Musings: A Little Bit of Marriage
On the issue of submitting, I must say that it has been a life long lesson. I was raised by a man with a house that never had a female/mother figure as a staple in our home. Though I have a great relationship with my mother and love her dearly I cannot say that I have been taught by any one woman, how to be married. And by that I mean, what in the world am I supposed to do when he's hitting my verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry last nerve and vice versa for him.
I watched a show the other day where the guest was recanting her issues with bulimia and a small list of other periphery failures that come with such a thing. My writing today is not about addictions or body dysmorphia or self esteem - though I could speak on these sorts for days and days to come. The thing that I want to share about this guest speaker is what she mentioned about maturity that stunned me. I am sure many of you may not find this stunning at all. A thought that has sifted through your mind many times only to escape before you can catch it. She said, and this is non-verbatim - that she had reached the ripe old age of (let's say) 23 and finally as she unpacked the baggage of her life she saw that she had never really had a chance to be her age at any given point in time. She was from a home of divorce, and she found herself at 8 or 9 (for me it was 5) being her mother's emotional outlet and trying to understand her father - a man she resented but could not stop loving even if she tried her hardest not to.
I cried for her, and for myself (give or take a few details) because I was/am that girl and it has transcended every aspect of my life. Marriage being the biggest. Who knew that divorce really does play a huge role in how our marriages can turn out? (I know, duh. But let me explain) As a kid of divorce you grow up not wanting that burden to follow you but carrying it anyways as it is one of the things that makes you more mature, more insightful and more aware of how grown-ups really think and how the world works. You go through and see things that other kids from two parent families just don't experience. Many of us have laughed it off in school, we poke fun at it all in an effort to prove that we are not broken nor are we any different because we come from a home where one or both parents are missing (physically, emotionally or spiritually). But we are.
Divorced kids are usually at one end of the spectrum. They either long for marriage and family in order to recreate what they didn't have or they go as far away as possible from the idea of attaching themselves to a man or a woman forEVER. Usually we tend to drift between the two based on who's done what to us that day and how we're feeling. But my post is not about kids of divorcees either, it's more about marriage in general and how it's really hard to gauge what it's supposed to be like.
A and I (and as usual I share these vulnerable parts of my life not to be vindicated for them but so that I can hear from others and you also, can see how a normal girl is learning to grow through this life - so be nice.) anyways... A and I recently went through some of the roughest tides of our relationship. I got married at 21 without the big wedding that I had dreamed of all my life, pregnant and with a lot of pressure from different people. I know, he felt the same. We also walked into our second miscarriage 10 days after we said "I do," So the only consolation we had as a couple was that we were madly in love with each other and that we would do anything for one another. But that was it. And if you've been married for any length of time, you know that that quickly fades. There was no prepping and priming for a big day or for the rest of our lives together. We just kind of jumped right into it.
So, throughout our marriage we have mourned, we have been confused and we have been unclear as to what in the hell we're supposed to do for one another. But you know, that God grants wisdom at any age and he gives us grace to learn from our mistakes. And so through this very rough time these last few weeks, I don't want the people that send me messages about how "cute" or "perfect" or "dreamy" our relationship looks on social media to paint a one sided idea of marriage. If you believe that it is true that the most beautiful pieces of art display ying-yang characteristics where pain and joy reside and beauty and ugliness convene, then you must see the same thing for marriage.
So here's a gentle reminder to the marrieds out there or to those looking forward to it (because it is honestly the best thing I've ever done). We go through rough patches too. We have moments where we lose sight of each other or can't seem to agree on anything and seasons that are just plain hard for no reason and for every reason one can think of. "But those moments–when our hearts are broken and we have thousands of words left unspoken–are the very moments that we need to lean into our spouse the most. This world tells us that love is a feeling that can come and go. If this is true, then love will fail us every time. And it will never be enough to hold a marriage together. But this is NOT at all how God defines love. The Bible tells us that true love is unconditional. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. It protects us. It heals us. True love never fails us!"
I read that little excerpt today from my devotional and thought about how a lot of us tend to misunderstand the point of marriage. Marriage is not a prize at the end of singledom. It is a gift, much like a child, that must be fed, renewed and protected. And as we give ourselves to each other in love and generosity and patience and gentleness. As we forgive each other of the little things and the not so little things. As we teach other our love language - how we respond, what we respond to and what we'd like to see more of. And as we protect our space and home with thoughts that lift one another up and bless one another, and finally as we see our spouses without the shortcomings of our parents or their parents or even past relationships and instead we see them each day as whole and capable individuals who can love us the way we yearn to be loved through the power and the spirit of Christ...we, individually become better not only for each other or for our children but for the world. We become a pair that can accomplish more together and multiply the little that we've been given to churn out more than we can imagine. We become less selfish and more selfless for others - with our time and with our hearts. We fall into a natural rhythm where our souls understand one another - so much so that love becomes a state of being as opposed to a condiment that sits atop a shelf until it is needed to spice up a husband that has gone bland or sweeten a wife that has become sour.
But we can't be that glorious if we do not focus on one another, through the lens of God. And we cannot emanate love and be successful in all that we do as a couple if we cannot FOCUS on each other and each other alone (leave everyone's thoughts and ideas and opinions and advice at the table and focus on God's plans, thoughts, ideas and opinions instead for you two) and work really hard (because like every one and their momma says, marriage is HAAAAARRRRD) through these first few and very fragile years to create a strong foundation. So that when the wind blows (and it will) we, as one, can forever stand firm.
So wherever you've come from, and whatever you're going through now - have faith that it can be worked on, that your marriage can feel new and vibrant and happy again. That regardless of what has happened, or who you are there is a beautification process that is occurring and if you will just be a little bit more patient and a little bit more submissive to love, true true love, then you will see at first a small blinking light almost like a firefly and as you walk across the tunnel suddenly it consumes you this love that is so bright and that can cancel out all darkness and pain. That is the kind of marriage God wants for us.