James, my husband, and I became friends while on our way to prison. Yep, I said prison! Not many people can say they met their spouse in such a way. Before you jump to conclusions, let me explain. We were sitting across from each other in the back of a bus that was hauling us, along with approximately 30 other college-age students from our church, to a maximum security prison. He was the drummer in our young adults’ worship band that would be performing, and I was on the drama team that would be acting out skits to minister to the prisoners. A very unlikely match, I know. One and a half years later, our friendship went from the prison doors to the church doors in holy matrimony.
I had always heard the first year of marriage was supposed to be the most difficult. The blending of two lives during that tender year was not easy, I was told; but being naive and in love, those words went in one ear and out the other. When our first year of marriage was rounding up, I thought back on how easy “the most difficult year” was for us—not anything like I was told. We enjoyed being together every second we could and conflicts were nowhere to be found. The first year, a difficult one? I couldn’t make out what others were talking about. I guess our love must be stronger than most couples in their first year, I began to think.
With our first successful year tucked under our belt, we were just as eager to take on our second year with the same love and zeal as our first.
CHANGE WILL COME
I’m not sure exactly when things began to change, but not long into our second year, our perfect marriage didn’t feel so perfect anymore. Valentine’s Day was supposed to be the day we celebrated our love for each other. The fact that my dear husband forgot about such a special day didn’t sit well with me at all. After confronting him, he sprinted to our local grocery store, and with all the thoughtfulness he could possibly muster in such a short amount of time, he brought back a tiny stuffed toy and a box of cheap chocolates—not exactly what I had in mind for a romantic evening together. Then there was the time James came home after a long day at work to find our house in total chaos with my three nieces running around like monkeys. I personally didn’t see the problem; I enjoyed the noise and excitement, but by the look on his face I could see he disagreed. These weren’t the only incidents that pushed our buttons. What were once small annoyances seemed to grow into big ones. Things had definitely changed. No one ever warned me about the second year of marriage, I pouted.
STAYING FAITHFUL TO YOUR COMMITMENT
Despite our share of fights, frustrations and those, yes I’m going to say it, “What was I thinking when I married this person?” occasions, we have celebrated six and a half challenging and yet still happy years of marriage together. During those moments when we let each other down or didn’t meet one another’s expectations, what we have learned is the importance behind the commitment we vowed to each other on our wedding day— despite how we “feel” at the moment.
Now a day it seems marriage has lost its sacredness. Sadly, it’s not always guarded as precious to those that find it.
When I think back to the six weeks of pre-marital counseling we took with our pastor, I really cannot think back to one specific lesson that encouraged us to get through the tough times we have faced. I heard a little about finances, a bit more about sex and a whole lot about future goals. The not-so-pleasant areas of marriage were never touched upon, and obviously any advice on getting through them was nowhere to be found.
In our society, we have unfortunately come to believe that when we are upset, disappointed, or let down by our partner, it’s time to call it quits. Momentary unhappiness has become grounds for divorce for many couples. Working through conflicts isn’t worth it anymore, so finding “their own happiness” apart from their spouse then becomes the focus. Our marriage vows, which are meant to be an unconditional “promise, oath, declaration” to both our spouse and God, become pearls cast before swine.
No one said marriage would be easy. In fact, marriage is pretty hard at times. It’s during the difficult times that we have a decision to make. Will we grow apart? Or will we grow closer to each other? We are told that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NKJV). Love for our spouse should be enduring. Our actions, during the hard times, are a reflection of the depths of our love for our spouse as well as our commitment to God’s Word. Our goal, as a couple, should be to get through all the difficulties we face—no matter the cost!
Marriage has been twisted, complicated, and devalued through the ages. In the face of a generation that fails to recognize God’s value on marriage, we can easily miss it ourselves. Marriage was orchestrated—by our Creator—long ago to be a beautiful, lifelong commitment between a man and a woman for the purpose of companionship as well as a means for sexual expression.
The purpose of marriage is not for the other person to make you feel “wonderful” at all times, yet more importantly, it’s about giving respect, love, and commitment to the one we chose to spend all the days of our life with.