My struggle is real. If we are all honest, it is real for each and every one of us. I tend to keep my struggle quiet. Usually, it is silent. That is, until it erupts like a volcano spewing out molten ash burning everything in its path. Over the years, the eruptions have grown farther apart. By God’s grace, the struggle has lessened in its intensity. God has also taught me the subtle art of keeping my mouth shut. Asking for forgiveness is harder to do when you have already been told not to engage. Now I often find the battle plays in my head until I release it to the only One who can intervene on both our behalf.
Marriage is a struggle for most people, even if you are not in one. If you don’t have a marriage, you struggle with the unknown. Do I really want one? Does anyone want me? Am I too young? Am I too old? What if I find the wrong one? What if I let go of the right one? Is it wrong for me to not want one?
If you have divorced, you struggle with the what ifs. Was it my fault? Should I have fought harder? Was I not enough? Why didn’t I listen to people when they told me not to? Why didn’t I see it coming? What if it happens again? Is it worth the heartache to try dating again? And the struggle only grows bigger if there are children involved.
If your widowed the struggles usually start with the cans and shoulds. Should I remain faithful to the vows despite death? Can I open myself up to love again? Can I move on? Should I move on? Can someone new understand the love is still there and will never go away? Can family and friends accept me with someone else? The struggle can grow if there were any type of issues that were also in play at the time of death.
But when you are in married life there is a struggle for both spouses Generally speaking it can be at the same time but often it is at different times for each spouse. Two imperfect people, with different backgrounds, perspectives, expectations and wills coming together in unity. The struggle is there, even if you don’t see it. Marriage, it’s not what it looks like on the surface.
Marriage is messy. Marriage is a place where you learn to be vulnerable. Where you learn to communicate openly even about the tough things. A place where you learn to heal and be healed. Marriage is where you learn how selfish you really are and how to put someone else’s wants and desires above your own. Marriage is where you learn to compromise and learn when you need to stand your ground. Marriage is about honor, trust, love, and respect. Marriage is about intimacy on a level that can never be shared with others. Marriage is complex. complicated, and often contradicting.
That is how marriage really is. We like to think that somewhere there is this perfect marriage where “They lived happily every after.” but there is a reason fairy tales end. Real life is messy. Marriage though is more than just a wedding day, vows, and two people trying to live life together. It is a commitment. It is a covenant. It is our opportunity to learn, especially as Christians, how to love unconditionally. It is our human attempt to learn how to live the life we will walk out with Christ in heaven.
I love my husband, don’t get me wrong. I can with confidence say that he loves me too. We have been married for nineteen years, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. I can say that, because we have been divorced from each other, and still found our way back to this covenant called marriage with each other. We tried to trade each other in, but we bought the same model again! He has been by my side, consistently longer than anyone outside my birth family. I don’t doubt that we are meant to be together.
Yet marriage is still a struggle. We are two very different people. We both are on different paths, that will hopefully arrive at the same destination eventually. There are days that I look at him and think “I am the luckiest girl on the plant.” He truly can be that great of a guy. And yet there are other days that I wonder why I continue the struggle. Like most people we have the same mountains we go around over and over. Some times it looks like we are on the right path, only to revert back to old patterns of behaviors. Some days I am beyond frustrated with him, and I know there are days that he gets frustrated with me.
The difference is where I choose to put my focus. Yes, there are days, like the day I started writing this blog where my focus is on my own wants and needs and I look only at the struggle. It is all too easy to go down that path, and I admit that there are times in my marriage that I lived there. It is a miserable place to be. And it makes for a miserable marriage.
Yet with a quick change of perspective, I can turn my focus onto the things I appreciate about my husband. Some days it may take work; if I don’t want to be miserable and make his life miserable too, it is worth it. I can turn my attention on how he encourages me to pursue my dreams, regardless of the fact that he doesn’t always like the time commitment that my dreams take. Or how great of a grandpa he is with our grandbabies. Or how he is a great provider, hard worker, terrific cook, and when he wants to be has a romantic side that I love to see come out. I see how he tries in his own way to care for me, even if it doesn’t look like I think it should.
When I talk about the great parts of me marriage, I am not trying to portray something that isn’t. I learned some time ago, that God united us into one. When I tear down my husband, I am tearing down not only my marriage, but myself. I choose to build up my husband and our marriage. He generally knows when he has hurt me or is frustrating, he doesn’t need me to share that with social media. The struggle is real. It’s not always what it looks like, but the good side, that is the side of my marriage I choose to let others see.