Can I introduce you to some friends of mine?
Here is the Stock family! Aren’t the gorgeous? Their story is classic: Miss Beautiful married Mr. Handsome, and together they made some adorable offspring. This family has it all together: their love story and their marriage is perfect!
Now, let me share a secret with you about the Stock family!
They aren’t real. I found this picture when I ran an internet search for “stock family photos.” My guess is that these people are unrelated models. 🙂
We all have a real-life Stock family that we know, don’t we? A couple we imagine to have it all and whose marriage has never experienced any real challenges. Despite our efforts to be friends with them, we ultimately struggle with jealousy and insecurity as we compare our marriage to theirs. Now, let me share another secret with you:
There are no perfect marriages!
It sounds trite, but it is true! No couple has a perfect marriage!! I don’t say this to be discouraging, but rather encouraging. Freedom is ushered in when we embrace the truth that no one, not even God, asks us to have a flawless marriage. Every married couple, since Adam and Eve, has had to jump over hurdles and navigate through life’s hurricanes.
Why then, do I feel compelled to pretend that I am in a perfect marriage?
I have an inner longing to be Miss Beautiful, who married Mr. Handsome, and together made adorable offspring. I yearn greatly to be a part of a perfect marriage, but that leaves me feeling embarrassed about our imperfections. I have mastered the “we-have-a-perfect-marriage” mask which keeps our struggles hidden from others. I have bought into the lie that there are perfect couples and that no one would understand our issues.
Those traps are placed by Satan.
Satan does not want us in authentic community with others because he knows that isolation and secrecy breed sin. One doesn’t go from A to Z. They go from A to B, to C, to D and so forth until they reach Z! In my life, I have dabbled in B’s, C’s, and D’s and I continue down the road of poor choices and sin until someone finds out! That is why the Devil wants us to feel alone in our struggles! He wants us to be so ashamed of our thoughts and actions that one day we will find ourselves alone at Z (that place we swore we would never get to) without ever having alerted anyone to our small, seemingly insignificant compromises and struggles along the way.
It works the same way in marriage!
I must become comfortable reaching out when things are going from A to B or even B to C in my relationship with my husband. There is a Restoration Committee at our church whose sole purpose is to restore individuals in the church who have found themselves in very messy situations. I heard a man on that committee once say, “by the time we get the call, it is usually too late to help.” I never want to get to that point in our marriage, but yet if I hesitate to share our simple problems, how will I reach out for help during the truly trying times? For me, the ability to ask for help starts by embracing the fact that there are no perfect marriages!
Disclaimer: there are right ways and wrong ways to share your struggles. It is never appropriate to belittle your husband or speak disrespectfully of him or your situation. It is honorable to share your struggles quietly with the hopes of receiving wisdom and encouragement. Likewise, there are safe people and unsafe people when it comes to being authentic. You want to avoid friends who gossip or offer worldly advice. Ideally you are looking for a counselor or close friend who will hold you to Biblical standards, offers a different perspective, and encourage you to focus on how you can grow as a spouse.
Recently in my life several marriages have crumbled to the ground. Friends, family, and neighbors are in the midst of divorces, and I feel blindsided because I never knew these couples were struggling! I feel hurt that no one reached out and asked for prayers or support before their marriages reached the breaking point. But, reality is that I too wrestle with putting on a show when it comes it my relationship with my husband. I want to be seen as a Stock family whose marriage is perfect, but fake perfection doesn’t help anyone. I need godly friends who I can enlist to be my prayer warriors and advice givers on a daily basis. I need to remove my mask and talk about my bad attitude or my wrong doings with a teachable and humble spirit. If I can learn to approach them in the small, daily bumps in our marriage, then I will have created for myself a safety net of people I can count on when significant issues arise. Having a support system in place will (hopefully) prevent our marriage from ever getting to Z!
What good is a community if there is no authenticity? What good is authenticity if there is no community? Authentic community strengthens marriages!
Do you ever struggle with wanting to be a Stock family?
Sharing with Wedded Wednesday.