before i got married, it was easy to believe marriage could be glamorous, sort of like how you think people can really look like the models on seventeen magazine cover. it seems attainable and possible. but real life marriage is so far from anything you see on tv or the movies. if you don't know this going in, don't go in. get counseling, and really ask yourself if you're ready to WORK. because yes, it is so incredibly worth it, and you need those unglamorous times. here's one about us recently.
we moved into our house this past weekend. that in itself is a lot of work. things are scattered everywhere. i found a box of dvd's in my sock drawer, and don't even go into the bedroom closet. yikes. that alone could be enough to cause a giant stressball in my life.
on top of this, we have been painting. and painting and painting. patching, painting, taping, painting, oh...and painting. we've been pulling some really late night-ers getting things ready. adding these things to any relationship brings...well, stress. tension. crankiness. selfishness. lots of selfishness. impatience. distance.
picture this if you will:
we are both working on a small guest bathroom downstairs. i am sitting in a chair that's inside the shower, covered in paint, watching him, who is standing in another chair, fight with the tape to get it to stick to the ceiling, battling our great friend humidity.
he shocks himself on the exposed light plate.
i spill a huge blob of paint on the laminate floor.
there are tears.
every little annoyance and frustration that you thought you had let go of, suddenly surfaces.
i realize how impatient i've been and that i haven't been seeking to understand his needs in this process. i am projecting and assuming rather than asking and helping. he has never painted before, after all, and he's depending on me to help him.
in his mind, he doesn't want to mess up a master-paint-plan i have cooked up inside my brain. all he wants is for me to be happy and to serve his wife, who he believes is working harder than he is. (she's not!)
undeserved forgiveness happens.
it's not perfect, but it's better.
we recognize our need for the Helper above the need for each other, and allow Him to draw us closer. we are reminded that we can love each other, help each other, confess and forgive each other because He has made a way for us to do this.
i got a text from him the next day that says, "i'm sorry things have been so crazy. help me to look like Christ in this."
ladies, that's better than any flowers or chocolate that you might see the husband on tv bring home. you know why? because it's life giving. it's full of hope and joy---you can not buy that, bottle it or fake it. of course now the pressure is on (in an 'i have a responsibility to obey the spirit' sort of way) to do what i am called to, but i am not alone. as we often say, 'the Helper helps.'
more times than not, crushed spirits and hurt feelings don't disappear the moment you repent. but the posture of our heart and attitude towards these things can change your perspective, give you understanding, and help you work through them. this kills the bitter root. the list of wrongs we create against another. we are both clumsy, but speaking truth and love to one another through this reminds us that our first need is for Christ in this relationship.
love is victorious.
i absolutley believe i have the coolest husband in the whole world. :) the work on the house we have been doing has created distance and space between us, just because of the lack of hours in the day, but despite that, he has worked hard to so beautifully pursue me through this. he calls and texts to check on me and how i'm doing, how my heart is doing and how we are doing. he rubs my feet and seeks to serve me any way that he can.
i can't sign off on this post without talking about community around this. about two months into our dating relationship, we realized we wanted to get married. we were blessed to have a couple (who are now our neighbors!!) pursue us for discipleship. i think it's something we would have waited until engagement for, but they helped us see the importance of submitting yourself to the authority of an older, wiser couple. this was a gift. i talk about my marriage with jana almost every day. i talk about my marriage in my discipleship group, and ask for prayer around it in our small group at church. i make it a point for this to be regular conversation. not in a gossipy way, but in a way that i'm held accountable for my actions and God is glorified through our relationship. it's not perfect, i'm not perfect, and once we all just realize that, it's easier to breathe deeply and get real.
we were not made to do this in isolation. talking through life with someone on a regular basis will do you a world of good!
when people come to me for biblical counseling/discipleship/question asking, i always point them to the Word, or to an older (in most cases) female who has more experience. however, there are three books around this post i would recommend reading and processing through with someone:
1. "when sinners say i do," by dave harvey we used this for our premarital discipleship and it's great! it's a little cheesy, but has some real nuggets. i learned about forbearance and grace. lots of grace. i learned so much about Jesus in the area of grace too which helped me understand and emulate better.
2. "note to self," by joe thorn it's about preaching the gospel to...wait for it....yourself. we have to be able to articulate this to ourselves and understand how it speaks to situations we encounter. in matthew, the word says, "out of the overflow of your heart, the mouth speaks." fill your heart with gospel. it will come flowing out like a glorious waterfall. or like the fire of ten thousand suns! (see? the bible is totally exciting.)
3. "the pursuit of holiness," by jerry bridges care about your spouse's happiness, but care more about his or her holiness. it will serve you both.
thanks for reading!