What is Marriage Good For?

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.

Isn't the view at the top grand and worth the journey?

Isn’t the view at the top grand and worth the journey?

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?

Thoughts of an Almost 40 Year Old Gal

I clearly remember the night before I turned 20 like it was yesterday (but it was, wasn’t it?? LOL). My roommates and I were studying in our college apartment, and as soon as the clock struck midnight, I freaked out. I stood up on our lumpy, faded brown couch and began jumping … up and down and up and down.

You could probably guess I was not thrilled to be growing older. Back when I was a kid, I remember thinking that 20 sounded ancient and so far away. There was no way I could ever be that old. But as someone wise once said, time waits for no one. In fact, it seems to pick up speed once you reach your early 30’s. And before you know it you’re 39 and seeing someone you don’t totally recognize in the mirror, except that she kind of reminds you of your mother (and Facebook keeps wanting to tag you in photos as her! #truestory). 😉

That’s where I am today. About a month away from turning 40 – but NOT freaking out this time. Why not? Because I know …

1. It’s a privilege to age. The truth is not everyone makes it this far. I count every day that God gives me on this earth (good and bad) a blessing and an opportunity.

2. The older I get, the more ______  I am. There are so many words I could put in that blank space. Thankful, empathic and wise are a few that come to mind. Confident is another (which is a major one for me!). The changes happening inside me far outweigh the changes taking place on the outside. You can buy smooth skin, hair dye and a new hip, but you can’t buy internal growth.

3. Age is but a number. I may not have the face or body of a 20 year old, but I can still do a lot of cool things. Some of those things I can actually do better now that I’m older. I listen better. I write better. I even dream better because I have let go of some of the fears that once held me back.

Just because I’m reaching mid-life doesn’t mean the fun is over. God willing, things are just getting good. I’m ready to tackle my 40’s with purpose and passion. I hope to publish more books. I want to meet new people, such as authors or readers (preferably online since I’m an introvert, haha). I want to grow old with hubby and be able to reminisce about the good ‘ole days with him. I may even want to experience what it’s like to live with teenagers.

There really is a lot to look forward to as I turn 40. Just not the couch jumping. I’ll leave that part to my little monkeys. 🙂

Image courtesy of http://www.amazon.com/MIP-Does-This-Shirt-T-Shirt/dp/B00NUG7CUW (this is not an affiliate link)

This shirt comes in pink! (Image courtesy of http://www.amazon.com/MIP-Does-This-Shirt-T-Shirt/dp/B00NUG7CUW – this is not an affiliate link)

This is a new song by Meghan Trainor (featuring John Legend) called “Like I’m Gonna Lose You”. The lyrics are a beautiful reminder to not take anything, especially the people in our lives, for granted.

What have you learned from growing older? What do you look forward to in the years to come?

A Better Spouse

Hubby recently told me that one of his friends said, “You married a good wife.”

My reaction to him was, “Huh, what are you saying about me behind my back?” and the one to myself was, Yeah, you go, girl!  😉

I think everyone enjoys getting complimented, right? We all like to feel good about ourselves and to look good to other people. So I was more than happy to hear that someone would think I’m a good wife. And to be honest, I’ve thought the same thing myself on occasion.

I cook, clean, do laundry, buy groceries, take care of the kids, listen to hubby vent, put up with his crazy work schedule, etc. 

I am a good wife!

I’ve even gone to the point of thinking, I’m not just good, I’m better. I’m the better spouse. I’m easier to live with. I don’t leave my socks in random places around the house. I’m so easy going. The list could go on and on. (And my head would grow bigger and bigger.)

I would likely have a very huge ego by now if it were not for an incident that happened one morning. I had just stepped out of a nice, hot shower and grabbed my towel off the rack when something in the trash can caught my eye. Lying on top of a bunch of wadded up tissues was a clump of long, wet hair. I leaned down to take a closer look and realized the black blob had once belonged to me. Over time, I had shed a long lost relative of Cousin Itt in the shower and someone had picked it up and thrown it into the trash. That someone had been my hubby.

In that instant the reality of the situation hit me as strongly as the cold air that had met me when I stepped out of the shower.

Are there things about me that annoy him, like my hair always clogging up the drain? Is there a slim possibility that I’m not as easy to live with after all?! (Gasp!)

Image courtesy of winnond/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of winnond/freedigitalphotos.net

I know my tendency to shed in the shower (and all over the house) is not that big of a deal. Just the fact that hubby discarded my hair without mentioning it shows it’s a minor issue for him. But likewise, hubby’s tendency to shed his socks around the house shouldn’t be a big deal either, yet I confess I have made it into one in the past. This got me thinking – could it be that one reason I believe I am a good wife is because hubby often chooses to overlook my imperfections? In actuality, I know there are things that I do or the way in which I do them that cause him to sigh and shake his head. However, he is quite patient with me and gives me grace as I grow. I, on the other hand, am not so kind. I would rather downplay my shortcomings and focus instead on his. Clever, huh? It’s the classic speck and log scenario, which I admit I fall prey to quite often throughout our marriage (Matthew 7:1-5).

What I’ve come to realize though is that marriage should not be about criticizing or comparing, but about cooperating and giving grace. When two people share the same roof, conflicts and disappointments are bound to happen. A harmonious relationship takes a lot of work and time to achieve. As a marriage goes through its growing pains, the point isn’t to figure out who is doing more or less in the relationship (cause it will never work out perfectly fairly). What matters is keeping the right perspective of our spouse.

When we choose to see our husband or wife as good – essentially as valuable and lovable – a lot of the things that annoy and irritate us will go by the wayside. It will become more natural to show patience and understanding on a daily basis. It will become easier to see the planks in our own eyes. It won’t be a big deal anymore to pick up socks off the floor or hair from the shower drain.

Because when it all comes down to it, the goal of marriage is not to focus on who is or is not the better spouse, but to become a better spouse.

Take a listen to John Legend’s song, “All of Me“. I like the line about loving all the “perfect imperfections”. 🙂

What perfect imperfections have you come to love about your spouse?