A Wife Loved Like The Church

Posts Tagged ‘Marriage

Jonathan and I have been married for nine years.

Nine years.

Calculated a little differently, that’s 108 months; or 472 weeks; or 3309 days. Or, just a really long(ish) time.

Y’all know I don’t front about things that are hard. I don’t put on a shiny face or pretend like things are blissful, when in fact, they aren’t. I’m honest for a myriad of reasons, especially when it comes to life’s hardships, because I think being dishonest about the hardships of life sets us up for failure. And when it comes to marriage, there are hardships.

Here’s the thing we need to make really, really clear. Hard isn’t bad.

Did you get that?

Hard isn’t bad.

Just because marriage is hard, doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you bail out, give up, move on. It’s just the opposite. You press in, you give more, you hold on.

And when hard happens, it can lead to great.

There was a time when I thought my marriage would never be “great”. Sure, we’d stay married, we’d raise babies together, walk through life together. But I wasn’t sure that in ten years we could look back and say we had a great marriage.

Then all hell broke loose. We spent 8 months wrapping our heads around our new life. Our hard life. We dealt with depression, with anger, with loneliness, with guilt, with all the feelings you can feel. And it was HARD. Like, super hard. Yet, somehow, in that hardness, in that anguish, our marriage came back. We started talking again. Like, really talking. We started opening up, started praying together. It was as though we started fresh, but with this whole beautiful, messy history to look back on.

Slowly, things got better. Sure, we still argued (let me rephrase that, argue), but things are different. Now it’s a whole lot less arguing about each other, and a whole lot more arguing for each other. For the first time ever, I think Jonathan and I are playing for the same team, going after the same things, holding each other up. And it’s beautiful. And it’s wonderful. And it’s still hard.

But, hard it’s bad.

Because when things are hard and you fight even more for it, you realize just how much you want that one thing. Just how valuable that person is to you. It makes the hard not bad. In fact, it turns it into great.

 

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The life of a grad student is challenging. Especially if they have full time jobs and family. They literally work non-stop 6 or 7 days a week. There are early mornings and late nights. Breaks are far and few in between.

The life of a wife married to a grad student is challenging. It’s single parenting 6 or 7 days a week. There are early mornings and late nights. Breaks are far and few in between.

Tack on life commitments, theology studies, marathon training, new jobs, little sleep, and even fewer dates, and you find yourself in a revolving door that never slows down.

This is where Jonathan and I have been for nearly a year. Constant go-go. Never stopping, just pushing through. Holding everything together, tediously keeping it all from collapsing, all from breaking.

Until it breaks.

About three weeks ago, after another long week, Jonathan called to say he’d be home late. Again. During the conversation he said “Babe, you need to let me know when enough is enough. We are in this together. I need to know how you’re doing.” Enough was last June. Enough was last December. Enough was yesterday. We are past enough. Immediately, pride crept into my heart. I thought “If you can’t see that I’ve had enough, I’m not going to tell you.” I went silent on him and our conversation ended quickly after. I found myself left standing in my house clinging to my pride.

My evil, lying pride.

In that moment along side my pride, like a flood washing over me, the Holy Spirit prompted this thought ::

This is how divorces start. 

Divorces don’t just happen. You don’t go from honeymoon happy to bitterly divorced. Divorces start off like a disease; small and unseen. And when left untreated, they grow until what once lived dies.

So in that moment, that moment of realizing that this life I had built, this love I had cultivated, this relationship I cherished could be killed, I hit my knees. I cried out to my Heavenly Father because, I knew that in my own power, in my own selfish desire, I would divorce Jonathan. This life can get too hard, and I don’t like hard. But… {oh what a wonderful word} with Christ’s power my marriage will continue to stay strong, even when it’s hard.

So I prayed. Prayed for my heart, prayed for my attitude, prayed for my marriage. And then I told Jonathan how I felt, what I was struggling with, my loneliness and frustration. I talked, he listened. He talked, I listened.

That weekend, Jonathan and I talked to our closest couple friends. They already knew what was going on, but we still needed them to help us in the thick of it. Help point us to truth. Help us remember our desperate need for Christ. {Where would we be without good friends?}

Then we booked tickets to New York. Just Jonathan and I. No kids, no obligations. Just the two of us.

We leave this Friday. {And a chorus from heaven sang “hallelujah!”}

Things are still hard. Life is still busy. But this truth has sunk down deeper in me than ever before :: Divorce is not an option for our marriage.

For that moment, standing in my bedroom after that phone conversation, I saw the path my life could go down. And I don’t want that. The heartache, the tears, the pain. It’s not worth it. So instead, we are fighting for our marriage. We are not letting this ship sink, we are not backing down, we are not giving up. Together we are clinging to our sure foundation.

When Jonathan and I got married, we did not have very good examples of long lasting marriages. During our first year of marriage, God brought some exceptional families into our lives, who showed us what marriages looked like – both in good and bad times. They showed us how God desires to take two fallen, broken people, and allow them to grow – together –  to look more like Him.

Even with those examples, I still clung to a lot of “only ifs” in my commitment to Jonathan. I’ll stay married to him “only if he remains faithful”. I’ll continue to submit to him “only if he puts me first”. I’ll continue to love him “only if he earns my love”. This list went on. Yet, in the last year, God has been showing me there are no “only ifs” in marriage. There is only EVEN IF. I will stay married to him even if he is unfaithful. I will continue to submit to him even if he doesn’t put me first. I will continue to love him even if I don’t feel he has earned my love.

Those are hard commitments to live out. But marriage is hard. Marriage takes work, takes effort, takes putting your wants, your desires, your dreams on the back burner. Because marriage isn’t about you. Marriage is about God. Marriage is established as a way to show the world a more complete view of Christ and His church. And when you enter a marriage, you make a commitment to not just your spouse, but to God. Even when your spouse fails {because they will fail} you are still committed to God in your marriage.

Floating around the internet is this wonderful story of Ian and Larissa. I ask you to take the 9 minutes to watch it ::

If you are interested in taking a look at the book Larissa mentions, This Momentary Marriage, you can get a free PDF copy HERE.

*I realize there are lots of complicated reasons for divorce and it’s not a black-and-white, cut-and-dry situation. And I am certainly not judging people who have been divorced. I’m just calling out, saying, in a society that claims marriage is for our betterment and pleasure only, perhaps we’ve missed the whole point. 

When I met Jonathan, he was a big flirt. He’s just such an open, welcoming guy that flirting comes pretty naturally to him. Though, once we started dating, his flirting around ended and he just focused it on me.

I, on the other hand, should have had flirt lessons. Cause when it comes to flirting, I just don’t have the skills. Which is why this quote fits me perfectly ::

{photo credit}

Over our six years of marriage, I’ve slowly learned how to flirt with Jonathan. I can say something flirtatious and not feel quite so incredibly awkward. Though, it does help knowing that he’s going to love me despite my random flirt gone bad. And truth be known, I’m really glad Jonathan loves me for my awkwardness. Makes me feel loved even deeper.

Are you a good flirt? Do you flirt with your spouse?    


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