Fifteen years Nineteen years ago we married, mainly because we were infatuated with each other and thought it would be cool to get to share a house. God’s direction and miraculous grace on those two wayward young people cannot be measured, as I ponder the depth and growth of our love–he’s my husband, my teacher, my best friend.
Marriages are built, not fallen into. They are tended, not run on autopilot. You must intentionally spend time growing marriage. The years are made of weeks, the weeks days, and the days moments. And what happens in those moments is what a marriage becomes.
I’ve learned a lot in the last fifteen years, mostly about myself and how much a good marriage depends on our choices. But there’s a disclaimer: My husband is a rock star. You know, not in the literal sense, just that he makes marriage easy and I think he’s awesome. He hardly ever, ever, ever gets mad at me. That’s worth a gold medal. He listens to me and takes to heart my thoughts, feelings and opinions. He likes to make me happy. He serves me and never keeps score. (He isn’t perfect, but you know that, because he is human.) And even with a man like that, a marriage could easily falter and break under the weight of daily cares and careless neglect. I can still find things to complain about–we all can, because we’re human and sinful and selfish.
Two big things I’ve learned in my fifteen years:
1. Expectations will destroy your marriage or at least make it miserable.
2. Choosing to see the best in your spouse makes all the difference.
We see those with whom we live under a microscope (too bad we don’t see ourselves that way enough). Marriage is work because it requires us to keep liking a person even though we know all his faults and even though we are more familiar with him than anyone. (Why does “familiarity too often breed contempt”?)
But that should be just the sweetness of marriage: the intimacy to know a person and be known, and still be unconditionally loved. Because a person who can love another person, despite faults and humanness, is a person who has chosen to live in forgiveness, loving as he wishes to be loved.
And the person receiving full acceptance and love, despite shortcomings, is a person who has found a safe reprieve from everything harsh and scary in the world.
And what if we were more careful with the gift of a spouse? What if we smiled at him like we smile at our friends? Like we are glad when he comes home? What if we picked up his clothes gratefully, remembering how painful it would be if tomorrow there were no clothes because there was no husband? What if we found little ways to make his life easier or more fun? What if we didn’t complain so much about what we don’t have or what needs to be fixed and just expressed gratitude for the good things? What if we remembered to joke around, play pranks and in general, lighten up? What if we really worked on making him enjoy being with us, looking forward to us?
Here’s the part that hurts to write: I’m learning it, but I’m still not good at living it. I still create expectations and allow myself disappointment if they’re not met; I can still be so quick to point out his faults when there are ten of mine own staring me in the face. I am often far too careless, taking his gentleness and goodness for granted.
I’m learning from him. Because he loves without expectation and he forgives as if it’s the first offense. He pretends to be blind to my faults and that is amazing to me.
Is this how Jesus loves His bride?
Surely it’s close.
Thank you, my beloved, for putting flesh on real love for me.