Last month I shared with you Part 1 about what I learned in my first year of marriage. I have even more to say on the subject, and this one goes deeper. Turns out I learned a lot!
Marriage requires close friendship.
Nick and I were friends first, and our relationship took over a year to turn romantic. I am so grateful we had that kind of start, and I believe it will provide us with a strong, well-balanced foundation for a lifelong commitment to love each other. As I got engaged, I read a book called Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, and believe it or not, I found myself agreeing with much of what the author had to say. One of my favorite quotes from the book is this:
“What makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane and often boring non-profit business. And I mean this in a good way.”
A large part of why I married Nick was because I knew he was the person I could team up with for the rest of my life (even when things are mundane and boring!) although we currently go out of our way to make life interesting. (Nick’s life motto is “Some pursue happiness. I create it!) I would be hard-pressed to find a better partner to do life with. I tend to be idealistic, he is pragmatic. He is the yin to my yang. But also we have a blast together. While we are an example of how opposites attract, our shared goals and similar approach to life is why we work.
Marriage can divide your heart.
A year into marriage, I am finding myself living out the reality of 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. When I was single, for the most part, I could spend my free hours however I pleased. I could work until whatever hour I finished, make last-minute dinner plans with friends, and take weekend road trips at will. But now I feel responsible to play an equal part in our household. There is laundry to do, a menu to plan, and a quality time quota with my other half to be met. Years ago, I was intrigued by these lyrics Bethany Dillon penned for her song Say Your Name after she became a newlywed:
I’m trying to find a moment with You
These days are speeding by
This ring gives me a new point of view
I’m a dealer in my time
And if I can make a confession
My time is torn between
The man who has won my affection
And the God who made me
Now that I am married, I completely identify with those words. I often feel torn as to how I should spend my time. I can’t tell you how many times I have become aware that I should spending time with God alone, but it has been easier to confide in and hear immediate feedback from someone with flesh. Living this way allows for a cheapened substitute, as I can slip into searching for temporary fulfillment in my husband instead of my eternal God.
Marriage helps my doubts fade.
Throughout our dating relationship (both times around), as well as my previous relationships, I struggled intensely with doubt. I started dating way too young. I was your quintessential girl with daddy issues. I made a lot of bad choices in my desperation to be loved, and by the time I met Nick, I was carrying so much baggage, I told him it would be too heavy a burden for him to bear and that he should leave me to carry it alone. The wounds from my prior relationships were still open and oozing. I felt like I was bleeding out. After so much destruction, I wondered how in the world I could possibly know someday if I was marrying the right person.
I give God the credit for my making my heart whole again, but I have found that good love works like strong medicine. How I moved from that broken place to now being happily married for over a year is a very long story I hope to share here one day, but the short version is that love won out. Every time I hit an emotional brick wall or had a melt down, Nick met me with supernatural grace, encouragement, patience, and love. He loved me when I was unlovable. The love he modeled for me in our dating relationship and engagement has remained constant through our first year of marriage. He has seen me at my best and at my worst and chosen to love me anyway. Marriage has not erased my doubt completely (I still have my days), but Nick’s unwavering love works like a salve on my wounds, and my scars are fading. The more Nick loves me, the more my heart swells. For our recession song at our wedding, we played these words from Mumford and Sons’ After The Storm:
And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
I am living out my greatest hope from my wedding day, when I stood with grace in my heart and flowers in my hair. I am discovering that this love binds me up, that this love is safe. With each passing day, it is dismissing my fears. And the grace being poured out upon me just keeps streaming, from the heart of my Abba Father through the actions of my husband. My cup overflows.
Does your heart ever feel divided in relationship? How have you seen redemption in marriage? What are the greatest lessons you have learned from your own marriage or marriages you have observed?