Our church started a new sermon series titled “The Vow”, and the first message was about the hardships of marriage. A friend and I were talking about it and she mused that most of the sermons she’s heard on the topic make marriage sound challenging, difficult and just plain depressing. Yikes.
Well, to be fair, any interaction you have with another human being on a consistent basis (ie. at work, school or home) will face hardships from time to time. People are imperfect and needy and broken, so yep, relationships are hard. And when you have two people committed to building a life together through marriage, you’ve got plenty of ammunition on your hands for WWIII. What’s the lesson here? Get a dog or cat if you want to avoid hardships. Kidding (kind of)! 😉 The real question I’ve been thinking about is this: What is marriage good for?
Married or single, I’m sure you have your ideas of what marriage is like or should be like. When I turned 18, I remember telling my mom I was old enough to be married (in other words, I was old enough that I didn’t need to listen to her anymore, haha), but I had NO idea what being married involved. When I did get married at 25, I started learning exactly what marriage was and what it wasn’t.
Marriage isn’t a free pass to do or say whatever you want and expect your spouse to put up with it. It’s also not the right to expect your wife or husband to fulfill all your needs and make you happy. If that’s your idea of marriage, you’re in for a rude awakening—like a bucket of ice water poured over your head kind of wake-up-call!
So what is marriage good for? Essentially, the husband and wife relationship is THE training ground to learning how to love another person better.
We may say we love the people in our lives, such as our friends and family (and especially cute, cuddly kittens or puppies), but until that love has been stretched and pulled and twisted and knotted, we don’t truly know the heights and depths of our love. That’s why marriage, with all its crazy, real-life, day-to-day opportunities for you and your spouse to be authentic—to show the real YOU—gives you endless chances to love (and be loved) over and over again.
Ultimately, marriage should be a sanctuary. A safe place for messiness and mishaps. For growth and second (and more) chances. For appreciation and acceptance. For unconditional love.
I’m reminded of a conversation hubby and I had when he shared about some of his old memories and regrets. He brought something up to which I replied, “You already told me this a long time ago.” He stopped in surprise and said, “Wow, I must trust you.”
Yes, this is surely a sign that hubby has a bad memory (which we already were aware of), but it also confirmed the fact that we’ve come a long way in our marriage. Far over the dark valley of anger and resentment, through the rough terrain of disappointment and hurt, and up the steep mountain of forgiveness. We are now closer to the peak of trust, respect, and love that marriage is all about. Which is a testament of God’s abundant grace because marriage—as all the sermons out there say—is hard. But when it’s good, it’s oh-so good.
So, the next time you hear a message about how difficult marriage is, nod in agreement, but also challenge that belief by doing the precious work of loving your spouse hard and deep and strong. Because that’s what marriage is good for.
Here’s a beautiful song by John Legend about the realities of love: “Ordinary People”.
What do you think marriage is good for?