DISCLAIMER: IF YOU ARE BEING PHYSICALLY ABUSED THIS DOESN’T APPLY TO YOU.
On this Thursday Zack and I will have been married for five years. To some that’s nothing, to others that’s longer than they’ve made it.
But it’s not so much the amount of time. It’s the lessons learned during this time.
I’m going reveal to you the best and worst pieces of advice ever given to me in my marriage.
We had a shotgun wedding for the most part. It wasn’t at a courthouse which is the stereotype for shotgun weddings. It was actually a really well put together event, thanks to my friends and family.
I was 17 years old and a few weeks from graduating high school when I walked down the aisle at my once home church in Manassas, Virginia and promised before God and the people in the audience that I would love the man before me no matter what.
I can tell you less than a year into that union it started to fall apart. It was then that loving my husband was the last thing I wanted to do.
Within a year, our marriage came to a place where divorce was imminent. During that time I was venting to a coworker when she opened up to me about her and her now ex-girlfriend.
They were living together and when the relationship started out they were madly “in love” like all the rest of us. My coworker told me, “One time, I came home from work and she was just sitting on the bed reading, practically ignoring me.”
“It started to happen every time I came home from work. She just distanced herself from me…the fire went out.”
She concluded, “And if he (referring to my spouse) doesn’t make you happy anymore, find someone who will.”
Let that sit, soak, and marinate in your brain.
Talk about reducing your spouse into a court jester, talk about co-dependency?
“If he doesn’t make you happy anymore find someone who will.”
Well what happens when THAT persons ceases to make you happy? And beyond that even why must happiness be the thing marriage revolves around? Seems like a rather unstable ambition for a life that inevitably brings so many ups and downs.
This treacherous advice is the single worse advice you could ever take into a marriage. It alone is responsible for ruining several marriages.
Let’s think about what a marriage is. A union before God. A promise to God for better or worse. Through sickness and health. ‘Till death do us part.
Our vows don’t read, “through sickness and health ‘till you no longer make me happy, no longer turn me on, no longer are attractive, ‘till you no longer have that spark.“
Marriage is two people coming together and promising they will grow together. For better or worse. Technically that means if the deal goes south, if your emotions dwindle and things get worse you don’t leave. (Once again I’m not talking about physically being abused. If your life is in danger, get help.)
Think about another relationship where we grow alongside someone for a long time. Brothers and sisters. Given, it’s not at all like the confines of marriage, but it is good enough for this illustration.
How many people found it increasingly difficult to grow up with siblings?
How many people reading this with siblings never fought? And even if you don’t recall fighting, as a mother of 4 children 5 and under I can attest to the DAILY fights and arguments.
My point is when you grow alongside somebody, either party is susceptible to change, to selfishness, to different wants. But this union under God means God is a part of the deal, too. And if you give him all your cards, he can help heal any indifference. If you throw it all away, of course it will never get better. Marriages are like flipping a house. How it will turn out depends on how much work you put in it. If you give up, the house will remain a mess, unlivable. But if you give it blood sweat and tears and don’t stop, one day, one day that hard work may pay off. Flipped houses reflect the care they get. So do marriages.
Exactly a year before my coworker gave me that advice you could have found me on my wedding day sitting with my grandpa. I sought a minute of quiet during my wedding festivities and there he was sitting in the quiet looking out the sunroom windows of the house that was lent to us for this event, as if he was waiting to feed me this seed of truth that would blossom to save my marriage.
I sat next to this incredible man of God. It was there he told me the best marriage advice I have heard to this day. That was exactly what he called it, too. “The best marriage advice I can give you…” he continued…
“Would be to not look at your spouse as your enemy. Your spouse is not your enemy,” he confirmed.
I almost laughed because it seemed kind of comical. Of course the man I just said “I do” to isn’t my enemy. He’s the love of my life or I wouldn’t be making these decisions, right?
Well for some of us it’s many years, for someone like me, only one year until you realize all marriages are really under false pretenses. Love has been known to literally give us a drug like feeling. Fresh new love can literally make you blind. There are many studies led by quite prestigious institutes that prove this.
Good marriage advice can save marriages if you listen and apply it at the heat and downfall of your union. Choosing to stay with a man who I no longer thought I loved and adored was one of the hardest things I ever did. But it is literally one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s actually made me who I am today. Marriages shape you for better if you let God do the refining.
I had people looked at me like I was crazy and tell me it will never work. I’m making a huge mistake. Because the same week that I decided to pursue official divorce was the same week that I decided to go on a missions trip to Jamaica with the same man I wanted to divorce. It was there that God completely changed my heart.
So here we are four years later. And I’m so in love that it literally doesn’t make sense. There is no one I’d rather be laughing with late into the night over funny movie impersonations. There’s no one I’d rather wrestle with on the floor amongst our children on Sunday evenings. And even times when I mess up or slip up with my standards there’s nobody that I’d rather go to to confess. There is nobody that gets my humor like my husband.
It’s epiphanies like this that make me realize why the enemy is so out to ruin marriages. Because there’s a secret that perseverance tells. If you push through, there is another side. If you pray and if you submit yourself to God, the creator of unions, he can make beautiful things out of the dust, he can make beautiful things out of us.
To God be the glory