Monday, November 23, 2015

Truth About Marriage

Some days it is just oh so clear why serial divorce is a thing.

It's easier to fall in love than it is to stay in love.

The rewards of falling in love are like fizzy beverages... tingling and fresh. They go down smooth and leave you heady and breathless.

The rewards of staying in love are different. A bit heavy. They're the matching scars you bear from healing side by side. Tinged with salt and grit and bound up wounds and the rust stains of iron wills that say, "I'm here. I'm not leaving." Less glamorous. More gracious.

Falling in love is full of possibility and bravery and chance and newness. No one has yet been disappointed. No one has failed for the 100th time. Faith may have been dashed once, but it hasn't yet been dashed into oblivion over and over against the rocks of unchangeable human nature and stubbornness. He hasn't been beaten by cruel life. She hasn't been soured by frustrated aspirations. All is hope.

Oh, but staying in love... Staying in love is a long, slow road where possibility often disappoints, and hope often tarnishes under trials. Where life's brutality molds hopers into something they never planned to be. Where we become so accustomed to the things we love about each other that we take them for granted, and only the things that drive us bonkers seem to shine above the monotony of daily living... in a tiny house with two babies... and only one microscopic bathroom.

I'm tired of newly married people saying, "Oh, marriage isn't hard! We're different. We're better matched. We beat the odds." (I said it myself even just a few years ago.) Shut up. In the scheme of a 60 year relationship, you practically just glanced at each other. You're making those who have been on this road much longer than you feel sick. What loss have you overcome? What sleepless nights? What broken hearts? What frustrated careers? What abysmal loss of identity? What loss of life or health or dreams? Of course your marriage isn't hard. You barely know each other. Suffer together, and then talk. Feel yourself changed from the fresh dreamer into the weary parent. Apologize and promise for the 1000th time.

I'm so tired. Tired of trying and never being enough. Tired of reaching for love. Tired of giving. Tired of receiving. Tired of things getting lost in translation. I'm tired of being myself. I don't want to be the messy, complicated, creative, wild-spirited person that I am. I'd rather be clean-lined, simple, smooth. That's what my husband says he wants. He wants meat and potatoes on the table and no drama.

Why did he marry me? I didn't hide my true nature. I was honest. I pulled no punches. I've always been a roiling, wind-whipped sea. If his heart's desire is a glassy lake, why me?

Marriage is not ours. We think that we create it. We think that we sustain it. No. Marriage is God's mission. He brings us together. Sometimes we sail, wing to wing and oar to oar. Sometimes we chafe like iron sharpening iron.

My husband does not need a glassy sea. He needs me.

I do not need a rushing river. I need the heavy oaken roots of the anchored tree, slowing the churning water of my soul into slower pools and eddies.

I can never sweep him away.
He can never stop me.
There will always be friction there.

We hurt each other often. It is natural that sometimes we would both wish to walk away. We are very different, he and I. As we pull against each other, we create a certain balance in the middle. God has given us to each other. His wisdom is clear. But oh how the pulling aches me today.

Here's the grace:  It isn't about being the perfect wife or husband. Perfect was never part of the equation. Our wobbling souls are exactly what our spouse needs. Their pitching decks are exactly where our feet should be planted. This is the way we grow.

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