"I never said it was easy."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 18 Comments A+ a-

As the idea tumbled around and around in my head, I felt myself getting almost giddy at the prospect of a date with Jon. No kids… no kid meals… no pleading with Hudson to sit still or not throw food… no cajoling Devyn to eat more bites… no puzzled looks from Jon as he tries to decipher what I’m saying over the din of two kids. In other words, complete bliss.

I pampered myself for this date, much like I did when we were in a dating relationship. I shaved my legs, got out the best-smelling lotions, I took an unusually long time with my hair and make-up, and tried on several different outfits. It felt good to take that time to get pampered, knowing that Jon would not only notice, but would appreciate the effort.

Eleven years we’ve been together; eleven years ago today was the first day we started this relationship. I’m in awe of how far we’ve come, the memories we’ve shared, and the fact that for the most part we actually still like each other. Oh, we have our moments, our family and friends can attest to that. But at the end of the day, he’s my best friend, the one that I think to call first with good or bad news, and the one that I know will always have my back.

Marriage has been on my mind a lot this past week. Maybe it was our date-night; maybe it was the fact that we saw “Fireproof” after going out to dinner; maybe it was Courtney and Jeremy talking about their experience at Family Life’s marriage conference; maybe it’s the conversations Jon is having with friends… one is trying to decide if he’s ready to propose marriage and the other, a newlywed who had no idea that marriage was hard work. My husband’s response? “I said marriage was awesome, not easy.” Regardless, I feel led to write about this idea of marriage.

Do you remember your wedding day? Do you remember the months of preparation leading up to the wedding day? I do. Jon and I were engaged for 15 months, a l-o-n-g time frame that I would not encourage to anyone else, and so I was able to spend 15 months obsessing over every detail of that day. The dress, the flowers, the colors, the venues, the photographer, etc., it was so important to me to get that day right.

And then we were sent to the Family Life “Weekend to Remember” conference. For three days, we sat in seminars about marriage. During certain sessions of the conference, the engaged couples were taken out of the room and given frank talks about marriage. No words were minced, no hands were held, no warm, fuzzy feelings were given. They were brutal, or so it seemed to us at the time. In reality, the speakers were just being real. Marriage is hard work; if it were easy, then many of the couples at that conference would have no need to be there. It was obvious that many couples at the conference were close to the end of their marriage, feeling as though irreparable damage had been done. It was a wake-up call.

The last seven months of our engagement was spent in pre-marital counseling… TONS of pre-marital counseling. We did an eight-week course through our church and we met on separate occasions with Jon’s cousin and his wife, then my aunt and uncle. Both men married us on the day of our wedding and wanted to be sure that we knew what we were getting ourselves into. While we still had (have) our moments, we were given so many tools to start our marriage and I shudder to think what would have happened without them.

I wonder about our society today; a society that believes in tit for tat, a society that believes in putting yourself and your needs above everyone else. And then that same society wonders why the divorce rate is climbing steadily. There are days when my needs aren’t being met, just as there are days when I’m not meeting Jon’s needs. And trust me when I say this, when our needs aren’t being met, those are the days that can, and often do, lead to some really bad fights.

However, there are two things that keep Jon and I moving forward, instead of apart. One, we went into this marriage knowing and agreeing that divorce was not an option. Let me repeat that, IT IS NOT AN OPTION. No matter how bad the fight, no matter how hurt the feelings, we have two choices. We can either seek forgiveness or to forgive, or we can live in a silent, hurt world that only we’d created. Two, we’re constantly reminding ourselves that this marriage is not about ourselves. If I’m having a particularly bad day, I often have to ask myself when was the last time that I put Jon’s needs above my own. Sadly, the answer often makes me hang my head in shame.

Jon and I don’t have the perfect marriage, my parents haven’t done it perfectly, and surprisingly, neither have my pastor and his wife. I’m finding that marriage is a constant work-in-progress; I doubt I’ll ever have it completely figured out. However, I do know this. My marriage is the most important relationship in my life; Jon is one of my greatest blessings. He is my best friend, the father of my children, and the man that I’ve chosen to spend my life with. Yet, so often, he is the one that I take for granted the most. It’s so easy to assume that he’ll always be there, that he is infallible, no matter how I treat him.

These spouses of ours were once heroes in our eyes; there was once a time when just the sound of their voice or glimpse of their smile is all we needed to get through a rough day. What happened to that? What happened to our promise to “have and to hold, to cherish in good times and in bad times”? What would it do to their spirit, to their person, if we reverted back to the days of dating and put their needs above our own? So often we forget to treat them as we’d like to be treated. I’m more than willing to continue on the plan that God designed for marriage; which means putting in long hours and hard work to ensure that our marriage is as fulfilling and meaningful as God intended the marriage relationship to be.

