Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Details of Discontent ~ Part Five: Marriage

It’s been a struggle to write this mainly because it is painfully obvious that I am not an expert.  However, I feel I may have underestimated myself just a little. Tuesday, I spent the whole day Christmas shopping with my husband who hates to shop and spend money.  We had fun.  We didn’t disagree.  We were still married when we came home.  So it seems that maybe I am an expert after all!

Your wedding day.  The happiest day of your life.  The day you marry the love of your life, the person you cannot live without.  In the early days of marriage it is all so exciting.  The two of you taking on the world, building a life, careers, buying a home.  Then the baby years bring a new excitement, purpose and focus.  Eventually, the rubber hits the road and it gets hard.  I never thought that would happen to me. 

As the years go by,  it can become very monotonous.  The realities and pressures of career, mortgage, toddlers come crashing down.  And your spouse can become just one more person demanding your time and energy.  It can become strictly a partnership:  who’s cooking, who’s taking out the trash, and who’s driving the kids to dance.  It’s easy to start to wonder what seemed so great about getting married.

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: sometimes I am discontent with my marriage.  Shocking I know.  There are things I wish he’d do and be.  I’m sure there are things he wished I’d do and be. 

I am never going to be able to say we’ve been married thirteen or thirty years, and every day has been bliss because it hasn’t.  I know there are some couples that is probably true for, but most people who say that are lying or delusional. One night when Mike and I were having a disagreement, I couldn’t help but wonder why God would put two hardheaded people like us together.

There are some things I have learned about marriage that have totally revolutionized my perspective on it.  Marriage is not about most of the things we get married for.  No wonder there is so much disillusionment involved. 

God created marriage.  When he made Adam he didn’t want him to be alone.  So he created woman to be with him.  It was perfect until sin came into the picture.

Genesis 2:18-24

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
      But for Adam no suitable helper was found.So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,
       "This is now bone of my bones
       and flesh of my flesh;
       she shall be called 'woman’, 
       for she was taken out of man."

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.


Not only is marriage God’s idea, but He has a plan and purpose for it.

Here’s the hidden mystery of marriage.

Ephesians 5:25-33

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Marriage is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church – his believers.  He loves us and will always be faithful.  Always.  Because He is faithful. 

As the church, we are here on earth to prepare for His coming.  When I was a bride, I spent a lot of time, energy and money to be ready for that day.  I bought a fancy dress and got my hair and nails done.  It took a year to plan that few hours.  I am supposed to desire to make the time to prepare myself to be united with Christ. 

Our human marriages will be an imperfect reflection, just like as humans we are not a perfect reflection of God because we sin.  But it’s still a picture of the promise of Christ to the church.

At the heart of a fulfilling marriage is a deep love and devotion to Christ.  Without that what do we have?  A mess.  I know because I’ve lived it.  Even our Christian marriage counselor could not help us work things out.  I think I know why now.  Because no amount of compromise or communication could ever be enough.  There will never be enough forgiveness if we just try to work things out in human terms.  It will never be fair for someone to be asked to sacrifice or let go.  No matter how much money you have or how good looking you are, it will never be enough. 

True healing and happiness in our marriage came through surrender.  When both of us were willing to give up our rights and attitudes we found freedom.  There is freedom when you give up the fight for self.  It takes humility to admit we are wrong and to willingly put our needs or desires in the backseat.  Those are the very things God uses to make us ready.

Last spring we were having a tense week.  During that week two people asked Mike if he was happily married.  He had the opportunity to share our weaknesses.  He told them that it’s been a rough week and we had things to work through. Challenges and disagreements don’t trump faithfulness and commitment.   

I think that kind of honesty honors God because it isn’t easy.  It isn’t all candlelight and roses.  It isn’t wrong to have bad times and struggle.  When we hit the low point in our marriage it was ugly.  But as ugly as it was, it was also a beautiful new start.  Once we realized that we could not do it on our own, that we’re sinners, that we’re selfish;  that’s when Christ makes the difference.  Without Him, what’s the point?  It seems easier to just cut and run.

Along the way, we’ve found a way to love each other that is true to how God made us.  God made each of us unique and wonderful.  Our marriage is practical and sarcastic, full of humor.  Sometimes I wish it were different.  I look at other people and think if only he was like that.  If only we did those things.  That’s dangerous thinking.  The things we do and say really aren’t the point.  The point is God offers us perfect love, protection, commitment, faithfulness.  He will come back for his bride.  It’s not about us.  It’s about God. 

So maybe the first step to contentment in regards to marriage is to realign our ideas of what it should be with God’s. 

Are you willing to surrender?  Are you willing to give up the fight?  Are your ready to live something greater than your own temporal happiness? 

I’m thinking there will be more on marriage,  it’s just coming slow.   There are some instances when surrender is not the right thing.  There are times when we should be discontent with our relationship.  We’ll get there.


Cheryl Martinson said...

What a great post. There are days I wonder what the heck I am doing this for, but at the same time I could not imagine being without such an amazing man. Confusing sometimes for sure. He is certainly the one I have chosen to take this journey with me and I do think that I could do this without him, I just don't want to. But marriage sure can be exhausting.

Henny said...

have you ever read the book "sacred marriage"? iy is exactly what you just described. i truly love that book. it teaches the importance of God teaching and molding us through marriage and not that worldly "10 steps to a perfect marriage" crap most books try to sell you on. IF people spent more time trying to honor God with their marriage and less time trying to be happy, they would likely be a heck of a lot happier! ;)

Wayne Pederson said...

Ruth Graham said: "If two people agree on everything, one of them is unneccesary."

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