I know that perception is often reality. People see my Instagram feed filled with pictures of a smiling couple enjoying life together and probably assume that we have a blissful marriage. Here’s the truth – my marriage is no more perfect than yours. It’s just as likely to suffer heartache, disappointment, betrayal, irritation, discontentment or unhappiness as anyone else’s marriage. Anyone who tells you that their marriage is totally free of those things is either being dishonest or is quite forgetful.
Is that a shock to you? It was a shock to me.
All of my life I had drawn the conclusion that if I made right choices, behaved a certain way, copied the actions of other dutiful wives and generally sought to be a godly wife that I would instantly and forever have a happy marriage. That conclusion was just as wrong as believing I would become wealthy if I sent a donation to a TV evangelist!
My conclusion was not founded in the Truth of God’s Word but was instead built on pride and self-reliance. Here’s what I’ve learned about marriage.
#1 Marriage is not perfect because people are not perfect
Sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. Since that day, every person that has been born is cursed by sin and has a wicked heart! Although I’m grateful to be married to a man who has given his heart to Jesus (as I have), we both still fight our sin nature and our desires to please ourselves!
That’s why I’m so thankful for grace. I must learn to accept God’s grace in my own life and to extend it to my husband as well!
#2 Marriage is not perfect because things that are worth having are not gained without a struggle
I know that sounds like a pithy motivational quote you’d see on a poster in someone’s home gym, but it’s true! Don’t you value things more when you’ve worked and struggled to earn them? I’m proud of the fact that I chose to stay when it would have been easier to run (do you know those times I’m talking about?!). I’m filled with awe and increasing love when I think back to the times my husband pursued me in my most unlovable state. The longer you’re married, the more those times become part of your foundation and less of an earthquake.
#3 Marriage is not perfect because God uses difficulty to help me grow
Our purpose in life – and consequently in marriage – is not to achieve the most comfortable and easy existence possible. Our purpose in life is to give glory to God as we become more like Jesus Christ. God brings difficulty into our lives in order to do just that. I listened to an incredible podcast by Joni Eareckson Tada a few weeks ago. She said, “Even in marriage, especially in marriage, God is not so much interested in removing the problems, the disappointments or the pain. He’s more interested in removing…[my] bitter spirit.” (listen to the rest of the podcast here)
Have you ever considered that God brought a difficulty into your marriage -whether financial loss, infertility or even some kind of moral failure on your spouse’s part – in order to show you an area of your life that He wanted to change? So often we focus on the issue instead of the bigger picture of God’s work in our lives. Marriage can be an incredibly effective refining fire that God uses to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ.
Marriage is not perfect. Marriage isn’t always easy, fun or extremely compelling. I’m certainly not saying that issues in marriage should be shrugged off, chalked up to a sin nature or left unaddressed. I’m a big fan of seeking godly counsel and intervention when necessary. However, I’m very grateful that I can look back over the seven years of my marriage and confidently say that not only do the good times far outweigh the bad, but the bad times make me grateful for the good ones!
I’m still relatively new to the marriage game. I do not have all the answers. If you’re in one of those refining fire periods where things are really not perfect, please know that God sees and He cares. Here are a few passages of Scripture that have been lifelines to me during hard times: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 , 2 Corinthians 9:8, 1 Peter 5:5-7, Ephesians 2:20-21, Hebrews 2:8-9
Here’s something else I know to be true about marriage – it works! Marriage was God’s idea, and everything He does is good. Don’t believe the lie that difficulty in your marriage is a death sentence. In this life you will have trouble – but Jesus has overcome it all! (John 16:33)