Look out, friend. I have something to say about marriage.
Let me start with this...
That commitment, that steady-true vow I made to this man is always there. Kind of like an anchor that holds me fast in a wild sea of emotions and crazy life things.
It's love, yes. But only in the true, real sense of the word. Not the modern, conditional, warm-and-fuzzy feeling the world has made it out to be.
That's "like", not love. And let me be completely honest with you: I always love this man I'm doing life with, but I don't always like him and he doesn't always like me.
Like is unpredictable. It changes from day to day, sometimes even in an instant.
It's desperately dependent on the person it's directed at. When he does this, I feel loved. When he says this, it makes me happy.
When we say we love someone but all we really want is a void filled, disappointment will haunt us.
Why? Because no one is perfect.
No, not even that person you married.
When I finally saw the burden of expected perfection in my marriage, it all made sense.
This is why I think so many marriages, especially young ones, fail. We human beings put our blinders up and ignore all the red flags and imperfections until the excitement has worn off and real life starts banging at the door. Then those blinders sure come off, and they come off in the most painful way.
The reality is this: Not all promises can be kept. Not all expectations can be met. Foolish words will be said. Foolish things will be done. No marriage is exempt from this.
So, what is the remedy?
Some would say divorce. Obviously you married the wrong person, so just go find a better one and all will be well.
Some would say to tell your spouse to change. They're the one with all the problems anyway.
I would say this: Remember that vow you made? It wasn't, isn't, conditional. And remember that vow Christ made to you? That one isn't conditional either.
We are called to love like Christ. But friends, why do we not strive for that in our marriages first and foremost?
Yes, I'll admit, it's easier to love my friend Sally because she doesn't know how to push all my buttons or tend to do so on a regular basis.
But that's kind of the point I think.
Marriage isn't about getting what you want. It's not about another person making you happy for the rest of your life. It's not even about being with someone who you like all the time. It's about becoming more like Christ.
It's hard to love your spouse. And that's why it's so important.
Doing hard things stretches us and breaks us and grows us and strengthens us.
The pouring out of unconditional love and the laying down of yourself for an imperfect person? There is no greater thing. There is no higher calling.
THAT is true love.
And that is exactly what our perfect, holy God has done for us. Why should we not also make that our aim in every relationship, but especially in our marriages?
Friend, let's challenge ourselves together today.
Let's stop telling ourselves and others that our spouse needs the fixing and start asking God to reveal the logs in our own eyes.
Let's stop making mountains out of molehills and start dwelling and speaking on the strengths our spouse has.
Let's stop focusing on ourselves and our own happiness and start setting self aside to make room in our hearts for the joy of serving our spouse.
And let's stop liking only when our spouse is nice to us and start loving deeply and truly, no matter what.
Ready, set, GO.