Marriage is such a fluid thing. I am amazed by how much my relationship with Chris has changed over the past three years. First, the fear, then the falling in love, then marriage. But since then even more. First there was the honeymoon stage. The constantly wanting to be together, and alone. Being totally wrapped up in each other and living for the time we got to spend together. The time when snuggling on the couch was the happiest place to be. The time when every day was a date and every night was a sleep over. The time when nothing he did could bother me, not really even those socks that were always on the floor or the dishes that never made it to the dishwasher. Who cared? It was my purpose and joy to serve the man I loved.
Chris and I were at a wedding a few months ago and I felt an ache, a longing for those times to come back, when it was just the two of us and everything was so easy and happy.
Pregnancy changed things a bit. I was so sick and so tired. Chris was frustrated at work, and then starting a new job. I didn’t always want to be touched and he wasn’t always as aware of my needs. I felt guilty for not keeping up with the cleaning and cooking as well and for not being as quick to recognize his needs. But life was still good.
Then the baby came. Talk about your world being turned upside down. Miles seemed to take every last ounce of energy and attention I had. I remember crying one night, just a few days after Miles was born, because I didn’t feel like I’d even seen my husband since coming home from the hospital. I missed him and I needed his strong support to get through those rough days, but he was overwhelmed and sleep deprived too. A baby doesn’t mean all hard things, but it does mean an awful lot of change, no matter how you look at it. Our world was no longer just the two of us. There was someone else to think about now.
I started to get more and more frustrated with Chris. Little things, but things I no longer had the time or energy to deal with. I hated being upset with him. I felt guilty.
I had to work really hard to get through that time. I had to pray lots, evaluate and give up some expectations, and most of all communicate with my husband in ways I never had to before. I chose to focus on the good in him, and guess what, once I looked for it there was so much to be found. I was reminded again what a fantastic, funny, loving, selfless, godly man I had married. And he is an amazing father.
I’m thankful every moment of our marriage so far hasn’t been easy. We have grown so much closer together because of it. There were moments when it scared me, but we have grown and that is the whole point, I think. And always, hard moments are there to push us to God. If I married a perfect man I wouldn’t have need of God. Something I always pray is that Chris and I would know and serve God better together than we could separately. I don’t think I originality realized how much our weaknesses as well as our strengths would enable that to happen.
A couple weeks ago Chris and I were at another wedding, Miles in tow. This time as I watched the couple, I was struck by how unseasoned and, well, new their relationship was and I was happy to find how satisfied I am with were we are right now. I love my husband more than ever, and I trust him more than ever too. Our world is bigger than just the two of us now, and I hope it continues to grow as we see more of God. I know we will always keep some of that “newlywed love” but I’m glad for change and growth as well. I think we are happier now than we have ever been.
Marriage is amazing.
There was a time when I honestly would rather have remained single. I saw marriage as okay for some, but certainly not the thing for me. I loved my relationships -with God, my family, and my friends- just as they were. I was so happy with where God had me and I didn’t want it to change. I didn’t want to give it up for something new, untested, and, inevitably, harder. Looking back, I am glad I was content. I am so thankful I didn’t waste years wishing for a time that hadn’t come yet. But I also wish I hadn’t fought the change so hard.
Marriage, and now motherhood, have made me a much more rounded, mature woman. It is amazing to look back and see. The stability I see in my life now is amazing. I have learned things I absolutely never would have had I stayed single. I know God now in a way I never could have. Life feels so much more complete, more full. It is good. I really believe God means for most people to marry. Of course there are those He does not, and that is wonderful too! But I know beyond doubt that He does not mean to leave us in that stage of 20-something freedom. We are all supposed to move on and continue to grow up. And it is good.
I am enjoying the experience and wisdom and stability that is slowly growing in me. (I know that sounds quite silly to say at only 25, but I completely recognize it as a process. I’m sure after 20 more years of marriage, or maybe just 2, I will look back and think “What a baby I was!” But that’s ok too.) I am thankful for the hard times and the weakness that has produced so much good. I’m glad marriage and motherhood is hard. It is a good hard, a learning hard. God created us to do hard things. It is fulfilling.
I am seeing a growing trend in unmarried Christian girls. High expectations. To put it bluntly, these girls want to marry Jesus. I’m glad they don’t want to settle for less than God’s best, but really, girls? I think this philosophy comes, in part, from the verses in Ephesians that draw a parallel between husbands and wives, and Christ and the church. Husbands are shown to be the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church. From this, the conclusion is drawn that the husband is supposed to be Jesus in the relationship. He has the responsibility to model with precision the perfection of Jesus Himself. A girl then begins to hope that the truly perfect man is out there, and begin to build castles in the sky and wait for Jesus to come along, sweep her off her feet with spiritual dazzle, and proceed to live a perfectly selfless life where he edifys and exhorts her in all the ways of God, loves her through all her shortcomings, shares with her in endless joy, as they together serve God in world impacting ways.
It doesn’t work that way. I absolutely believe that a man should aspire to be a picture of Jesus to his wife, and surrender himself to the working of the Holy Spirit to that end, but the wife has the exact same responsibility to her husband. We are all to be pictures of Jesus to everyone we interact with, filled more and more with Him each day.
Another part of this is found in 1 Corinthians and is something I really struggled with myself. ”There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” And the question begs an answer, if being married would distract me from knowing Him, why in the world would I want to get married anyway? It would have to be a pretty amazing man.
And so the standard is set elusively high and a girl is frustrated and confused, or simply wonders what our world is coming to, when there are no good men to be found.
In reality, God’s purpose for marriage is for two sinful human beings to love and live together in their mutual pursuit of Him. There is so much to be learned from close contact with someone else’s imperfections. There is so much to be enjoyed from life with a still learning man. There is such closeness to be found in pursuing holiness together, and in those moments when you have to exchange “I was wrong”s and “I forgive you”s there is beauty. I am so thankful that neither I, or my husband, is perfect. I am thankful that we can, step by step, learn to know and love God together.
Girls, you already have Jesus. Marry a man.