One topic that I normally shy away from writing about on my blog is marriage.
This is because I would never want what I write to suggest that my husband and I have it all together. Anyone who knows us personally knows that is for from true.
Lately, I have felt a gentle nudging from the Lord to reconsider that position. And with such a possibly contentious subject, I wanted to do it right. In order to get my feet wet in writing about marriage, I have decided to begin with what marriage isn’t. I will insert the disclaimer that while there are principles about marriage that I believe scripture is quite clear on, I believe that in some households the methods can look slightly different.
Each person has different needs and own different personalities and are very, well, different. So when I say that to be a decent helpmate to MY husband I sometimes get up, cook his breakfast and pack his lunch , please don’t think that the expectations are the same for you. That if you aren’t doing X, Y and Z then you’re doing it wrong. On the contrary, your husband (or wife) may need help or support from you in different ways and in different areas. This is perfectly OK.
That said, should you find yourself entirely at odds with what I am writing about I ask this: before you comment and call me out, consider two things: if you truly find fault with what I’m saying and believe it to be off the mark, comment and kindly CORRECT me. I do not want to be speaking false doctrine. That is on my “oh-no-no” list (that was a Parks and Rec reference, in case you guys didn’t get it.)
The second is this: if you find yourself at odds over what I’m saying, stop, pray and reflect to see if this is perhaps an issue that the Lord is gently bringing to light in your heart. I have STRUGGLED with certain aspects of my marriage. And no, it all is not perfectly perfect to this day. But we are both growing every day, every month, every year. Both partners in marriage are sinners. And everyone has to wallow through something sometimes.
For time’s sake, and your sanity, this post will be split into two parts.
1. The perfect spouse
…doesn’t exist. Read that again, over and over and over. The perfect spouse is NOT out there. At least not in the context of what we think of a ‘perfect’ spouse being. We are ALL sinners, we all fall short. We will all forget to pay the trash bill or we will leave the milk out on the counter or endlessly snore at night. Whatever annoying tidbit you can think of, you bet your marriage certificate that we ALL have them.
But sometimes, those annoying quirks are actually quite big. A spouse that struggles with communication. A spouse that struggles with impatience. A spouse that struggles with pride. There will always be something that’s troublesome because we are all made of mere flesh and bone. And just to be clear, that “we” includes YOU. You are not perfect either.
It may sound redundant to point that fact out, but then again, how many of us in the past have been 100% convinced in any given situation that we were oh-so right…only to figure out later that maybe we oh-so weren’t. Your spouse will fail you and you will fail your spouse. Sometimes over and over again.
If you enter into marriage prayerfully, than suffice it to say that God has hopefully ordained your union and that you’re with the right person. He will use your spouse to encourage and to edify you. And sometimes, that process is painful and annoying and unpleasant.
If you aren’t a believer, those same principles still apply – HOPEFULLY you desire to be a better person for your spouse and to be the person that they need you to be. Sure, there will be overly romanticized views of each other in the beginning….but then you will come to find out that at 6:34 a.m. they have bed head and morning breath and the rosiness then suddenly fades from the world and gives way to the cold hard reality that it’s gonna take some serious work. You hope, I hope, that over time you would get better at loving your spouse as opposed to getting worse.
Think of your flaws, enhanced under a microscope. That is what happens when two sinful people marry each other, share space, a tube of toothpaste and eventually bump into each other. There will be fights, tears and frustrations. But these things can work out to your benefit – I’ll get to that later.
2. The end goal of marriage is our own personal satisfaction
Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot about marriage that is incredibly rewarding and it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. But if you enter into your union seeking to simply fulfill yourselves, inflate your self-esteem and reach your own personal goals you need to do a serious reality check. If your own happiness is your main mission in marriage then you’re way off the mark.
God created marriage in the garden of Eden and ordained it to be two people who would become spiritually ONE. Which means that there is way more (like, seriously) than JUST YOU and your needs in the picture. This also means that you both have some seriously serious vested interests in one another, and that you should make your partner’s failures or successes your business because your fates are tied together.
Going beyond that, you and your spouse should align your ideas together with what God would have for both of you. Essentially and in a nutshell, that is to allow God to work in your marriage so that it would be a reflection of the gospel and glorifying to Him. But that doesn’t take the fun and joy out of it! How amazing it is when you grow together, you serve the Lord together and you commit your ways to Him.
On more practical level, if each spouse is working 100% of the time to serve and love the other one, then both parties could conceivably be relatively happy. This doesn’t mean that you only serve in order to be served, you serve because it is your joy and your honor to do so. There should be no keeping tabs or mental lists of how many times you had to make the bed or fold the laundry. That’s an oh-no-no.
This also doesn’t mean that each spouse doesn’t have hobbies or pursuits or friendships outside of the walls of marriage. It simply means that you’re putting the other one ahead of yourself every step of the way. I would certainly give my husband the last two slices of bread to make him a sandwich before he heads out the door to go to work because I can figure something out later. Rob takes the trash out pretty much all of the time so that I don’t have to touch any of the ickiness.
And it isn’t because I’m didn’t want a tuna sandwich on wheat or because he totally loves touching garbage – it’s because it’s just what you have to do for each other sometimes. We’d take a bullet for one another, no questions asked. Just don’t ask me if I would touch a Huntsman Spider if Rob’s life depended on it because I literally do not know what I would do.
This is the end of part 1. Please, remove the tape and turn it over, insert tape back into the player and press “play.”
…Or just wait until I post the other part.