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

18 comments

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Courtney
AUTHOR
10:53 AM delete

Beautiful post Jenn, you sound just like the speaker at the conference but more poetic. =)

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Robin
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11:09 AM delete

I love following your blog but I have never left a comment before. But reading this post I just have to leave an "Amen"! Your post was beautiful and so truthful.

My husband and I have been married for 12 years and it is only by God's grace that we are so in love today! God has brought us through things that by the world's wisdom should have ended our marriage but we are seeing His blessings come out of our obedience in following Him(it just took us awhile)!

Robin

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Julie
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12:03 PM delete

LOVED this post! =) So true and something that needs to be said more often. Marriage is not always fun but it should be forever.
Thanks!

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Sarah
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12:39 PM delete

As always Jenn, I love your thinking posts! God is so good isn't He! What would we do without Him, truly!? I have always found that the key to selflessness in my marriage is making sure I'm going to the Lord to meet my needs, filling my tank at HIS station. This way, if He chooses to meet my needs through Travis, wonderful, but regardless, He never lets me down and this frees me to love Travis the way I should, putting his needs first. The way I'm acting in my marriage is a good measure of my walk most of the time. Can't wait for a coffee date, when were we talking about doing it again? Let's email about it.
Love, Sarah

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12:47 PM delete

Hear, hear Sarah! I wanted to touch on that subject too, going to God to meet our needs, instead of our spouse. There's so much truth, the only truth, in your comment. But I think that's a whole other post for another day. =)

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Jenn
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3:18 PM delete

Great post Jenn.

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Aspiemom
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4:24 PM delete

I really enjoyed this post, Jenn. My husband and I have been married for 21 years and it's easy to "lose the spark". Divorce is not an option for us, either. Thanks for the reminder to keep working on my relationship with my husband!

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4:32 PM delete

How odd it is that I am reading The Power of a Praying Wife right now.... you do that a lot!

Beautiful words! Thank you for sharing!

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Paula
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9:15 PM delete

You are so right. Marriage is work. I think some people forget why they fell in love. You know kids happen, life happens, things just happen. But it is so important to nurture the marriage. Doesn't it make everything else run smoothly!?!?!

Thank you for sharing your heart.

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3:24 PM delete

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AndiMae
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7:51 PM delete

I love this post, Jenn! Erik and I have been married for almost 8.5 years, but have been together for nearly 11.5, so I can definitely relate to the things you shared. Thanks for the encouragement to put Erik first- sometimes it is so hard to remember at the end of the day when I am worn out from the kids and being a mama, that my relationship with him is even a bigger priority than taking care of the kids. Hope you are having a happy weekend!

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Anne
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8:25 PM delete

I just found your blog and I love this post. My husband and I have been married almost 10 years. We have been to A Weekend to Remember conference twice. It was a great weekend both times.

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3:57 PM delete

I really enjoyed this post! I have been thinking a lot about this the past couple of months, and was convicted to be me devoted to praying and looking for ways to be an encouragement to my husband. It has been such an amazing process. He has taught me alot.

God is good!

Thanks for sharing your heart!

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Lange Mom :o)
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6:56 PM delete

touche'
I am speechless................
I am humbled.......
Auntie Bernie~
"Divorce" should NEVER be an option! Never!

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Stacey
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7:42 AM delete

wow. this was incredible. and oh so timely.

pray for us. we need to see fireproof and do the booklet thing as well. our marriage has been under attack for weeks now.

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Christine
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10:54 AM delete

Amen! We've done the Weekend to Remember twice and it changed our view of marriage. I would recommend it for every couple. We just saw Fireproof too, and it was awesome. Happy Anniversary!

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1:40 PM delete

My husband and I just celebrated 25years in April and renewed our vows and went on our first honeymoon! The two previous years we attended the Weekend to Remember. The first year we needed it so badly because we had just drifted so far apart because of all the busyness we were involved in with four kids of all ages! I loved your post!

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Marianne
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7:42 PM delete

Even though this is years old...Jenn, I needed to read this tonight more than ANYTHING. Thank you my friend. For being willing to share so much of you, your life, the good and the BAD, and the hope of better days after putting in the hard work. One of these times you need to invite us to go to one of those Marriage conferences you know- I think we'd like to go:) Thanks my friend:)

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