Monday, June 3, 2013

MAY-WIDGE... IS WHAT BWINGS US TO-GEV-UH, TOO-DAY.

So, you're getting married!

Congratulations!  The sun is shining, the birds are singing...  the dress is altered, the tuxes are ready for pick up.  The photographer is booked (shameless plug for my new business), the cake is ordered, and ready to go, the location has been selected, the flowers are in bloom.  The preacher is ready, the singer is ready, the flower girls are ready.  Mom is trying to keep it together and dad is trying not to cry over the amount of money you've just spent on this whole shabang....

But all in all, it seems like everything is ready.  So let's go!  Let's jump in and do this!

Right?  Isn't that the way it works?

Uh... yeah.  In far too many marriages, this IS the way it always seems to go.  But aren't we forgetting a few things?

In the midst of wedding season, I am sad to say that I am faced with several friends who are contemplating divorce.  It's what I refer to as the divorce epidemic....  It seems that so many have forgotten all about their beautiful day- their $20,000 day that was supposed to seal the deal on the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, many couples spend all of their time focusing on the wedding day, and they forget to spend time investing in the marriage itself.  I'm not a counselor by trade, not even a little bit, but my friends know our past struggles and have reached out to me to ask how we've come so far.

Eleven years isn't a marathon by any means.  My grandparents were married almost 55 years- THAT's a marathon.   As I prepare to celebrate eleven years of marriage to my precious husband, I'm looking at the end of a 300M dash.  I can only fathom what this will all look like in hindsight if I am blessed to be able to do life with this man for another 40+ years.

None-the-less, I've tried to learn from each of our struggles- hence, this blog.  Like I said, I'm no expert.  I'm not judging or condemning.  Whether you're newly married, on your second or third marriage, single, contemplating divorce, considering engagement, or somewhere in between, this information has radically changed my life, so take a few moments and listen up!  These are in order as they come to mind- not necessarily order of importance.

1.  Think back to your wedding day.  Whether the event was a lavish, extravagant event with hundreds of spectators or a simple moment between you, your spouse, and the JP in Vegas- it was still your wedding day and it still matters.  Why?  Because you spoke vows on that day.  I know, in all likelihood you were just excited to get to the honeymoon- and there's nothing wrong with wanting to go on the honeymoon, but did you really consider what you were jumping in to?  When you say I DO, you're saying I WILL-

  • I WILL stay with you, no matter how difficult life gets.
  • I WILL commit to doing my part to make this marriage work.
  • I WILL stay with you no matter how much, or how little we have.
  • I WILL stay with you in sickness and in health (in depression, in obesity, in the midst of your struggle with cancer or diabetes... NO MATTER WHAT).
  • I WILL honor you at all times.
  • I WILL strive to work through each of our problems as they come, and I will not allow these things to divide us.
  • I WILL exhaust every single measure possible to save this marriage- DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION.
  • I WILL NEVER seek fulfillment outside of this marriage (including looking at pornography, extramarital affairs, even emotional fulfillment from another).
  • I WILL NEVER give up on you- no matter how I "feel".
*Please note that I understand there are extenuating circumstances, such as physical or sexual abuse and I realize the need at that point to separate for safety sake.  I'm referring to the rest of the marriages, here.

2.  FYI- DC Talk said it best when they penned the words: LOVE IS A VERB. Look at what it says in The Bible: "There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another." John 15:13. Seriously, folks.  "I just don't love you anymore" is why you break up with your boyfriend- NOT why you break up with your husband or wife.  I'm sorry if you don't "feel" in love, or if you don't "feel" loved.  Suck it up.  I know that sounds harsh, but you didn't commit to stay with that person until it wasn't all peaches and roses. You committed to stay with that person until death do you part.  Period.  End of story.  I know my grandparents argued.  And knowing how strong willed they both were, I'd be willing to bet some of those fights were doozies...  But even still, after 55 years of marriage, he kissed her every day and spun her around the kitchen blissfully in a beautiful display of adoration and affection.  

Likewise, I watched my husband stay with me in and out of depression, in and out of my choice to look for affirmation and attention outside of our marriage (even after almost having an affair), in and out of my struggles with weight, in and out of feeling loved... and truthfully, HE is the one who said "I'm not giving up, period."  Even when I contested "But it's just too hard!"  Or how about this one "This is just not a healthy environment for our kids!" Because... you know... it would have been so much healthier if we had divorced, right?  

