When a man loves a woman, he asks her for her hand in marriage and then (pending her approval) they spend the rest of their lives in Christian fidelity, each and every day loving each other more and more until they finally die happily in each other’s warm embrace some 50 years down the line. Right? Sorta…
Think about it: What does this really entail? This means a lot more than you just living life in this really committed relationship. It means that even on your worst day, when your boss yells at you all day long and it’s raining outside, your car breaks down, your computer crashes when you’re almost done with that report and for some reason you forgot to hit CTRL+S for the past hour, you still have to be nice to that person. Yeah. As much as you may want to, you can’t just go home and sit on your bed and cry or lie down on your couch and watch TV and veg out.
You’re committing to “love” that person through thick and thin. Not that you must lie about your frustration or even legitimate depression or anger, but you cannot simply look within or give up when those days take place, because you are not your own any longer. Everything you do, say, sometimes even things you think affect your spouse. Seriously. Ever gone through an entire day when you were super pissed at the world and even though you were very nice and polite and did everything right, those close to you still knew something was wrong, that you were not your normal self? Now apply that to a person who eats, sleeps, laughs, cries, and lives with you every single day. How you think and feel can’t not affect thing in a profound way.
As a good friend of mine said to me recently, “When you get married your spouse has a claim on you like no one else ever can.” A claim on me. Who else has a “claim” on me? Parents, partly have one. I mean, they raised me and had to pay for my food and clothes and all, but the older I get, the less that claim becomes (naturally). Brothers and sisters? Maybe, but depending on the family, that claim may not even exist at all.
But this “claim” is something voluntarily taken up by the other person. It is a claiming of one’s entire self, one’s actions and one’s future, “for as long as you both shall live.” It is a unifying agreement that (to me) tells the world that no matter what we come across, no matter what crazy twists and turns our lives take, we’re doing this whole life thing together, forever.
You guys, what am I doing?
Sometimes it boggles my mind as to how anyone would condone this type of behavior. “What’s that, Ben? You’re planning on loving this girl in sickness and in health, even if she loses her job and she has a mid-life crisis and won’t stop talking about how horrible her life is and constantly berates you for being overweight and won’t stop talking about her high school boyfriend and how he was way better looking that you and keeps bringing up the fact that you don’t get paid enough to support the lifestyle she had wanted to grow accustomed to and the babies you put in her belly have made her lose the young hotness she once had and she stops talking to you and meets a cute guy online who she flirts with at night after you go to bed and then she starts going to tanning salons every other day and turns a bright sheen of orange and hits up the local clubs with her girlfriends and stops talking to the kids unless it’s to yell at them about their dirty rooms and she stops loving you only a few years in but won’t leave you because of the tax breaks…? You really think you could stay in a relationship with another human being, no matter what she decides to do with her life—whether you’re a part of those choices or not?
First of all, I would say you have a very dramatic imagination. Secondly, I would hope and pray that if anything remotely were to happen like any of those stated above situations, we could work through them through prayer, supplication, counseling and seeking out guidance and wisdom from those much wiser than us. (It helps knowing that we’re in the same boat on this one too, and we’re a team.)
And thirdly, YES. That’s exactly what I’m signing up for, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To have someone there for you when you’re having a hard day, someone to lean on when you’re not your strongest and someone to lift you up when you’re feeling low, is truly a dream come true. While it won’t be as easy as I probably think it will be at times, I know doing life together with someone else who is as dedicated as I am to the marriage will only strengthen us and better us each day.
Whether one person gives up on the marriage overall, or one day at a time is not a question. There will be days when each person involved fails to keep up their commitment to bring the best of ourselves for the other person. However, what is not debatable is the fact that each of us will continue to try to bring the best of ourselves for the other person. It’s also pretty evident, the more I get to know myself, that the best of myself is pretty bad. Honestly, I’m a nice guy (or whatever), but my best is nothing compared to what I can be with Jesus helping me out. So even on days when we are bringing out best of ourselves to each other (whatever that even means), we’re also committing to putting faith in the Lord to fill those gaps with his wisdom and guidance. I firmly believe that it is only through His infinite knowledge, wisdom and love that we can make this marriage thing work, because if it were just me in this thing called life, I wouldn’t have even made it this far, that’s for sure.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” And I have no problem with applying this idea to a solid marriage. While certainly there will be days when one person will falter, the other person will often be there to lift them back up. And on days when we’re both faltering, it is our duty to look to God for compassion and guidance to help us through those tough days, weeks, and even months.
Marriage is not supposed to be easy. In fact, it’s a well known fact that it’ll suck at times. Life is not a movie…at least, it’s not a romantic comedy. To put it put it as plainly as possible (to me) marriage is simply: doing life together with someone else. While it’s a simple statement, no one would think it’s that simple in practice. There will be plenty of days in which there is no right side of the bed to even get up on, and we just need power through to make things last. But that’s life, some days. I don’t believe as human beings it’s our responsibility to smile 24/7 and pretend things are going just fine. I do believe however, that it’s our responsibility to be intentional, honest and genuinely loving 24/7, whether toward your boss, your mother-in-law, a homeless man, or your spouse.
The love and relationship between spouses is but a weak metaphor for the perfect love Christ has for his people, but I believe it is the closest we can get to really experiencing God’s love in a tangible way here on earth. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
I’m not married right now, but I’m planning on having the most kickass marriage possible. I’m not in this alone either, and I think that’s one of the most important aspects for me to remember. Not only will I have an amazing woman who will support me every single day, but we both also have some amazing people around us who will constantly be supporting us on a daily basis as well, through sickness and in health.
So when it comes to my choice of people I’d want to put up with, and have put up with me the rest of my life; to have someone who I can do life together with and seek the Truth above all things with, I couldn’t have possibly have been blessed with a more wonderful, caring, insightful, compassionate, loving, intelligent, hilarious, wise, beautiful, woman after God’s own heart than Miss Hannah Jane Reed.
Till Death Do Us Part.