Yesterday Joel and I celebrated 11 years of marriage. Really, it feels like a pretty big accomplishment now days. Every year of marriage is a reason to celebrate! This past year I have realized a lot about marriage.
There seems to be some sort of fairy tale perception of marriage. Some how we have these expectations to live up to and you must be happy all of the time. Your marriage must look like a story book picture of perfection and if by some off chance you slip up and let someone know that your marriage isn’t perfect, then you feel like you are going to be deemed a failure immediately.
I have seen and heard women over the years say things like “I can’t let anyone know my short comings or failures in my marriage because we know others look up to us” I started seeing a problem. We were setting a standard by hiding our problems. A standard that NO ONE can live up to. I realized that marriage was now made to be some unobtainable fairytale that was destined to fail with the expectations that are being placed on it. No wonder relationships are failing! You have all of these couples out there striving to be perfect and pretending to be too, because they are too scared to admit that it isn’t
I started trying to seek the help of other married folks a long time ago. People who had been married for a long time and who I knew had good advice. In asking over the years, you know what I found out? Marriage is hard. I always thought there would be some sort of magic number and that after that marriage got easy! I was even told that if you could make it to year 7, you could make it. I remember really thinking that if we could get to 7 we were golden! But guess what? Years 7-11 haven’t been easy either!
Marriage takes work. Continuous work. It takes commitment to stick it out and work out every problem that comes up. The hard truth is the problems in my marriage that I feel like should be resolved already, are just a result of two sinners being married and living in the same house. Obviously we want to work on our problems and not excuse them, but what I don’t hear anyone saying is “it is perfectly normally to have problems”.
I want to squash the lie that a good marriage means a marriage without problems. It is just not true. A good marriage communicates and works through problems when they come up. They find a way to navigate through their issues. They don’t give up on each other, they don’t point fingers and blame. A good marriage doesn’t hold a grudge. A good marriage chooses to see the good in their spouse and love them right where they are. To support them and commit to growing along side of them. A good marriage knows and understand that neither person is perfect and both individuals have strengths and weaknesses. It puts pride aside and lifts the other person up. It looks to biblical principals, leans on God, and puts their trust in Him. A good marriage just simply chooses to never give up.
So today, freshly entering my 12th year of marriage, I can say that my marriage isn’t perfect at all but it is good. It is good because we continue to choose to work on it. We keep evaluating ourselves and our actions, learning from our mistakes, and always forgiving one another when we make mistakes (because we do!) We are commited to making our marriage better, not perfect. We decided we will not give up on each other or our marriage, no matter how hard things get.
If you are reading this and feel like you are alone and maybe your marriage is the only one that has hard times, please let me encourage you that you are not alone! Please don’t give up! Know that it is hard work, but it is worth it when you put the work in and start seeing the fruit! Trust God, lean on Him, and find another couple you can trust and count on to give sound advice. On the other hand, if you are couple who doesn’t like to share your trials, can I encourage you to pray about opportunities to be honest with others, so that your experiences can encourage other couples to not throw in the towel when it gets difficult? To share with them that there are difficulties but they can get through them.