I am in a place where I am thinking a lot about the subject of marriage lately. My hubby and I have been married for almost 14 years. We certainly haven’t been married long enough to consider ourselves experts on the subject, but we’ve been married long enough to have learned a thing or three. I’ve noticed some things about marriage that I didn’t realize or really think about in the beginning. I figured I was marrying for love… and being naïve and my head filled with dreams, I assumed that that was enough… then we had our first baby and the real work of making a Marriage began.
You see, every couple marries for a variety of reasons at first… and then we learn the truth, the deep and timeless truth….
You don’t get married to be happy. (any one married for more than a year begins to suspect as much.)
You don’t get married to feel good and look good. (compare most couples wedding photos to their 20 year anniversary photos…)
You don’t yoke yourself to another human being to make life easier, wealthier, or less lonely. (awww come on now!)
Heck, you don’t even get married for sexual gratification. (WHAAAAAAAT?!)
They don’t tell you this stuff in marriage prep classes, (weeelll maybe they do, just not as frankly as I have laid it out here.)
Marriage is about LOVE… real, raw and gritty. (“Duh!” you say… well yeah, but hear me out.)
Love, not romantic (movie kiss, clothes magically melting away in a stylized passion with breakfast in bed),love…You know reality. The dirty diapers, burnt eggs, tangled game controller cords, bitter fights and sweet making up kind of Love. The kind of Love that means you are free to be honest with your spouse, and he can be honest with you, bad breath and bagged eyes and all. The kind of Love that can accept the fact that your mate isn’t perfect, heck you may not even really be “compatible”, but you work on your weaknesses together, and fight together from a point of strength against those things that would blow you apart.
Marriage is about struggle. It’s battling the world with your strongest ally at your back. Sometimes you struggle against each other too… you have to challenge yourselves to grow. A marriage that isn’t struggling, even just a little bit, isn’t growing.
Marriage is about family. Even if you don’t have kids, you still have family. You are a family as a couple. You deal with your spouse’s family and he deals with yours. You can choose your mate, but you can’t choose his family; they come to you as a complete package and sometimes, that can be the greatest challenge you face as a couple. (If both of you come from very challenging family back grounds….ummm leave the country? Just kidding, although there is something to be said for leaving the state for a couple years.) Most married couples agree to conceive and raise children. This is the greatest purpose, the reason for sex, yes, but also the reason why you join as a couple in the first place! Aside from the priesthood, there is no greater vocation, and this one happens to be shared by all faiths and creeds!
In the Sacrament of Marriage, as Christians, we believe that we represent what Christ desires of the Church. Oneness, a total selfless giving between spouses. Marriage can be crucifixion, but also resurrection. We have peaks, we have valleys… sometimes those valleys get cold, dark and long, but you can only climb out again by pressing on… by trying, by choosing to Love.
It hurts deeply when that Love is forgotten. Couples can either explode apart, or slowly drift so far that they don’t remember why they bothered in the first place…they give up in complacency…in selfishness. We are all guilty at some point of these things. What defines a successful marriage from one that fails, is prayer, perseverance and respect. (although a little comfortable complacency, maybe fewer struggles…sounds tempting….uh… on second thought….)
I’ve never met a perfect couple. I’ve never seen one that fits the text book ideals of what is “compatible”. (I don’t know if I could be friends with one that was…honestly… I’d wonder if I was in the Twilight Zone or something.) We are fallen beings who have been shown a perfect Love. It’s something we strive for, and fail at, but it’s worth the effort… every time. Our spouses should be our staunchest allies, our most compassionate friends and our closest companions. It doesn’t come easily. It’s hard work day in and day out, especially when you burn dinner, the dog puddles the floor because no one heard her whining at the door, and the kids make you want to pull your hair out after you repeat the same request over and over again with varying levels of volume and intensity…. ahem… while your better half is off at work dealing with his own struggles and lacks sympathy when you unload your burdens at his feet. It’s hard when it feels like you are talking past each other missing the point of the argument in the first place, but if you take the time to try and listen, you find out that in the end, you both often want the same things… trust, stability, Love.
I guess we were on the right track marrying for love…but what we have found is Love…(the occasional movie kiss, and smelly socks.) :)
From my Heart to yours,
The Hiland Rose