Lasting Love: in the Trenches

In honor of Valentine’s day I wanted to write a meaningful blog on marriage.  I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head it will be difficult to get them sorted into any cohesive post…but here is my best shot:

First- what love isn’t; love is NOT lust.  I’m aware 50 shades of Grey is hitting the theaters today.  That isn’t love.  Love is the highest expression of the spark of the divine that exists in our humanity.  Love is about giving honor, cherishing, altruism, commitment… not using, abusing, and manipulating to satisfy the basest desires of human nature.

I am not an expert.  I am just someone who has managed to go through (almost) 8 years of life with my husband and manage to stay in love…in a culture of divorce and hook-ups.

Neither my husband or I had a stellar example of marriage.  We both came from broken families.  Before I gave my life to the Lord I didn’t have a particularly high view of marriage.  Marriage really isn’t celebrated or highly esteemed in our culture.

So when we got married we had to find out how to do things successfully by trial and error.

From the beginning we knew it was life.  Divorce is not an option.  Swim or sink together.

Life can be very rocky and hard at times.  A spouse is a gift from God, a partner in life; to weather those storms with.  Not only weathering storms but building a lifetime of precious memories with.  Not only precious memories but the children God gives.  No one else will ever love your kids as much as your spouse.  No one else knows all the inside jokes and memories- some sweet, funny, or sad.

You spouse is your biggest gift from God.  Marriage works great when you treat them as such.

We aren’t perfect.  We literally just got into a fight over- the kid’s bedtime.  Yep.  Sometimes the stress of life gets to you and you take it out on your spouse.  Just don’t make a habit of it.  Remember you are partners together.  You two against the world.

Marriage is a divine picture of Christ and his church.  Ephesians 5:32  God makes a commitment to us.  He promises to never leave or forsake us; for better or worse.  That is how we are to love our spouses.  What is marriage but two broken people coming together?  How can we show the world the love of Christ when we can’t even be faithful to love our God-given spouses?

Marriage means swallowing your pride.  I can’t tell you how many times I have went to pray (after a fight with Tim) when God tells me in no uncertain terms that He will not hear my prayer.  I need to apologize for my part in the fight and then I can pray.  That means being willing to apologize even if you are still angry.   “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27

Practice contentment and thankfulness towards your spouse.  Don’t focus on the little things that bug you.  Focus on the things you love and appreciate.  Remember, you have your annoying ‘things’ too.  Don’t put your spouse down in front of people, ever.  You are supposed to be the one person that always has their back, right?  Don’t you want them to always speak highly of you?

Don’t nag and don’t withhold affection.  So he didn’t freak out and nearly faint over the vision of beauty that is your new hairstyle.  So you feel like he doesn’t listen to you half the time.  Newsflash: men are dense about those things.  They just are.  Love him anyways.  When we let our feelings stay hurt and start withholding affection we are just shooting ourselves and our partners in the foot.  It isn’t you against them.  It is both of you working for the best marriage possible.  That is the goal.  Not ‘winning’.  If you ‘win’ and they lose where does that leave the plural ‘you’?  Marriage is all about the plural ‘you’.  The single ‘you’ is gone.

Marriage means you said yes to that person and ‘no’ to everyone else.  Forever.  Don’t entertain straying thoughts.  Don’t go to movies that ignite unholy lust (hello 50 shades of Degradation!).  The system of lust promises a lot but delivers something significantly different.  The cost is always more than anticipated.  And far worse when there are children involved.  So much of a kid’s well-being and sense of identity is tied up in their parent’s marriage.  If mommy and daddy are happy then the kids feel safe and secure.  If mommy and daddy are separating, bringing b.f.’s and g.f.’s into the picture or whatever- that security is gone and they are affected to the core of who they are.

Let’s all be real and grown-up for a bit and admit that temptation is going to come.  Sometimes it will be really strong.  Sometimes it will be persistent.  You don’t get married and then become blind to the opposite sex, unfortunately.  Strong attractions might happen.  Worse they are likely to come when you and your spouse are going through a rough patch.  That is when you take your stand.  You made the vows.  You probably made kids together.  Are you going to honor them?  Are you going to throw it away for some fling (that statistics overwhelming show don’t last)?

Marriage is sometimes hard.  Marriage is worth it.

I know I want to end up a little old lady someday still holding my husbands hand.  Still laughing or tearing up over a lifetime of precious memories.  Marriage is precious.  Marriage is sacred.  Marriage is a gift.

old-couple-holding-hands

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

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