In just the past week we (my husband and I) hit one of “those” moments. You know one that brings up all kinds of thoughts and feelings from the past in an instant. We were needing to leave so only the minimum got dealt with until we were on the road. With a bit time and miles behind us we purposefully, chose our words, asked “what did you hear me say” and stumbled through until we felt understood, for the moment anyway. Then we worked to move on in our day which origially was filled with joy and anticipation of helping our kids. It was a good thing it was a 4 hours trip. That time allowed us to decide how we were going to handle this scrape of an old scar.
A few days later after talking with at least three hurting couples, a couple of individuals, and leading worship with a new combination of instruments and people at our church 1-1/2 hours from home we began to drive again. This time reveling in all that God is doing and how much we need Him. When our words were few I read, as it is our custom from a devotional book for married couples. We decided when we started our adventure with God in building worship teams that we needed to purposefully work on us too. So I began to read from “Devotions for a Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. “Some how-to marriage books fall short by presuming that the difficulties of marriage can be overcome. Every marriage, no matter how you look at it is hard and will be hard. That’s why I like to correct a spouse who says, “I have a difficult marriage.” There’s no need to personalize it: “I have a difficult marriage.” At various points, every marriage is difficult. The problem isn’t necessarily with your marriage, it’s with marriage in general.” (pg.114) He goes on to quote multiple noteable people from history painting a bleak picture of marriage from both the man and the woman’s perspective. If this is the case then why do people even get married in the first place? I know the women are saying the men do it for sex. The men are thinking the women want security. While those answers play into it that’s not enough reason to take on such a hard task. The real reason is we were created for relationship. God created us to be in relationship with Him first and then others. Our marriages are a life lesson in unconditional love. This lesson involves homework, lots of work. As our almost-nephew moves out to take our niece as his bride we had this talk. They’ve known each other for years now and have been planning the wedding for 1-1/2 years but the “work” is not over. Actually it’s just beginning. I told him it’s worth it but I didn’t minimize the “work” aspect. I feel like we often emphasize the wedding day and the joy of being together with very little talk of the ongoing work it will be starting the moment the preacher says “I now pronounce you man and wife.” I know if I had it to do all over again I would talk more about this with our kids before they got married. Since our son’s divorce we’ve done a lot of thinking about this and we have had more candid talks with him as well as our daughter and son-in-law.
So the next time you think, as I did a few days ago and the couples we talked with in the past week, is this (marriage) really worth it, you are not alone. Again quoting Gary Thomas from the same devotion, “It’s not so much that your marriage is difficult; the state of marriage is difficult. Don’t be discouraged. It’s teh price we pay for a glorious return. Certainly, there’s a place for the how-to approach; we can learn how to communicate better, how to resolve conflict, adn a host of other skills. But we can’t overcome the reality that it’ll never be easy to be married.” (page 116-117) That said, it is also the most rewarding, fulfilling, amazing relationship in my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.