November 26, 2014

Keeping This Covenant - 4 Misconceptions of Marriage


The white dress. An absolutely, completely in love, my cheeks hurt but I can't stop smiling smile. Handsome suit and a handsome man. Oh the wedding bells do love to ring in every season. This summer alone, we went to eight weddings and turned down invites from six more. Wedding season. Ring by spring. It seems as though everyone and their man is going to the chapel. 

Then, the honeymoon draws to an end and the dirty dishes begin to pile up. But who will wash them while wearing that white dress? Who wants to get messy while donning a tux? Who can truly dance in sync with pinching shoes and sky-high heels on their feet? Life is beautiful, but it's not always pretty. Marriage is sacred, but it's not always fancy. Love is treasured, but it's not always simple. Growth is necessary, but it's hardly ever easy. 

In modern society, we spend so much time dreaming of an event, that the marriage slips to the side. The allure of "true love" sparkles over the troubles of "real love." It's the real love that attracts me. Even during the hard weeks, and there are hard weeks, I am reminded that we chose this road. Even in the midst of the arguments, and I love a good argument, I know that at the end of the day, we will resolve the issue. Even when life gets rough, really rough, I know my husband is still on my team. We might be throwing golf balls at each other and swimming for our lives, but somewhere beneath it all, we're on the same team. There are these misconceptions that float around, dreamy ideas, romantic and sweet, but they're weightless and float away at the first sign of trouble. These are the misconceptions that trouble me and I fight against them every time someone asks me, "So how do you like married life?" 

1. You're marrying your soul mate. 

I don't believe in soul mates. I don't believe in "finding your true love" or the "Prince Charming" scenario. If Blake and I's paths had never crossed, I'm sure we would have been just fine. Callous? I don't think so. You see, I don't believe that Blake is my "soul mate". I don't believe that he "completes" me. I was a whole person before I met my husband, and I never want to put the pressure on him to fill up a part of me that was never his responsibility to fill. Is my life truly enriched and so much better with him in it? Well of course. Yet I hope that if something were ever to happen to me, he wouldn't spend the rest of his life alone. There are so many people in this world who can enrich our lives in so many different ways. We could have loved and married other people and lived entirely different lives, but we made a choice to choose each other. That's marriage. It's not always romantic and we don't always fit together like Snow and Charming, but knowing that a choice, not a fleeting idea of a "one true love" is behind our marriage, is beautiful. 

2. If you don't make each other happy, it's not working.  

Alright, folks, I am not a total cynic. Chances are, yes, you will make each other happy...but this not what marriage is about. You will feel mad, thrilled, ecstatic, lonely, warm n' fuzzy...if there's an emotion, marriage will bring it out. At the end of the day, those emotions, while important in how they're addressed and handled, are not the goal of marriage. If I got married on the sole reason that "Blake makes me happy." Oh what a sad moment it would have been, after those vows were said, when Blake...like it or not, did not make me happy.  Marriage isn't about how happy you make each other. It's about choosing the other person in happiness and in sadness. There's so much depth to be found beyond "happy", sorrow and anger and loss and joy bring so much more to the table then one single flat emotion. In happy moments, be happy...but in hard moments, recognize that this is where the true character of a godly marriage can shine through. In selfless acts of love, in kindness, in patience...marriage is more than making your spouse "feel" any certain way.

3. An argument is the sign of an endangered marriage. 

 I love to argue. Slowly (I dare not say "but surely"), I am trying to curb this pattern. Arguing for arguing's sake is time consuming and worthless. Still, healthy arguments can teach valuable lessons. If handled properly (and that is key), you can argue constructively. When there is a constructive argument, the end result can help your marriage far more effectively then an angry silent treatment ever will. Now, can I tell you how to argue effectively? Nope. This is where it gets tricky, and I proudly proclaim that I am no expert. This is where I pass the baton and say, "Go talk to a marriage counselor/pastor/mentor/anyone who offers solid, Biblical and healthy advice." I am simply here to say that there will be arguments, and when they come, they do not mean that your marriage is doomed to failure. If you learn how to be kind in disagreements, be patient, be understanding, and work together to find an end goal, then disagreeing can still have a positive outcome. Learn to argue with respect for each other, with calm emotions, and with love... and you'll begin to argue less.

4. You love the person you married. 

I loved Blake with all my heart when we said, "I do." Six months later, I loved him even more...but if I held onto the person he was when we met, it would be easy to let myself become bitter. One constant in life is change. Situations change. Jobs change. Homes change. Babies are born and our loved ones leave this earth. Life moves forward. And people change. When I think back to who I was five years ago, I am so happy to see the progress in my life and the ways I have grown. In five years, I hope I can look back on who I am now and think the same thoughts. Yet, if I held onto my husband, the one who was standing at the alter with me only a year and a half ago, I would be sorely disappointed. In just a short period of time, he has moved to a foreign country with me, relocated once more, started a new job, gone through an intense transition within his workplace, and comforted friends and family during hard seasons of life. To ask him to remain the same would be disrespectful to who he is. Likewise, if he only loved me for who I was when we got married, the "a little-bit-sweeter" college student who worried too much about getting all A's...well, he would come short every day. We have been sharpened and shaped since we said, "I do." Change is hard. Sometimes it's painful. I know there will be days when I don't like the person I see in the mirror or the person standing next to me. I'll love them anyways. I don't love my husband because of who he is or who he has the potential to be, I love him because I made a covenant to love him until death do us part. Love grows. It looks differently at different times of life. Sometimes it looks differently week to week. But I cannot hold onto what it was in the past if I want to completely live in the present. I loved the person who stood next to me not too long ago at the alter, but I know, for the sake of our marriage, that my heart has to love the man who is growing mentally, spiritually, and emotionally every day of our marriage. He might begin to look very different from how he used to, but I choose him. Every day. Every year. Every moment. 

~

I loved wearing that white dress. I loved seeing all my friends and family members in one place. I loved the moment when Blake turned around and saw me on our wedding day for the first time. I loved the wedding. Still, my heart doesn't leap out of my chest when I think about our wedding in the same way it does when I think about the years to come being married. We are striving to be holy within this union. That is our end goal, our purpose. As we keep this covenant, life begins to look differently. The moments are small, the joys are abundant. This is our journey. Filled with passion, joy, and faithfulness. Marriage forces the cynic in me to take a step back and acknowledge that with God, all things are possible. May we ever be on the road to understanding this more deeply and embracing the call laid before us. To love as Christ has loved us. No facades. No illusions. No tightly held grip to imaginary romances. Instead, with whitened fingers holding on to old battered truths, we cling to the sacrament of marriage, the real words, the real commitment, as we take each day for what it is...a chance to be Jesus to each other when the dishes are piling up.








Disclaimer:
 In no way do I support abusive or unhealthy relationships. These thoughts are gathered from my own experiences within a healthy relationship and are by no means offered as a solution to deeper issues relating to problems not discussed within the article.