5 Truths About Marriage
My cousin Katie is one of the sweetest people I know. Ever since I can remember she has had a gentle spirit and calming presence. As far as cousins go, my sister Kelli and I really only grew up Katie and Leslie. Sometimes the four of us would play together but most of the time we would split the older and younger. Katie and I enjoyed spying on our little sisters, who we thought were so young because kid years are kind of like dog years in that time is measure differently; two or three feels closer to nine or ten years. Or we would make up songs like “Big Wood” (which we still sing on occasion) or research manatees using a CD-rom encyclopedia. We would play house and hide-n-seek and watch movies and eat Cheez-Its. And inevitably when our play dates would end, our moms would threaten that if we threw a fit saying goodbye we would not get to play together again. We now laugh at how ridiculous and empty those threats actually were but to a seven and five year old it made perfect sense. Playing with our cousins is one of my favorite childhood memories.
And here we are all grown up as if no time has passed at all and our sweet Katie is getting married. We of course are thrilled for her because if Katie fell head over heals for Ben he must be at least close to as amazing as she is. And in Katie’s humble opinion she considers Ben better than herself. That is Katie.
For many people, weddings are a nostalgic time to reminisce about first meeting their love to dating to the engagement to the wedding and first days of marriage. Or for many it is a time to dream about what he or she hopes their wedding and marriage will be like. Weddings make me contemplate what I wish I had known prior to getting married or at the very least, what advice I would give someone now. Stuart usually does not get caught up in this because in his mind, most of the time we already know what to do. Unfortunately, doing is harder than knowing. As we discussed this more Stuart and I came up with a few things that we have tried to put into practice over the years.
- If the advice applies, use it. I guess with that being said, feel free to stop reading here. I cannot tell you how many books on marriage I read in the months leading up to our wedding. When our marriage looked completely different from what I had read, I was upset and confused. Stuart gently, or not so gently, told me to throw away the books! We had to work together to define what our marriage would look like. Sure, getting up together at 5:00 every morning to workout, have coffee and journal would be fabulous in my world but that would be miserable for Stuart. And for him, staying up until midnight having a three hour discussion about a Biblical concept or politics would meet his needs but would absolutely drain me. We have now found a better balance that works for us both. Apply what works for you and ditch the rest.
- Rely on God’s Word. This one was a sweet reminder from my Granny. She was married for seventy years. Had my grandpa lived as long as she did, that number would have been eighty-two. When asked how she and my grandpa stayed married that long, her answer was simple, “We believed in the Bible.” Of course there are at times uncontrollable circumstances when divorce is warranted, but for Granny, staying married was as simple as taking God at his word.
- Have an unwavering commitment. This one piggy-backs on the previous point and goes deeper than anything on this earth. We live in a throwaway society. As soon as the latest iPhone is released suddenly the one that was bought only months before is “old”. The next year’s car model is released six months before the year even begins. We are constantly being sold the idea that what we have is not good enough and that includes our spouse. Divorce and affairs are romanticized on television and advertisements and just about everywhere we turn. But what is really romantic is staying together through the tough stuff and keeping your original model till death do you part. My Grandma was a beautiful example of this. She took care of my grandpa for about 8 years after Alzheimer’s set in. A beautiful example, indeed. Stay committed. You won’t regret it.
- Marriage is not complicated but it’s hard. Think about life in general: most of the time we know what the right decision is. Putting others above ourselves is logistically pretty simple. Living that day in and day out is hard. Much of my energy has been spent trying to find a way around doing what I know I should or analyzing why my husband isn’t doing what I think he should. I would have exhausted less energy just doing what was right instead of analyzing why I should or shouldn’t act in a certain way. Marriage is hard, but don’t make it complicated.
- Relationships get sweeter with time. While we haven’t been married that long relatively speaking, we can already attest that this is absolutely true. Working together to define what your marriage looks like is sweet. Taking God at his word is sweet. Staying together through good times and bad is sweet. Keeping it simple is sweet. And this journey gets sweeter with time.
For those of you who are not married, look at marriage in a long term context. There are many people who seem enchanting to stand with at the altar, but who do you want to be standing next to you when the music fades and the wedding dress turns into sweatpants, when the makeup comes off and the toll of the years sets in? Who do you want by your side when life is hard, when the tears fall and everything in you wants to quit? Who do you want to celebrate with, share victories with and still be smiling with for years to come?
For those of us who are already married, why not put these truths into practice? It is not about what our spouse is doing but about what we are doing, what we can bring to the marriage and how we can influence our circumstances for the better. It’s about doing the know, committing to something deeper than a human relationship and being hard headed enough to never, ever give up.
And so, sweet cousin Katie and everyone else who is or will be married, I pray these simple truths can encourage you right where you are. Above all else, let’s remember that marriage is ultimately a picture of Christ and the church. Marriage was designed to show the world the mystery of Jesus’ relationship with us, his body. If we get nothing else, let’s get this truth. If we could just get this truth, the “5 Truths About Marriage” would be “1 Truth About Marriage”.
And I think that 1 truth is worth walking down the aisle for.