that I would not be led by my emotions. That’s a flat out dangerous way to make decisions.
Back to remembering….The initial thing that lured me to Bob? His tenderness toward God. Bob didn’t know Jesus when we met but he didn’t object to me talking about Him. Bob’s lifestyle was far removed from godly. He would later confess to me that he was well on his way to being an alcoholic by the age of 15. Yet he still possessed tenderness and had a sensitivity about him even though he experienced a lot in his young life that could have hardened him. He was sincere. He defended and literally fought for the nerds, the overweight, the outcasts. I admired that. Personally, he made me feel beautiful. He made me feel safe. He was a one-woman man. And I don’t know that I’ll ever forget Mum telling me, “Bob loves you, Chris. He truly loves you.” And he still does…even when I’m mean…or so he says 🙂 .
Romance takes acting. Now that we’ve remembered, let’s do something. Write a note, whisper sweet little nothings, give a massage, bake that favorite dessert. Without spots of romance here and there, marriage is drab. So is life in general. We all need romance. We all need a feeling of mystery, surprise, and excitement outside of the mundane whether we admit it or not. Then, too, none of us could live in a state of euphoria (especially the one we have before we are married); it would kill us. Ergo, commitment.
Marriage is hard work. Some days it can feel like there’s little pay for the intensive labor it calls for. Payment may not always come in ways I desire, it may not come by way of romance, but it is worth it. I have a good husband. He is faithful. He would die for me and the girls. He goes to church and worships with us. He works hard. He’s providing for our retirement. He can be quite humorous. His knack for repairing things is astounding. He’s a wonderful heater on cold winter nights. Despite how he feels about himself, he’s still wildly handsome and desirable to me.
Make the time. Make the effort. We need to remember. We need to take action. We need to remain committed. Life’s too short to let little inconsequential things build up and pile up until we can barely see the things that really matter.
Join me today in setting aside unrealistic expectations and appreciate the spouses we have for who and what they are. Marriage may not always resemble the vision we had before we were wed. But I’ve got a notion that if we let it, it will be the best, blessed reality that God designed it to be.
I leave you with our wedding song. Hope you enjoy it.