It was 5:00 am when I secretly stared at my husband while he shaved. His form was highlighted amidst the dark by the vanity light. For eons, he’s followed the same morning routine to prepare for work. I’m honored to share life with him. In earlier decades I’d have been taking children to the bathroom or changing diapers. There was no time to stare then. He rinsed and dried his face, then turned to discover me. We smiled big and shared a tight hug.
Being married to Tom has exceeded my expectations and has enriched my life more than I could have imagined. In sync with my relationship with Jesus, marriage has transformed me.
What were my expectations for marriage? I wanted someone who’d be faithful to God, who would love my children and who’d stay. My children needed a father and I wanted a partner. My requirements had altered and matured along with me since my failed first marriage at twenty. Back then, I just wanted someone to make me happy.
I haven’t always looked at Tom with such wonder. On a blind date when we’d just met, I glanced his way while he drove. I wasn’t accustomed to his appearance and personality; he seemed nerdy and quirky. Was he good-looking enough? Would I get tired of looking at him? The memories make me smile.
These days I can’t stop looking at him because I know our time together is finite. Eventually, only one of us will be here. We’re steeped together like strong tea. The thought of living without him is unimaginable. I could no more separate myself from him than I could pull myself away from my head or arm.
I love his hands and their frequent touches. Why didn’t I look at them before? He grasps the hand of Dawn, our disabled adult daughter, and guides her. He hammered thousands of nails when he built our Nottingham home many years ago. He’s made my coffee over 13,000 times, even though he doesn’t touch the stuff. (I did the math.)
I wish I’d paused more often to really focus on him. The sideways smirk when he tries to be funny. The warmth of his eyes.
Gratitude engulfs me.
Marriage is a marvelous mystery. Its purpose is hidden in the relationship between Jesus and His Bride. Before time began, God designed marriage to mirror the oneness and love shared by Christ and His Body.
How shallow to have only been thinking of myself when I sought marriage. It’s much more than two humans saying I do. God has given us the unimaginable privilege to reflect the relationship we Christians have with Jesus Christ. Our marriage was never meant to be all about me. It’s about our covenant. It’s a tangible picture of Jesus’ love and sacrifice.
It hasn’t always been great. A lot of years were hard. There were years when we lived separately under the same roof. Because of Tom’s work, he was away, one long day after another, while I cared for the children and managed the home. I was exhausted and angry. It was a terrible situation. When he finally came home, I’d “greet” him with a shrug. I feared we’d never be close again.
Difficulties are part of every marriage. We can give up when we’re miserable, or let those awful experiences change us for good. If we keep our wedding-day promises, we might discover a more beautiful relationship right around the corner.
Oneness doesn’t come with a soundtrack of angels strumming harps above us. It occurs in spite of our self-righteousness and strong wills. We take wobbly steps toward Jesus and each other. Proximity deepens intimacy.
We’re flawed people. It’s hard to deny ourselves and put each other first. Selfishness is our default. Over time, God changes us from the inside out and helps us to conform to His purpose for our lives and marriage.
Marriage sanctifies us. It is a tool to transform us as we lovingly live with our mates over the years. As Tim Keller puts it, we become our glory selves.
Because of our promises to each other (and to the Lord) we knew to never give up. We went through the proper motions, even when the feelings weren’t there. We made it through the hard times.
Today we hate to be apart. The years of moving towards God and each other have forged us into a union that I couldn’t have imagined in the early years.
Tom stayed. I got far more than answered prayers. We’ve become one, and our life is full. We cherish each other. We see the same honed love in our married friends. We have differences, of course, but the little irritants don’t bother us like they once did.
If you’re married, how’s it going? What season is your marriage in? Are you deep in the trenches? If so, hang on! Marriage can be better than you think.
Move towards the Lord and each other, especially when you want to pull away. Renew your vows and work through challenges with a renewed commitment to love through actions. Get help from a professional when you need it. Put your spouse ahead of everyone else.
Find joy in the mystery God created. You’ll be glad you did.