Hi, friend! We’re talking about the ways God has helped us bloom in marriage this month. Tracy shared a fabulous post last week, Kim will share next week, and we have a precious guest interview post lined up the following week. Don’t miss out! This week, I’m sharing something that applies to all relationships, but especially the marriage relationship. Enjoy!
I (Jennifer) sat sheepishly at the table during our team meeting that night. I got gut-level honest. “I’m not sure what to write about in June. I’ve been growing through marriage for nearly two decades, but I don’t feel confident at all.” Sometimes I’m not sure what I’m able to contribute to the conversation.
Rewind to September 26th 1997. “It’s not about the wedding day,” they said, “It’s the fifty years after that day.” Of course that was true, but I didn’t know what the words meant.
Mid-October married life wasn’t the fairy tale I imagined. The honeymoon was short. The toothpaste tube was a bizarre battleground. We struggled to communicate clearly (and sometimes gently). It wasn’t all bad, but it was harder than I ever dreamed.
Nineteen years ago I married the nicest guy. (Really, I did!) We bought a cute, little Cape Cod home (all 750 square feet of it!) and began our cute, little life together. Already in our late twenties, it felt right to start a family, and I was surprised how quickly that happened. Four days after our first anniversary dinner, our first son was born. Two and a half years later, we bought a larger home and added a second son nine days after moving in. (If it feels like a whirlwind as you read it, living it wasn’t that different.) We’ve lived and schooled in this house for 16 years now.
That’s the short version of our story. That’s not my marriage, really—or is it? Does hitting the ground running influence the rooting and establishing of love at the beginning of a marriage? It may. I know one thing, though: if I did it again, I would only change one thing, and it wouldn’t have anything to do with the storyline’s events. What would I change? I’d change my heart.
“You lose your way when you lose your why.” ~ Michael Hyatt
If anything, I’ve learned marriage is about the fifty years after the wedding day. Most importantly, a why existed before the wedding, was woven into it, and threads through the years that follow. The best marital resources encourage soul exploration and remembrance to the beginning of the relationship. That why was the reason for late-night phone calls, extravagant date nights, and the mix of chick flicks, comedies, and action movies. It was behind the long conversations seated at Denny’s and meandering through the mall, big box stores, and forest preserves. And there was some big why behind my man choosing to take care of the unpleasant things: one day burying a dog, another returning to my place at 11 PM to empty a freshly-set mouse trap. We have our whys, don’t we?
“Flowers need fertilizer.” ~ Kim Findlay
The why we all begin with is a seed, and a beautiful flower can come from it. Whatever grows, though, will need water and a little fertilizer. Sometimes I think the “manure” in life—as annoying as it is—has purpose. Difficult situations forged something in our relationship nothing else would. I’m learning to trust that and not despise the tough stuff. It’s fertilizing, right?
I mentioned I would change something but not the events. You see, I’m learning to acknowledge (and bloom in) something these days: I can be selfish.
“Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves. ” ― Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare
When I’m honest, it’s hard to be gracious, loving, and sacrificial sometimes. It can start with a simple call for respect (not always wrong), but it can twist into an ugly, sculpted caricature of me on a big, old pride base. My spiritual mettle is tested by patient, sacrificial love in marriage and parenting.
“Love is a commitment that will be tested in the most vulnerable areas of spirituality, a commitment that will force you to make some very difficult choices. It is a commitment that demands that you deal with your lust, your greed, your pride, your power, your desire to control, your temper, your patience, and every area of temptation that the Bible clearly talks about. It demands the quality of commitment that Jesus demonstrates in His relationship to us.” ― Ravi Zacharias, I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah: Moving from Romance to Lasting Love
Some days I don’t need to defend myself, my power, or my desire to control. On really good days I am patient, kind and look a little more like 1 Corinthians 13. I’m going to be real with you; these are tough choices. I have so far to grow in that Corinthians passage. I’m hopeful I’m not the only one, but even if I were, you’d need to know the “real Jen.” (Here I am, friends.)
I want to grow in one thing, and I think that would make all the difference in the world in every relationship—not just marriage, but especially marriage!
“Patience gives your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time than they deserve to correct it. It gives you the ability to hold on during the rough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure.” ―Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare
Patience in marriage is a precious gift! When a spouse gives it, someone receives time to identify the course correction that may need to be made. Truthfully, I need it as much or more than my husband does. Here’s the great thing: even if he knows I need it more than he does, he won’t say it publicly. I notice the grace and patience I receive. I’ve begun checking my personal growth in that area regularly. The question I sit with now is, “Does this need to be addressed immediately, or can it wait?” Maybe a little time could give me more perspective, better words, or even the course correction I need. More importantly, extra time may give me time to hear the Lord speak.
Do you resonate with this? I know this post is different from previous ones, but it was the thing I had to share. You see, I’m speaking with you—but I’m also speaking to me. You know that, right? While I love 1 Corinthians 13, I knew I had to share something different. Read the passage. See what God says to you in that, but know I leaned into Christian resources for this post because they are the ones that speak to me right now.
I’m conscious that not all our readers are married. I love you all, ladies, but especially those who hang in to this point even when you’re single. I couldn’t love you any more than I do right now. Thank you! For you, I realize the above may be a challenge, but give patience a chance in any relationship, and see how it goes. I think you’ll find it helpful. If you’re looking for my best advice, I think I’ll leave you with this—
“An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.” ―Agatha Christie
Thanks for reading, friend! Contribute to the conversation with comments below or at our Facebook Page. Please share FACETS with your friends on social media, too.