Why do we get married? Isn’t it because we desperately want to be with the other person—because we can’t live without him.
What happens when our romantic feelings change? When the daily grind replaces the wining dining and swooning. Offenses get under our skin and we either choose to pull away from each other or work together on our issues. Marriage can be blissful or miserable, largely based on the choices we make.
Have you ever been in a dimly lit restaurant and you notice that couple. A woman and man each bent over their phones, the glow of the screen casting a soft light on their faces as they scroll through images. You say to yourself, “Yep they’re married.” Or conversely, you spot a couple playfully touching, chatting easily and demonstrably, and you say, “Definitely NOT married.”
What’s wrong with this picture?
If that’s what the marriage relationship looks like in public, what does it look like at home? Not the Instagram shots; but the real life shared behind closed doors.
I want a long, happy, vibrant and fun marriage.
I want people to wonder if we’re married when they see us. Sometimes we hold hands while we walk, and I imagine folks looking at us and saying, “Look at that cute couple; they must have found each other on Silver Singles.”
I read about a 100-year-old woman who’s shared 82 years of marriage with her husband who is 103. When asked their secret she answered, “Just be nice to each other.” Wow, how simple but profound.
What is your “nice barometer” registering? Are you nicer to strangers than to your husband? Who usually garners your complaints and bad attitude?
It’s pretty common for us all to let our guard down among those who make us feel safe and those we love the most. And what a good thing to have safe people in our lives. But, I’ve noticed over the years, that it’s not expedient for me to share every feeling or gripe with my dear husband, especially if he’s the focus of my wrath.
Honestly, I’m embarrassed that I was married a lot of years before I figured this out.
I once thought I needed to tell him everything. I learned to ask myself, is this offense important enough for me to even mention? I also thought of intentions. Overwhelmingly, I know my husband Tom has good intentions toward me. Maybe there was a slight oversight in judgement or he was in a hurry and didn’t make the same decision I would have made. Most spouses don’t intend to be malicious.
And that brings up another important point. Who creates the standards for right and wrong in the thousands of tiny choices we make in our married life together? I acted as if I was the expert on all standards. Subconsciously I assumed I was always right.
I heard a podcast the other day when the woman being interviewed said this: “I thought our becoming one meant that my husband and I would become like me.” I laughed because that’s precisely what I thought without even realizing it.
Where is improvement needed in your marriage?
Are you able to take the virtual log out of your own eye (Matthew 7:3) so you can see the sawdust in your husband’s eye? I’m preaching to myself here. Why does another’s irritant come into such clear view when my bigger offense goes unnoticed (by me)?
- Is your marriage worth fighting for? We fight for and sacrifice for our friends and our children. We champion the causes of needy people we don’t even know. We may virtually get into peoples’ faces on Facebook and argue for specific causes. Do we ever put up our dukes and fight for our marriages?
- We throw elaborate parties to celebrate our friends. How can we celebrate our number one person? Marriage is about choosing the ONE. There is only space for one top priority.
- Have we thoughtfully paused long enough to put our phones down; to listen with a smile? Are we willing to set aside whatever matter has our immediate attention and cheerfully greet our spouse each day?
- Do we spontaneously offer a loving touch or words of appreciation? Do we “speak” to him in his love language even if we’re not naturally fluent?
- In summary, do we treat our husbands the way we want to be treated?
The goal in marriage is to be together until death. But what if it’s just too hard to keep our part of the promise?
Long ago I learned that I’m completely lost and inadequate without Jesus. As a Christ-follower I depend on Him for every single thing in my life. When Jesus left the earth, He sent His Holy Spirit— the Helper— in order for us to know how to live. He reminds us of truth and guides us. As in all other areas of life, we need Him in this marriage venture. I’m convinced that with Him marriage can be the most glorious companionship on earth.
As C. S. Lewis writes, Love as distinct from ‘being in love’ is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. Being in love first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.