Marriage is tough, but it can be so character shaping. There are times you want to give up, throw in the towel, raise your fingers in a big “W” ‘whatever’, roll your eyes, sigh and walk away. But, I believe the growth is in the staying. The choice you make now to stay will benefit you in more ways than just keeping the marriage, it will pour into your maturity in ways you will not be able to comprehend until you are a little further down the road. You will just have to trust me on this one. Being mature is so much better than following your whim of chasing “happiness”.
I get it. While dating, you thought, “This will be so much easier once we’re engaged.” Then, during your engagement you thought, “This will be so much easier once we are married.” Why do we do that to ourselves? We fast forward life in our minds by thinking that over the next hurdle there will be easy times? And we make it our goal to quickly and painlessly get over each hurdle instead of enjoying where your feet are at the moment. The sparkler-lit path that propelled you into your honeymoon vehicle guided you right off a cliff.
We live in a messed up and fallen world. God does ultimately want you to live out enjoyment in the life He has given to you, but realistically there are no guarantees for an “easy life”, at least not the way you and I perceive it. We have such a small view of our life, we can usually see not much beyond the nose on our face. We always seem to crave the wrong stuff.
God’s word seems to indicate that suffering is likely, but that restoration can come on the heels of suffering. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV) Pain offers an incredible path to refinement, but we, as humans just don’t want to follow it through to the other side. “Just make it go away quickly”, we think.
In our marriages specifically, it is temtping to think that other couples “look so happy” or you begin to wonder if you really married your “soulmate”. We set such unrealistic goals for marriage. We weigh down this entity of marriage with the expectation that it will keep things easy, make us happy and satisfy every one our needs. Such a heavy burden we place on marriage. Such a predictable path lures us into disappointment and tempts us with the question of whether or not we’ve done the right thing by marrying this person.
Do you watch the latest “name the hot television series” that depicts a beautiful relationship filled with texts and flowers and chocolates and dates that end with dessert under the twinkling lights of a banyan tree? Does social media make you drool over the people, places and events that other couples are welcomed into? Is there someone at work that is giving you more attention than your spouse at the moment? All of these things create an imaginary scenario that your mind follows like a puppy after a treat. But, its not real. Don’t buy it. Its the enemy’s way of taunting you out of something that is so much more solid than anything he can offer. The solidness of a marriage before the God of our universe can walk you into the journey of a lifetime if you let it. But, you have to be willing to be selfless.
You see, all of those temptations have this sort of “swoon” factor that can paint a very pretty picture. All the colors you love, all the tastes that please you, all the visions that make your eyes sparkle with delight. Everything for you. Selfish, really - because all of these temptations take your focus off of God and place that focus onto yourself.
Turning from this type of mindset once we’ve dipped our toe in is not easy. It would be nearly impossible to become selfless overnight and we absolutely can’t do it on our own. So, we challenge ourself and present this need before our Father. God is merciful to our honest cries for help and will lovingly help us make some changes in order to fulfill the maturity that is necessary for selflessness.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
It takes work to keep a marriage going. You may be confused if you feel as though you’re still learning how to be married or think maybe that you’re not good at it. Rest assured, any title or role you receive in this life takes some learning. When you walked down the aisle you were single - then as soon as you were pronounced “man and wife”, you became a spouse, regardless of whether or not you knew how to be one. Give yourself some grace and instead of grasping for “happiness” around every corner, place your efforts into the long game of experiencing JOY.
Grace and Peace,