Advertising to the bridal community has done a wonderful job repackaging marriage. In many instances, a wedding has been whittled down to a meager exchange of friendship hearts between best friend or posh celebration at the latest venue . Thumbing through a bridal magazine, brides have clear complexions, effervescent smiles and trim silhouettes. Grooms aren’t vilified; they are still knights in shining armor brides faint for. The unfortunate realities about being married are glossed over at best. Sure, you’re going to wake with bad breath, an occasional stinky fart will escape and you’ll disagree, but it won’t be unbearable.
When you’re a marriage outsider you’re unaware that creating careers or restarting when an industry dries up can smother a marriage. That trying to build the life a couple dreams of will also work to tear them apart. If someone were to explain the difficulties of marriage, it would fall on naïve ears believing their love is unique and will defy all statistics. I can’t help but laugh when I revisit my moment under love’s spell. Sitting in the passenger’s seat of my dad’s car on a sunny California afternoon I proclaimed my unwavering love for my now husband. “I know it will be difficult dad, we won’t be rich, but we communicate so well and love each other so much….money can’t buy happiness.” Umm, yes, that’s nearly verbatim.
You may be waking to one of these moments in your marriage feeling isolated and betrayed. Anticipating a spouse to grow into a better version of the person you married, you’ve been blindsided because the opposite has occurred. Enduring daily arguments, blows to your character and intense loneliness are overwhelming and difficult to cope with alone. Well-intentioned friends may ill-advise you to dissolve the marriage because, “Your happiness is all that matters”, right?
Feeling alone and without hope of pulling through, depression and apathy quickly set in. But God never leaves us without hope. Like distant family, we include God at important events and forget He is with us always. When we wake to the disaster two committed sinners have created, He is still wholly present. Regardless of what your spouse believes, the impossible becomes possible the moment you invite God to be the voice of your marriage.
Imagine soldiers in the midst of an intense battle. Together they must fight to survive. Should one become injured, the other must become stronger, protecting and carrying both to a refuge. Accepting that marriage is a constant battlefield between the outside stresses of life and internal battle between two sinners, we realize there isn’t time for a husband or wife to be a distracted victim, nursing wounds and forgetting to run to the aid of the other. When under attack, one must rise above bruised egos and frustrations to the protection of a spouse and marriage. The initial love that blinded the flaws and overlooked shortcomings was a small taste of a richer love we cannot live a lifetime giving without God, the life-giving love we must cultivate
In this real moment of confusion and pain, will you believe that the Lord wants to help and heal the whole you? His plan is perfect, but not without pain. The sting of the process is completely surrendering oneself to be used by God. This counter-cultural lifestyle means we give up our alleged rights; we give up being a victim and find ourselves true ambassadors for God. When we look at the cross of Christ and recognize our sins that nailed Him to the cross arrogance is silenced and the worst wound becomes insignificant. We are able to endure because we have a Savior who endured; we are able to forgive because we have been forgiven. Here we encounter a lifetime of love that overcomes and conquers.
A wrecked marriage isn’t something money can heal. It’s not a cause you can provide assistance for by collecting donations. It starts with the full surrender of one spouse willing to take a radical step of faith. The one truth to all the princess stories is that only true love can conform a beast or return the frog to a prince. God’s true love expressed through you can save your spouse and your marriage. It’s time to become blind to frustrating idiosyncrasies and minor blows to our egos, both ultimately the equivalent of stubbing a toe. Will you courageously ask God to heal your heart and receive His power to show surrendered love to your spouse?