Day 22: Marriage
Ephesians 5:22,25: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Mark 10:9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Song: Steady Love
Happy Twenty Second Day of Thanks Everyone!
Today, I give thanks for marriage. It takes brave souls to take the leap to make a commitment of “forever” together. If both parties are willing to put in some real work to love, unlearn selfishness, effectively communicate, be honest, learn intimacy and submission and have fun, they could experience a covenant of marriage that could last a lifetime.
For those of you who have been on this journey with me for the last four years, you know that my reference for marriage, through my aunt Phyllis and uncle Freddie, has set the standard really high for what I know to be unconditional love. If you don’t know the story, you have to go to the main page and order my book (shameless plug!) to find out. Seeing their marriage, which was almost perfect, allowed me to know that two folks can mesh to be one when they are committed to making the covenant work and when there is very little selfishness involved and a great deal of desired self-sacrifice.
I love to watch elderly couples who are married. They are so cute! They hold each other’s hand as they look at each other. They finish each other’s thoughts and sentences. They are also so protective and mindful of each other. In the few times that I have gotten to ask an elderly couple how they got to such a place, they always start by saying it was not always like that. The couple usually shares how the first several years of their marriage was chaotic, full of threats to leave with someone actually going through with the leaving, many arguments about toilets not being put down, dirty clothes being left everywhere and a real test of wills concerning so many other things. It’s amazing to see such beauty arise from the chaos of it all. Many of the couples explain that at some point, they decided that they were going to do what it took to make things work. They knew that life with their spouse was so much better than life without their spouse. They learned the dirty “c” word of compromise, they stopped going to bed angry at each other, they learned to not just say that they loved the other person but show it. They fell in love with being committed to each other.
Marriage has always been something that I have thought that I’d get to in the very far distant future. For a very long time, most of my friends and acquaintances’ marriages made me want to run real fast and real long from even the idea of marriage. The things that couples go through are no joke and the many times I’ve had to talk my friends “off the ledge” from leaving their spouses is equally no joke. However, recently, I find myself settling into the idea that marriage is something that I actually do want to do, in spite of seeing all the chaos that can go with it. As I observe the marriages of my friends and loved ones, I have come to several conclusions. First, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Second, just like having a baby, one will never be completely prepared for it. And, three, there will always be tension when two personalities have to mesh or blend into one, because the goals/intentions/ aspirations/future for the marriage have to be based on the two people’s like-mindedness and unwillingness to compromise the overall vision for the marriage. Since no two people think completely alike, there will always be a level of struggle!
I know that I just said that no one will ever be completely prepared for marriage but from my observations, I do think there is a level of maturity and wholeness that one has to bring to the covenant for it to actually have something to stand on. In my many conversations with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances whose marriages are in serious trouble, when I ask them if their spouse’s behavior was the same or similar before their marriage, they usually reply “yes.” When I ask other questions about “red flags” and if they saw them beforehand, most often, they reply “yes” again. When I ask them, why they expected the spouse to change, they never have, what I feel, is a sufficient enough answer. Because we love each other or the sex is great don’t quite hit home as sufficient responses. I’m with Tina: what’s love got to do with it? And I can have great sex with anyone after a few lessons.
If we are honest, how many people you know are capable of love according to the 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 definition. You know the verses that are recited at most weddings or, hopefully, taught in most pre-marital sessions. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Now, I imagine that some people have some of these characteristics but what gets me is the “it is” and “always.” When I read the Bible, it says, “God is love”. And the last time I checked, no one was God. We should all be striving to get to that perfection, but we will always be pale in comparison and probably never arrive.
You may be thinking, “Why in the world would she want to get married then?” I think it’s the idea of walking out life with someone and being committed to love them when I don’t even like them that settles things for me. In the Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 verses, it sums it up. Two is always better than one. When one is in a bad place, he/she can count on the other to pull him/her out. Two can keep each other warm. Two can defend themselves. In all the years that I’ve been living, one thing I have learned for sure is that no one can survive and function in a bubble. People need each other. I have watched many of my male friends dodge marriage, but when they were on their sick bed and dying, there was no one to take care of or face those situations with them and they had so much regret about it. I want to grow old with someone other than Lilah and I believe that I’m actually mature enough now to not only say it but do it too. I’ve also had some great sage advice and golden nuggets given to me by many couples who have weathered more than thirty years of marriage. I think it will help.
Today as I give thanks for marriage, I invite you to bless a couple and pour into their marriage. Your blessing may be a financial one to sponsor the couple’s date night, babysitting their children so that the couple can have some time alone or whatever else you choose. Just make sure that it blesses them personally and allows for them to grow and develop the marriage.
Have a Great Day of Thanks