You can do it!
My daughter, married a whole year and a half, tells me that too many young people are afraid of marriage. Perhaps they’re afraid of the challenge, afraid to fail, afraid of not having any fun. And while marriage is a challenge at times, mostly it’s wonderful. And at the end, when you’ve survived money crunches, schedule crunches, toddlers, and teenagers, it’s wonderful.
I still remember when my husband and I had been married for about a month, and my brother and his girlfriend came over for a short visit. They told us that they were going to get married the next summer. The first thing out of my mouth, before I even thought about it, was something like this: “Oh, you’ll love being married. It’s so much fun!” At that point, I realized that I hadn’t really expected to be happy being married. My parents weren’t happy with each other, at least not that I could see, and my in-laws seemed not really well-suited for each other. I had been prepared for all the disappointments, challenges, and sacrifices involved in marriage, but I hadn’t really been prepared for happiness.
Marriage is hard. There’s no doubt about that. For one thing, the people getting married are immature, at least compared to what they will be later. Put two immature sinners in a living space together and ask them to stay head-over-heels in love, and this spells trouble. Give them children! EGAD! Yet more pressure on this mix. Teenagers! OH NO! We all remember what we put our parents through! How can this immature couple survive?
Marriage is a risk. You have some control over yourself and your decisions, but no real control over another person, whether your spouse or your child. This is frightening, especially when this risk is so easily avoidable by simply not getting married. However, with no risk, there is no reward. Think of Charles Lindbergh! Think of Esther! Think of Harriet Tubman!
However, after a while, since they’ve made a decision to stay married, they’ve learned how NOT to push each other’s buttons, at least not as often. They’ve sanded down each other’s rough edges. They’ve learned how to bring a smile to the other’s face. She’s learned to make spaghetti for supper when he’s had a hard day. He’s learned to compliment her attempts at gardening because it’s important to her. And the rainbows and hearts still show up often enough.
By the time the kids grow up, and they do, they realize that they’ve survived. The time of greatest sacrifice may be over, at least until death approaches. At this point, a married couple can go to the movies on a whim. They can take a weekend and just go somewhere because they feel like it. They can spend money on a bed and breakfast because they’re done buying food for hungry teenagers. They can go for walks and not worry about a babysitter. Having survived together brings a closeness that’s indescribable. They have built a life together, a family, a legacy that will live on. They can be proud of all they have accomplished as a team.
The part of marriage I enjoy best now is that I’ve realized (finally) that I don’t have to be perfect to have someone love me. My husband doesn’t have to be perfect for me to love him. However, as I compare what we were 30 years ago (thin, strong, better looking, and self-centered) to what we are now (heavier, more wrinkly, more tired, but more other-centered), I notice that we’re both also much more pleasant to be around. And when we’re not, I know we can count on each other to just put up with things until we grow out of it. Because we have. And we will continue to grow.
Whenever the Israelites faced trouble, God would find some way to remind them of his faithfulness in the past. After all, he brought them out of Egypt, didn’t he? Certainly he will not fail now. My husband and I are at that point. God has not failed us for over 30 years, and we can trust that he will not fail us for the rest of our lives. Marriage is a great adventure. Do not be afraid.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.
|Elizabeth with her husband and grandchildren|
Elizabeth Petrides teaches English Composition at Baker College in Flint, Michigan. She has raised five children, taught piano lessons, taught middle school for 13 years, and danced at the weddings of three of her children. Her husband of 34 years and her three grandchildren are the best in the world. In her spare time, she enjoys playing piano and gardening.