Imagine sitting down with your newly-engaged daughter and asking her these questions:
What do you think she would say?
She’d most likely gush that she wants a fabulous marriage. She wants a great relationship with her husband.
You lean in. What does the word “great” mean to her?
She looks you in the eye and smiles. “I just want to be loved.”
That’s the story of all of us, isn’t it? We go down the aisle with this one thought, “Now I am going to be loved.”
And then you wake up and smell the coffee, as they say. Your Prince Charming turns out to be human. He says and does things that are less than perfect.
Irritations and squabbles come up.
You both approach LIFE differently and even though that sounds intriguing, it’s actually kind of annoying.
What’s a girl to do?
I think every new bride has been in this situation. Nothing really prepares us for the reality of married life, you know?
How I prepared for married life: Harlequins. For years. And with all of that knowledge of how “real relationships” work, I thought my marriage would be pretty amazing. All of the time.
When the difficulties came, I felt incredibly alone.
I didn’t know how to speak to my husband, Russ, about Issues that Mattered. I knew everyone else was doing everything right and we were on the struggle bus.
So that’s why I was surprised (and refreshed) to read this:
“Marriage is fabulously hard.
“Everybody who has been married knows this. Though years into marriage it still catches us off guard, all of us. And newly married couples, when they discover how hard it is, they seem genuinely surprised. Shocked, and disheartened, by the fact. Are we doing something wrong? Did I marry the wrong person?....We fear we have made a colossal mistake, caught the wrong bus, missed our flight. And so the hardness also comes as something of an embarrassment.
“Maybe it’s just us.
“Nope. This is everyone. We might as well come out and say it.
“The sooner we get the shame and confusion off our back, the sooner we will find our way through. Of course marriage is hard. For heavens’ sake, bring together a man and a woman, - two creatures who think, act and feel so differently you would they they’d come from separate solar systems - and ask them to get along for the rest of their lives under the same roof. That is like taking Cinderella and Huck Finn, tossing them in a submarine, and closing the hatch. What did you think would happen?”
Don’t you love that? That’s from John and Staci Eldredge in their book, “Love and War.” They also point out that each person has fears, wounds, self-centeredness, self-doubt and a commitment to self-protection. “Good Lord. Anyone looking for undeniable proof in the existence of God need look no further - the fact that any marriage makes it is a miracle of the first order.”
So there is that. Because of our humanity and our differences, marriage is hard.
Yet we WANT the fairy tale ending.
We (without any extra input from romance books, movies or Luke Bryan) desire fantastic, intimate, eternal happiness.
Why do we want that?
Well, think about it; your soul was created FOR ETERNITY by a God who is NEVER ENDING LOVE.
That’s why your heart has an infinite capacity for love and joy and happiness. That’s who you are.
YOU WERE MADE FOR THE INFINITE BY THE INFINITE.
The problems start when we think our spouse can or should fill that need in us. (And that’s how marriage/romance is always portrayed. “He completes me.”)
It cannot be done. It just can’t.
You will never be enough for your spouse. Most importantly: you were never meant to be.
I wish I had known that early on in my own marriage! For too many years, I kept turning to Russ to fill me. I wanted him to come home from work and simply relieve me of the stress of having small children and tedious tasks all day as a stay at home mama. I wanted him to see my need and just step in and give me what I was in desperate need of.
He wanted to come home to a lovely wife who felt blessed to be able to stay home. He wanted supper and calm. He desired good conversation and good lovin’.
During a retreat, we both came to the conclusion that we were empty buckets, wanting the other to fill us.
There was this other little issue. As we peered closer, our buckets had holes in them.
So even when one of us “filled” the other, the water would leak out and we’d be left standing there in the same place, with an empty bucket.
No amount of conversation, no amount of physical love making, no amount of giving was ever enough. It never filled us for longer than that moment. We always kept wanting MORE from the other.
It has taken 32 years of marriage and we are just now beginning to understand the truth. We had to go to Our Father and turn over our buckets.
Only God can heal us of our broken, selfish ways. And once that healing starts taking place, only He can fill us like we need, desire and ache to be filled.
Don’t you love that? I sort of feel like doing some flips on my trampoline. If I was athletic. Or younger. Or without a I’ve-been-pregnant-a-gazillion-times bladder control issue.
The reality - I just sighed a big sigh of relief. Whewee! I wasn’t meant to be Russell’s savior! Yeah!
And he wasn’t made to be mine.
The cool part: as Russ and I have opened up to a real RELATIONSHIP with God the Father individually, it has changed how we interact with each other. We are simply kinder with each other. Naturally. Or perhaps, divinely.
It’s easy to speak with respect to my man, not because of what he does, but because of who he is and WHOSE he is.
The kindest thing YOU can do for your spouse: fall in love with the One that Created You.
Why is falling in love with God the kindest thing you can do for your spouse?
When you feel loved and accepted and significant, you don’t have to posture yourself. You don't have to control. You don’t have to strive. You can rest in that eternal love. There is something gloriously breathtaking to be around someone that KNOWS they are loved.
When TWO people live there, it is heaven on earth.
If your spouse is not there quite yet, that’s okay. Just bring Jesus to him or her in how you speak, act and love.
If falling in love with God is the kindest thing you can do for your spouse, then what about your own children? One day they will be like the soon-to-be bride (or groom) that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, ready to walk down the aisle. They will have stars in their eyes.
The kindest thing you can do for your child is to teach them about their identity in Christ then help them develop a relationship with Jesus. Their future spouse will thank you.
Read "The Best Thing You can Give Your Child." Found in our free resource library.
I also wrote about my own conversion story in “Your Identity in Christ.” Again, found in our (new!) free resource library.
The library is password protected because I don’t want anyone and everyone walking into this space. It’s for you and others like you, that want to go a little deeper.
Access those additional resources here: The Parenting Dare’s Resource Library.
If you already have the password, enter it here.