Taken from Ephesians 5:
"21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.  25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."

Folks, I don't know any other way to say this, so I'll just come right out with it- ladies (and men) we need to put on our big kid panties and realize what we're looking at here.  Marriage isn't a game.  It isn't always easy, but it's always worth it.  Marriage is about sacrificing, laying down your rights to your own life, and giving up everything for the sake of the commitment you made in front of God and in front of your spouse.  We saw it right there in Ephesians 5- you are UNITED as one when you marry.  Not when you date, but when you marry.  So saying you don't "love" someone anymore just doesn't cut it- nor should it... because love isn't a feeling- that's where so many are confused.  Love is an action- love is staying even when there has been infidelity (and I have seen this works out multiple times for God's glory), even when you are bankrupt, even when you just can't see how you will ever be happy with this person again.  Love is setting aside what you believe you are entitled to, and walking in obedience- because God said so....  not because it  "feels" good at the time.  Love is looking at another person's flaws and choosing to love them, to build them up, to encourage them and walk along side of them EVEN IF THEY NEVER CHANGE (all the while hoping and praying for God to move in their lives.)  Love is seeing your spouse in quicksand (like depression) and instead of walking away to save yourself, you grab the nearest branch or rope, and you never. leave.  NO. MATTER. WHAT.  

You are not entitled to happiness.  You are not entitled to an easy life.   None of us is entitled...  

But there is a beautiful truth to all of this- a freedom that comes from knowing God.  And that brings me to point number 3:

  • 3.Marriage apart from God may last because you "will" it to, because you endure.  I'm pretty sure even I could run a marathon if I committed to training and not giving up. But Jesus didn't come so that we could just "endure", He came so that we could have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).  God desires to lead us to marriages that are fulfilled- not always easy, but always worth it.  He desires to use the difficult times to strengthen and mold us.  I heard of a book once called SACRED MARRIAGE.  The authors of the book emphasize that the purpose of marriage is to make us holy, and not happy.  I agree.  God never said "Get married and ride off in to the sunset.... and live happily ever after."  He did say several times that we are to trust Him- trust Him when it's good, trust Him when it's not so good, trust Him when it seems impossible.  He has a plan to use your marriage- whatever state your marriage is in- for His glory.  I don't always understand why things don't work out.   I don't understand why some people seem to have it so easy, and others seem to live in a perpetual state of struggle.  But I do know this- God is God, and God is good.  He will use all of this to shape and mold us in to the people He created us to be.  So whether our marriages are good, bad, or ugly, if we trust Him, if we cling to Him, He will carry us and He will bless us.  


So, Bridezilla, let me challenge you.  Before you make life a living Hell for all who surround you, consider that maybe the day you're starving yourself for, the day you're working so hard to perfect, the event you're pouring all of mommy and daddy's hard-earned money in to isn't the day you should be focusing on.  Yes, it can be beautiful and wonderful, a picturesque event to be remembered for years to come.  But if that's your focus, I am fairly certain your marriage will not survive.  So stop pouring every bit of time and energy in to making that day perfect because trust me when I say- it's not the uniform that defines the runner.  It's the level of commitment that runner has chosen in his training and in his decision to finish the race set before him.  I used to be a swimmer.  When I swam laps in the pool, if I just swam with no goal, no end point or focus, I would run in to other people or other lanes every single time.  But when I focused on the cross in front of me, I was able to finish the race successfully... without too many collisions.  

So let me ask you- where is your focus?  Are you just kind of floating through this race, hoping to get to the end, or are you running fast and hard with your eyes fixed on the one who created the course?

Today, I am so, so thankful for the challenges and struggles we have been blessed to endure.  I can see how God has radically transformed (and is still transforming) both of us.  Our marriage isn't perfect, but we are both equally committed to honoring God and staying the course... no matter what. 

So, dear friend, congratulations!  Thanks for letting me jump on my wedding day soap box, momentarily.  

How about tomorrow we discuss the "after-wedding" or the honeymoon?  ;)

That's all for now!


NO LONGER I,

The Real Life Mom... and wife.  






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