An Appropriate Repost
After a few recent conversations, there is no doubt that this marriage study wasn’t an accident. And very much needed right now. These conversations have brought up my own need to check-in with Jon and the state of our marriage. I never want to be blinded to the weak areas in our union, nor take it for granted. And it brought to mind this post that I wrote almost three years ago. It seems an appropriate time to post it again…
I Never Said It was Easy – October 22, 2008
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.