My family and I recently visited the US Space and Rocket center in Huntsville, AL. We spent an entire day walking through and experiencing the history of NASA’s space program. It was a remarkable day that captured the attention of us all, even my 5 year old. I am in awe of how we were able to send men and women into space and bringing them home safely. My brain can not comprehend how a spaceship is built, much less the components necessary to get it to space and to sustain life, and then bring it home.
While I have no first hand experience in the area of rocket science, I do know that it is possible. But, it’s only possible because of the thousands of hours spent researching, testing, retesting, failing, tuning, retrying, and launching. We send people to space because of the countless hours of preparation. Marriage requires the same dedication and preparation. We must be vigilant in our efforts to remain committed to the other. It doesn’t take as much preparation on the front end, but as soon as the marriage launches, it’s go time.
Ask anyone who has been married for longer than a year if being married is what they expected, and if they are being honest they will likely tell you “no, it’s not.” They will also tell you that it’s difficult.
So, why is marriage so difficult? For one, it’s a relationship between two totally different people, however similar their interests might be. You cannot get to know, and love, someone until you have been with them in their best and worst moments. Likely the worst of times will happen in a fight or disagreement, and you’ll want to blame your spouse as the cause of the worst of times. And get this: You’ll be right. Every person must contend with their failure to love.
You’ll be right to blame them because they are at fault. The ironic thing is that they’re thinking the same about you. I once saw a church marquee that said “Don’t criticize your spouse, look who they married.” It’s funny in the sense that every single person in a marriage has a reason to to be upset with their spouse. Our call in marriage isn’t to be happy all the time, rather it’s to be committed to love.
Preparing for marriage isn’t just about talking through all the main issues in your lives, or about hitting the most common areas of conflict for couples. Preparing for marriage is about having a framework for how to deal with disasters, with pain, brokenness, and being hurt. You can talk about sex, money, in-laws, and personality styles all day long and still not get close to someone. Don’t hear me wrong, all of those topics are extremely important to relationships and it’s worth your while to engage on them. But it’s far more important in how you engage on them.
The issue of ‘How we be’ is more important than what we do. ‘How we be’ (forgive my improper grammar) speaks to the language of the heart, to the person. Much like the question God asks Adam in garden, “Adam, where are you?” It wasn’t a question of geography, rather it was a question of the heart. God was interested in Adam’s heart, in his being, not necessarily about what he did. It’s a great blueprint to challenge us as to how we engage with others, especially our spouse. So, ‘how we be’ in engaging on important issues with our spouse will help a couple to engage in the heart of the matter, no the subject of the matter.
Much like launching a rocket into space, marriage needs planning, preparation, and action. It takes a lot of resources to create and sustain a healthy marriage. Invest into your marriage as you do your wedding. Plan dates, go see a counselor once a year for a regular checkup, be intentional about how you engage in conflict, and remind each other of your love and commitment. Many of these things are taken for granted because they come naturally during courtship and dating. There will be times that you’ll fail and you’ll be required to go back to the drawing board and try again. As is the case with life, Marriage isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey together.