Do you ever think back on your wedding vows? Every wedding has some sort of semblance to vows or promises whether you are a Believer or not. Did you ever think on that day as you faced the person you love and professed your love, faithfulness and til-death-do-you-part's that you might need to revisit your vows and perhaps repeatedly remind yourself that 1.) you love this person 2.)you made a VOW and A PROMISE to "love and cherish" them through the better AND worse, the richer AND poorer through sickness AND health? What does that mean on your wedding day compared to 5, 10 or 15+ years later? As you stand in white on your "happiest" day (with your make up and hair done, your push up bra, spanks, control top pantyhose or what have you) the worst is barely imaginable. You feel indestructible as a couple. That your love and commitment can conquer any mountain or obstacle. That, as you look into the eyes of your beloved, feeling anything less than love, passion and admiration is unimaginable. But the reality is that every couple has and will experience some disillusionment in marriage, some disappointment in their spouse or with how it all turned out. You'll look at your life occasionally or often and think, "this is not what I imagined for myself" or "how did we get here?"
I write these things with a heart of gratitude. First, for a God that gives me grace for my sin. Second, with a heart of thankfulness for a husband who loves me with all my imperfections, eccentricities and emotional rantings. And third, with a spirit of reflectiveness for the words of wisdom and encouragement shared by my dear friends who have been there and are, in some cases, still trying to work out the vows and promises made with the day to day trials of two sinful beings attempting to live in unison. It's not easy, is it? It's work. Like anything good is work. Making a patchwork quilt is work and requires hours and hours of tedious and meticulous measuring, cutting, recutting, sewing and maybe sometimes you have to rip all the patches apart and start fresh because your whole pattern was off kilter from the beginning. And when your life's patches are spread out and unassembled it feels messy and chaotic and it's hard to see the goal and imagine it's reachable, but when those patches are put together again and done with love and care..they beauty of it all is special, unique and breathtaking. Some couples may claim that they never fight or that their marriage was "easy". Maybe that's true, but it is certainly not true of the majority. You've got to deal with your own expectations, your spouse's expectations and then the realness of who you are and what you each can give. I read in an article by Focus on the Family, "..we can appreciate what God designed marriage to provide: partnership, spiritual intimacy and the ability to pursue God — together." (see link)
So, where does that leave us. Living the life given, not the life you think you should have had. Loving the person you married because you promised to and they promised to love you back. Accepting the things about them and yourself that cannot be changed and cherishing the things that they are. Striving to be the spouse that God would have you be and loving in a way that brings out the best in the other...not antagonizing and bringing out the worst in each other which is far easier to do. Just as with every up, there is a down and dark there is a light...with the "worse", there can be better. Pray through the worse and give thanks for the better. Love through the worse and celebrate the better.
"If you've been married long enough, and if life has been hard enough, if you're very honest, you've had tiny nearly invisible moments when you look over at that person, watching TV or getting a glass of water and you think, Who is this person? How did we get here?
You never feel this on your wedding day. You can't even imagine it on your wedding day. But life invades, and brokenness and immaturity and sin invade and all of a sudden, there you are, and you start to believe that you might not ever be able to get back to where you were, all shiny and perfect and bursting with love, on your wedding day.
...The Best gifts we can give each other this year are apologies and acceptance, gifts we should have been giving one another all along, but forgot for a season, in the midst of hurt feelings and tangled conversations. So here we are: saying we're sorry, letting go, accepting, listening closely for the first time in a long time."
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist (excerpt from the chapter titled "Steak Frites")
"The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but you still have to mow it."