My wife and I now have the marriage we have always wanted, but it has not come effortlessly, and there was even a time when neither one of us felt it was worth fighting for.
Trisha and I met at Lincoln Christian College in 1993. I placed a bet with a friend of mine that I could get Trisha to go out with me before the end of the semester. She found out about the bet, and I lost. We became great friends that year, and began dating during the second semester, after I paid my $50 debt.
We were married in the summer of 1995, and began to serve in student ministry. We served churches in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. We moved to Noblesville, Indiana in June of 2002 to start a church to help people find their way back to God.
As the church began to grow, our marriage and my relationship with God began to deteriorate. Despite having three young boys at home and several hundred people attending the three-year-old church we started, I chose to have an affair with a staff member at our church, and seriously considered leaving my wife and family.
Trisha and I were separated for two months and began to go to counseling. I had always gone to church, went to a Christian college, and then became a pastor…I knew I needed grace to go to heaven, but had never been in a place in life where I was desperate for grace and a new start…until then. God showed up with love and grace in a way that I had never experienced before.
In a miraculous way, God gave Trisha a love and mercy for me that paved the way for the restoration of our marriage and family. We have made a lot of mistakes…but God has redeemed us and recreated our marriage in a way that blows our minds every day.
Your Struggles are not Unique
Looking back at that time when our marriage melted down in 2005, Trisha and I thought that the things that we struggled with, the problems that we had and the issues we faced, were unique to us. For the next year and a half, we spent a lot of time identifying our issues, talking about our problems and being honest and transparent about our struggles.
As you start your marriage you will experience the same feeling. You will feel like what you struggle with, no one else struggles with. The arguments you have, the feelings you feel, the fears you face will all feel like they are unique to you. Don’t make the mistake of isolating yourself because you believe no one could possibly understand; because the truth is, couples have dealt with the same issues before, and some have even come out stronger on the other side.
What you need to know is that you are not alone. The things you deal with, everyone deals with. The problems you have, everyone has, or they have and lie that they don’t.
Who Will you Fight for?
A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with a friend who was having some problems in his marriage. He began to walk me through their issues, and they weren’t unique or different or unsolvable. They were real and they were serious, but not exclusive to their relationship. At one point in our conversation, I said to my friend, “What you need to do is fight for your marriage. You are more willing to fight for your career than you are committed to fighting for your marriage.” He replied, “It’s easier to fight with her, than it is to fight for her.”
As you start your marriage, if I can encourage you to do anything, it is to fight for your marriage whatever the cost. Great marriages don’t just happen. You have to fight for it. Marriages drift. Intimacy leaks. Romance fades. You have to fight for these things. What I have seen in my own marriage and in the marriage of so many others is exactly what my friend admitted: often it is easier for us to fight for things in our life that mean so much less than our spouse:
- We fight for our career
- We fight for a bigger house or nicer car
- We fight for the approval of others
- We fight for that promotion
- We fight for our status
- We fight for a business deal
As you start out in marriage it will be so easy to get consumed with life, to spend the best hours of your day fighting for the things that won’t matter in the end. Somewhere along the way, the person that means the most to you will get the least amount of care from us. It will be easier to fight with them, than it will be to fight for them. Keep fighting.
Your wife needs you to fight for her. Your husband needs you to fight for him.
If you want a great marriage, you have to fight for it. If you want to experience intimacy and to be known by your spouse, you will have to fight for it. If you want the marriage you promised to have on the day you said, “I do,” it won’t just happen, you will have to fight for it. And looking back someday, hopefully both of you can say that you did.
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UPDATE: Congratulations to Susanna P. for winning our first daily giveaway, the Keurig Coffeemaker! The winner has been notified by email and will be receiving her prize soon. Susanna’s randomly selected comment was:
What you said is so true. A year and a half ago, my husband and I were well on the way to getting a divorce. I did not think God could fix things by that point. I was angry, hard, and bitter and had convinced myself that I would never be able to love my husband again. Well, God changed all of that in one night! My husband and I have been able to completely forgive each other, and I am now more in love with him more than I thought possible. We will be celebrating our 6 year anniversary this May:) It’s never too late and there is nothing so bad that God cannot work things out for His glory. Thank you.