So a few weeks ago, our pastor asked my husband to take his Sunday school class while he was out of town.
“What’cha gonna teach about?”
“Really? Marriage?” Nervous laughter ensued.
I always get nervous when trying to share thoughts about marriage or child-rearing or cleaning…. Anything that involves variables and things I am not perfect at. Or in the case of marriage, the fact that it works despite me.
Something I think we often forget when listening to a preacher or teacher is that we are all imperfect humans made in the image of God. And NONE of us are experts at life. At best, we can share things that work for us, and we can humbly share God’s truth – I say humbly because if we all look closely in the mirror of Scripture, we all could use improving.
Having had 12+ years of experience in marriage doesn’t make me an expert: but when I look at my marriage to Stephen I can say one thing – we are both happy and content with each other and God’s will in putting us together. It shocks us when we think about it.
There is a bunk belief out there that God does not lead anyone to a specific partner. I defy that idea, because of how well our lives work together. Only God can do that. And when I see younger couples looking for marriage advice I feel completely inadequate because nothing I do makes our marriage work. Not only that, but Scripture tells us that God orchestrates our lives according to His plan when we consciously decide to follow Him. (Proverb 3:5-6 is always a good go to, but there are many other passages to support this as well.)
…. And His mercy in giving me a very patient husband. He puts up with so much from me. Seriously. If I was him and had to deal with me, I would have thrown in the towel long ago. I’m not trying to be self-deprecating, it’s just the honest truth.
Does my husband have flaws? Yup. I put up with them. Lots of grace flows between us because we both realize our humanity. I’m not perfect. He’s not perfect. We laugh about it. We do not take ourselves very seriously. We respect each other. We love each other. He realizes I am not him and I realize that he is not me.
So the realization that your marriage will not be perfect because neither of you is perfect is paramount. When you get rid of the expectation that your spouse must be superhuman in their dealings with you, a whole new world opens up. You lighten up.
And once you lighten up, a beautiful thing happens. You grow together. It’s true. When you can take off the facade and just be you with your spouse, understanding happens. Before you know it, you are giving him medication before he even expresses illness, not getting mad that he is not telling you he’s sick. He’s smirking because he knows he just did your pet peeve, and you heartily laugh because he doesn’t know that you just ate the last piece of desert. (Lighten up!) You go through joy and grief and confusion and clarity together and you just know.
But before any of this happens, you need to be honest with yourself and your spouse. You are not perfect. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). “All” includes you. So most problems in marriage are not the fault of one side. It takes two to tango and you can really only work on your own footwork.
It’s hard to come to grips with our flawed nature because a wrong idea of self-esteem is pushed so strong today. Everyone thinks that they are “all that and a bag of chips.” Or whatever it is that the kids are saying nowadays…. And if they do not think they are the “best thing since sliced bread” they are in despair. I submit there is a healthy medium.
There you have it. Marriage advice from the non-expert. Maybe I will give it more often…
** I am sad that I must put disclaimers at the end of marriage posts, but here goes: this advice does not apply if you are in an abusive marriage. If this is the case, please seek help from a safe someone you trust.