I recently joined a Bible Study at our base chapel that circles around Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. I have absolutely loved being a part of a church community with GFCC and also having resources with our base chapel. So far, this Bible Study has been such an enlightening experience that has really helped me to be a better partner and spouse to Ryan.
When I first read the above quote, it rubbed me the wrong way. In fact, I may have called bullshit. There are thousands of Pinterest boards to prove otherwise, I had scoffed. There was just something so annoying about the fact that marriage wasn't created to make each member of the couple h a p p y. Damn it, I want to be happy! The deployments, the fairy-tale-come-true homecomings, the whole concept of getting married young because you're madly in love- happiness should be a packaged deal with that. Even at 2.5 years of marriage, reading that quote annoyed me. Despite constant arguments about anything and everything, I still expected Ryan to ride in on a white stallion. There has to be some hidden key with this, something that by turning a switch the happiness factor owns above all else.
Then I went to the Bible study about Sacred Marriage.
It helped me gain so much perspective on what that quote means. When you think of yourself as being a follower of Christ, it's because he's an iconic and virtuous man who is the son of God. He's pretty darn flawless. However, when we get married, it's two sinners coming together and trying to share a life aka chaos will ensue. You will stumble. You will create children who stumble. Your friends in their marriages will stumble. It's ok.
It also says something about the expectations we have on our spouse. We have a God who loves us unrelentlessly. As a role model in our lives, it's pretty difficult to compete with that. We also relay those expectations onto other aspects of our lives. Take Pinterest- wedding boards fill almost every woman's (or man's) account. It even fills mine and I'm already married. There's always that thought in the back of our head that if something didn't go exactly how we pictured, we deserve the opportunity or chance to give it another go. Ryan and I got married in a courthouse and I become giddy at the prospect of a vow renewal. But what if I never get that Pinterest-perfect vow renewal? That doesn't mean that I'm not married. It just further reinforces that I'm still married and my marriage is a beautiful thing. Once we have that vintage-inspired, pin-worthy wedding, our lives don't just end at "happily ever after." There's still a marriage with its trials and tribulations to follow. We all stumble and you cannot expect your imperfect partner to all of a sudden become the person of your dreams out of nowhere.
Now I say that, but how many times have I expected Ryan to spontaneously say that he's planned a date that could rival those found on The Bachelor. It happens all of the time but that's why need to create realistic expectations of our spouses.
We are people filled with flaws. Although I love crafting, baking, and designing, I am by no means the 50's domestic goddess that I think most husbands expect their wives to be. I am organized with my life, usually, but in understanding a solid cleaning schedule...it's just not that important to me. I do not have that innate force within me that says, "do laundry." Unless I have a list of chores, things don't get done. I'm also someone who believes in being spontaneous, and is willing to fund whatever fun opportunity I find at a whim. Ryan is not this at all. He is exceptionally responsible and organized. His military background has contributed to him being an incredibly disciplined person. Along those lines, my salty Marine is not romantic...like at all. Where he wishes I would clean up the house more, I wish I would find sporadic love letters from him. It's a tough balance.
But that's the beautiful thing about marriage. It makes us HOLY. I would argue that many relationships, regardless if you are married or not, may accomplish this as well but marriage indefinitely does. God places us into these unions for a purpose. It shapes us, nurtures us, and creates a better version of ourselves. It tames our expectations of our spouses and the other people in our lives. With Ryan I am forced to have perseverance, understanding, and a different aspect of maturity in being his wife. For Ryan he is put into a position to have all of those qualities as well.
As Gary Thomas said, you can't simply say, "I have a difficult marriage." Every marriage has their difficulties. I used to say that all of the time, "Ryan and I have a difficult marriage because we're young, on a limited budget, argue frequently, etc." However, these are common things that people argue over. Marriage is a simply difficult thing.
However we're not in this alone.
During my last Bible Study meeting, Chaplain Rob's wife explained that he says this prayer and she started saying it, too. "Lord, let me love my spouse in a way that he has never been loved before."
How incredible is that? For some reason, a light just went off in my head. In loving your spouse in a way that he or she has never been loved before, affords them the opportunity to experience a new aspect of your relationship. It offers them guidance, patience, and forgiveness. It truly is a prayer in love. It is embracing your insecurities, the insecurities of your marriage, and simply loving your spouse. So simply, yet so meaningful.
I highly recommend reading and watching Sacred Marriage.
If you've participated in the Bible Study,
what did you learn from it?