Recognizing that marriage (and life in general!) is hard gave us more realistic expectations that serious issues are just a part of life.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
My friends were getting married, and in my dreamy-eyed, naïve opinion it had all the makings of a beautiful ceremony — until the officiating minister began to speak.
I was single at the time, and my close friend Steve attended the same wedding. I don’t know what advice we expected the pastor to share: godly words of wisdom, tips on how to keep a romance alive … the usual fare.
But what he told the beaming bride and groom that day surprised us. He shared simply, “Marriage is hard.” He repeated it for what felt like endless times during his message to the couple. “Marriage is hard,” he reiterated. (I’m sure he shared lots of reasons why this was true. But all of that was lost on my 20-something self.)
Sigh. I left the church that day a little down on marriage. I remember thinking, That has got to be THE most UN-romantic marriage advice I ever heard.
Yet God has a sense of humor. That close friend? We started dating not long after that wedding, and were married the following year. And it didn’t take long before we realized how true those pastor’s words were: Marriage is hard. Really. Hard.
Like most of my peers, I’d grown up with an idyllic view of marriage, convinced it was full of endless romance and blissful memory making. In reality, however, my husband’s new job was very demanding which meant our time together was ridiculously scarce.
Throw in a move to a new city in the midst of a major recession, while trying to find full-time work for me, and it was a rude awakening to the “endless bliss” I expected. Additionally, we watched helplessly while our dear friends and mentors’ long-term marriage was on the rocks.
Steve and I would argue about not having enough money, how to spend our free time, and then have these molehill-to-mountain “discussions” over things like which brand of noodles to buy at the grocery store. Who knew you could shed tears over pasta?
In spite of all the external hardships we faced, maybe the most challenging part of marriage was learning to forgive each other. We quickly realized offering forgiveness, even to the love of our lives, isn’t always easy!
One thing that helps as I continue to learn to forgive is to remember how much the Lord forgave me. Our key verse encourages us in this way: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
When I start counting grievances toward my husband, I remember Jesus forgave all my unloving and unlovely behavior. Many days I cry out to the Lord for help with my snippy attitude because I need His grace to help me forgive. To be honest, sometimes I’d much rather stew in a sea of self-righteousness.
But I’m also learning to accept responsibility for my misgivings and apologize without blaming my husband for my own selfish behavior. It’s tough, and I can’t say I always do it well.
In the 20-plus years since Steve and I got married, we’ve continually benefitted from that “un-romantic advice” offered years ago. Recognizing marriage (and life in general!) is hard gave us more realistic expectations that serious issues are just a part of life. That’s why we need divine help!
The solemn vows we took to remain faithful ‘til death do us part sure do mean a lot more on hard days — especially when the “for worse,” the “in sickness” or the “for poorer” kicks in.
Because yes, marriage is hard, but no matter what situations we face, God is there to help us through it. None of our issues faze God in the slightest. And more importantly, He can handle it!
Dear God, sometimes life can be SO hard and I need Your guidance to navigate my path. Lord, help me keep forgiving when I’d much rather hold a grudge, knowing You have totally forgiven me. Empower me to keep fighting for my marriage. Give me strength to show my mate some unconditional love in meaningful ways today, just like You’ve done for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (ESV)
Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
As you think about the hard things facing you in life right now, pray and ask God for wisdom to help navigate them.
What’s one thing you can do today to remind your husband how much you love him, even when marriage is hard?