"Marrwage... marrwage is what bwings us togetha todaayyy.. Marrwage... that bwessed union. "
Ok, so anyone who has not see "Princess Bride" doesn't get that at all, but the rest of us are conjuring up images of a medieval wedding in which the bride is being forced to marry someone she doesn't love and the priest is a goofball...
But in all seriousness, marriage has been on my mind a lot lately. One one side I know someone who is in love for the first time. You remember that fun, giddy, exciting love? And on the other side I know a couple of people going through divorces and separations and that is heart wrenching and sad.
So I've had marriage on my mind A LOT lately. I've chatted with Matt a lot about it, wondering what makes some marriages work and others not. My first notion, as a Christian, was to think Christ was what made a marriage work. But then I look around and see the divorce rate for Christians to be as high as the divorce rate for non-Christians.
I think the scary thing about marriage (or any relationship for that matter) is that you cannot know what the other person is thinking. You cannot get in their minds and know for sure that they will be 100% committed to you forever. In fact, they may not even know it themselves. They may feel that they are, but life happens. Things change, feelings change, people change... and in those changes minds change and people grow apart.
I'm not writing any of this because Matt & I are going through a rough patch. Just the opposite, to be honest. We are crazy in love still, but I'm trying to figure out what makes us work? Why are we crazy in love after 11 years of marriage when so many marriages barely make it to the 7 year mark? The only things I can think of are:
1. Mutual Respect
2. Commitment to this marriage
3. A desire to grow and nurture our marriage
#1 and #3 are two I want to chat about a bit.
Mutual respect... I'm part of an online board that is very adamant against Women Only Submission in marriage. I get that... and I agree to a certain extent. I agree that there needs to be mutual submission, but I have a twist on that. Mutual submission is good... and Biblically mandated (and I can show you verses to prove it if you ask), but I believe that in the end the husband is the head. Over the years there have been a few times where Matt & I couldn't make a huge decision by meeting in the middle. In those times I've agreed to trust him in his decision and honestly, it has always worked out for the best. But he never makes a big decision w/out consulting me and taking my opinion into account and typically we come to a conclusion together... thus mutual respect/submission to each other.
#3 ... You don't plant a seed and hope it grows & survives w/out nurturing it. You don't have a baby and hope it grows & survives w/out nurturing it... so how would you expect a marriage to grow and survive w/out nurturing it? Matt & I have set aside one day/month where we have a 'date night' at home. This entails putting the kids to bed early, cooking a meal together & playing games or watching a fun movie. We actually try to do this more than once/ month but we have one specific day set aside so we know we'll definitely do it at least once. We also try to get away alone for a weekend once/year. That's not always easy w/ little ones, but it usually happens. I'd love to see us have a real date once/month too, but haven't been able to make that work yet. It's good to continue to see yourselves as a couple and not just "mom & dad" or lost in your jobs.
Actually ~ I want to address communication too. I think this is the absolute key. I think it makes or breaks any relationship/marriage/friendship. For us this means discussing everything that needs to be put out there before it becomes a big issue. Rather than letting this fester and build up inside, it's best to get it out before it's too late. But, on the flip side, there is a time to hold back as well. I often think about a problem for a day. I decide if it's worth rocking the boat about or is it better to change my attitude about it and move on w/out making it an issue. I've done both... at times I feel it's a big enough issue that we need to talk it out and work on it. Other times I feel I can just 'get over it' and move on. If it comes up again, I reevaluate and decide all over again. And that works for us.
All in all ~ it really takes two. He has to be as open and honest in the relationship and you are and you can't guarantee that. This fact was reallllly eating away at me recently. I went to a women's retreat at my church. It was just a day retreat, but it was good. In a quiet moment of prayer I asked God to help me trust my husband. And I heard God say "You don't have to trust Him, just trust Me." Hmm... I found it comforting and so whenever I start to worry about whether my husband will change his mind about us one day I throw that into a prayer to the Lord and give it to Him. I cannot control my husband's mind. I can't even know what's going on in the deep places of his mind. I cannot know if we'll be together for 50+ years. What I can know is that , at this moment in time, we are in love. At this moment in time we are committed to 50+ years. The one thing that won't ever change is God and I know that no matter what happens, He will be there.