Hold on a minute while I dab at my eyes. It’s just so beautiful. But let’s be real here.
Like childbirth, which I think was orchestrated so that amnesia sets in at key moments just so the population can continue, because who would go through that kind of excruciating pain more than once in their lives if they were in their right minds to begin with, marriage is one of those life events that you have to be crazy to become involved in and blissfully ignorant of its realities.
Being married is by far the most difficult state I have ever gotten myself into. I won’t even qualify that it’s also rewarding or that I’d never want to be anything else at this point in my life, because that goes without saying, and there. I said it.
But it is hard. And my husband isn’t even that difficult of a person to live with. He definitely got the short end of the stick in this game.
It’s hard because we are all so complex, and we may have a knack for being attracted to people who are our complete opposites, which just makes it more difficult. We try to understand each other through the filter of our own perspectives, which at times can be pretty opaque. We want those who are close to us to align themselves perfectly with our thoughts and needs and habits, so life will flow smoothly. It’s the quest for peace with a stipulation: why can’t we all get along (by doing things my way all of the time)?
I find myself on more than one occasion wishing that my husband would know what I am thinking, or that he would instantly know what I need at the moment I need it, or that he would stop breathing in the way that annoys me. His inability to immediately assess and care for my needs in a manner that would totally and completely satisfy me grates my nerves to no end.
What’s more, I don’t think expecting him to do that is asking for too much.
Obviously I’m kidding. My husband is smart and a good man, but he’s not that smart and he’s not that good. Marriage is difficult because we have tendencies to do things our way and to expect others to do the same. Conflict also happens because we are different and imperfect and expectations aren’t always made perfectly clear. Our love can’t cover all sins, and sometimes we have to love the other more than we love ourselves to manage those conflicts.
That’s what God says in the Bible. He commands us to love him first, then love each other. He doesn’t say to expect others to fulfill our every need. He definitely doesn’t tell us to be annoyed when others fail to satisfy us. God wants us to be satisfied by him only.
Further, God tells us that he knows us. He knew us before we were born. He knows every hair on our head. He knows what we do, where we’ve been, where we’ll be. He knows when we will die. He knows what we need to hear and to learn. He knows our heart before we can even describe it. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and definitely better than our spouses do.
When my marriage frustrates me, I think about this. Of course, old habits surface easily, and it might take some time while I try to take matters into my own hands before I go to God. But when I come around and remember what God wants for my marriage and for my husband and for me, I ask for help, and God never lets me down.
In his infinite creativity, God gives me way more solutions than I could ever come up with on my own, which admittedly aren’t much more creative than losing my mind in the form of crying or lashing out. Sometimes I calm down and ask for the words to say in a conflict. Sometimes I ask for a change of heart. Sometimes I ask for a change in my husband. It doesn’t matter what the vehicle; with any solution that comes from God, I go on, bolstered and strengthened to deal with the issues.
Like that breathing thing. Man, it’s annoying. You have no idea.
|They have no idea what's they're getting into.|
Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
What is the price of five sparrows – two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Luke 12:6-8 (NLT)
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. Ephesians 1:11 (The Message)
House and land are handed down from parents, but a congenial spouse comes straight from God. Proverbs 19:14 (The Message)
We don’t naturally grow together and love each other more. We tend to grow apart, to grow distant. So we have to work hard at marriage. It’s the most fun work in the world, but it’s still work. –Anne Ortlund