It’s a cliche saying, but it is everywhere! In fairy tales, movies, and sitcoms. On picture frames, pillowcases, and tattoos. My husband and I even have it displayed on the gallery wall in our master bedroom:
And they lived Happily Ever After.
There is nothing wrong with this statement, but when these words become so ingrained into one’s heart and mind that it becomes an expectation or entitlement, disappointment abounds. I know because I’ve lived the disenchantment. I’ve thought, “Communication shouldn’t be this hard!” I have had my moments of screaming, “Not fair,” and “I didn’t sign up for this.”
One truth in my marriage that echoes in the hundreds of conversations I have had with others is this:
Marriage is surprisingly difficult.
It is hard to be a self-centered sinner married another self-centered sinner. It is difficult to forgive seventy-times-seventy. It is counterintuitive to die to yourself by putting your individual dreams aside for the benefit of your family. It requires a massive amount of self-control and accountability to stay emotionally and physically faithful to one person for the rest of your life. But it’s worth it.
I am pro-marriage and believe strongly in the institution that God ordained. I desire to spend the rest of my life holding this sacred covenant in the highest regard. But, I never want to be misleading by saying that marriage is always easy or natural. I don’t want to complain or gripe about my husband or our struggles, but I do want to share authentically our lives so that our marriage is a realistic, God-glorifying encouragement to others. Society makes marriage more difficult that it is because it presents the assumption that living “happily ever after” is a right. When reality proves that times that are tougher than we can imagine are inevitable. The pain we never expected will one day be at our front door. Changing our mindset so that we no longer live with the false assumption that a good marriage occurs naturally and is full of fun and happiness will better equip us to navigate rough waters.
Because the Biblical reality is our marriage is more important than my happiness.
And that is difficult to embrace!
Today, as I type this, my marriage is in a very healthy place. I can raise my hand and testify that the institution of marriage can multiply joys and divide sorrows. It is equally important to note, though, that Jason and I have had very challenging seasons where we’ve encountered struggles, betrayed each other’s trust, and experienced indescribable loneliness. And while I do not wish for harder challenges, I’m confident that my husband and I will experience even more difficult seasons in the future because that’s life.
This world needs people who will shatter the unrealistic expectations brought on by a cliche by spreading the word that a marriage is difficult and beautiful!
- Can we ban together and declare, “A successful marriage comes at a price… the price of self.”
- Let’s wake up every morning and say, “Marriage God’s way will be the most difficult thing I will do today, but it is worth it.”
- Expect to live through the challenging parts of our vows (for worse, for poorer, and in sickness).
- Will you join me in being intentional in remembering that God cares more about our marriage that our personal happiness?
And they lived difficulty ever after!