Someone interviewed young children about falling in love and getting married. “God has it all planned who you’re going to marry. You just get to find out who you’re stuck with,” a little girl responded. I guess she’d never heard any of the “soul-mate” gibberish that’s out there. She was closer to the truth than most of us like to admit.
I fell in love forty years ago or so. It may have been his light gray eyes or maybe his excellent facial bone structure. (In my teenage maturity, I was mightily concerned about bone structure, which I figured was an indication of how well a man would age.) Whatever it was, one brief conversation with the guy was enough to keep my thoughts occupied with love and marriage fantasies for many months.
Six years later, I was married, but not to that man. This weekend, my husband and I will celebrate 35 years of wedded bungling and bliss. Beginning with incompatible personality types, we have made most of the common mistakes, committed plenty of the “don’ts” of marriage and seen our share of selfishness. And that’s just the stuff that came from inside ourselves.
On top of that, we’ve endured the external pressures of incompatibility of backgrounds, financial straits, job losses, failed businesses, illnesses, depression, the birth of a child with a disability (80% divorce rate) and the death of a child (80% divorce rate).
How are we still married? Time was, I would have answered that with a 5-step plan. Now, I’m more apt to say, “I really don’t know. It’s almost a miracle!” It surely has had nothing to do with being “soul-mates” (whatever that means) since feelings of intimate fellowship are about as lasting as a chocolate high.
What I do know is that when tough times have hit, commitment has been the glue that helped keep us together. What I mean by commitment is an underlying sense of the permanence of what we pledged on our wedding day. Monsieur explains it as an awareness that the covenant of marriage is an obligation to something bigger than either of us. Divorce has never been an option. We were stuck with each other. And being stuck, we knew the only way to find peace and harmony again was to try to work things out.
Married for the first time in her late 50’s, author and speaker Nancy DeMoss Wohlgemuth quickly began to recognize there is a malevolent spiritual power seeking to destroy marriage. Just seven weeks after her wedding, she “recognized the serpent’s subtle but nefarious influence” in her relationship with her husband. I recognized the same tendencies she describes in my own marriage :http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/serpents-seeds-and-a-savior?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedpress.me&utm_campaign=Feed:+dg-articles
I know Monsieur and I would both say the harmony has been worth every bit of self-sacrifice, enduring irritations and inconvenience, forgiving hurts and offenses. Decades of memories bind us together. Shared sorrows, passion, and private jokes tie us more tightly to one another every year. And let’s not forget accountability. Seven children, our extended families, church family and friends keep us responsible to uphold the vows we made to one another July 17, 1981. What a firm foundation it gives us that if we are tempted to chuck it all, others would send us back to each other.
Thirty-five years ago, I thought everybody who called themselves a Christian had that basic sense of marriage permanence. I learned they don’t. How sobering it was a few years ago, to hear the rest of the story of Mr. Gray-Eyes-and-Great-Cheekbones. With several children already, when his wife announced another pregnancy he was displeased. When the child was found to have Down syndrome, he left.
It’s said you can tell a lot about a society by its treatment of its weakest members. I’d say the same about a man.
How grateful I am that God does not always give us what we desire! In my case, it was because He had something much better in store for me.
“He who made them at the beginning made them male and female. and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Contentment is loving the one you’re stuck with. Happy 35th anniversary Dear!