A Marriage Built to Last

On Building Marriages That Last
     As a recent reader of Relevant magazine, the article happened to catch my eye when the newsletter e-mail hit my inbox – “8 Types of Women You Should Never Date.” Anytime absolutes are stated, something stirs my prove-you-wrong side. Yes, I’m well aware that statement alone probably lands me in one of the eight categories.
Fortunately for me, my husband’s already married. Unfortunately for him, it’s too late.
     So I had him read the article anyways and asked him which category I’d most likely fall under. Dangerous question, but I was curious. About five seconds into the article, he started out with a “Well, you’re definitely not this one!”
     “Which one?”
     “The one that says you’ll default to all my preferences and beliefs. The follower one.”
     I wasn’t really sure if that was a good or bad thing, but I got the point that I’m not a pushover…And that maybe my preferences have a tendency of winning out.
     He finished the article without another word and so I asked him again which girl I most resemble. With a smile he said, “I didn’t date any of them, but I can tell you the three women I married.”
     It was too funny not to laugh, but I’m sure I went on to over-dramatize the statement, criticize his response and micromanage the situation. At least I’m consistent with my multiple personalities.
     But isn’t that how marriage goes? Isn’t that how relationships in general go? The more you know, the more dirt you dig up. We hear about couples growing in marriage and discovering all these wonderful new things about each other with each year that passes, but we don’t talk so much about the discoveries that just aren’t so wonderful. To know someone more deeply is to see further into both the strengths and the flaws.
     We’re a pick and choose culture, and that doesn’t bode well for longevity of marriage. We want it our way. I’ll take the love, patience, and service, but hold the insecurities and indecision. We try and customize our mates while too often failing to lift a finger on ourselves.
     The fact of the matter is, if you stick it out, you’ll find out. You’ll find a greater good in your spouse than you ever could’ve imagined. You’ll find a deeper brokenness than those little personality surface cracks would’ve ever lead you to believe. And guess what? They’ll see the same in you.
     So how do we make this thing work? Two imperfect people, madly in love and destined to discover the good and the bad, saying “I do” for a lifetime without really knowing what a lifetime will hold. On the outset, it sounds like a recipe for disaster, and oftentimes that’s just how it ends. So what do we build our marriages on if the woman or man we know today won’t be the same spouse we knew them to be in ten, twenty, fifty years?
     I firmly believe that building on the unchanging truths of faith is the only reason my marriage will be forever. I’m too fickle, too flighty, too selfish and too small to build a marriage on my love, my character, my dreams or my ideals. My husband? A million times moreover a man than I am a woman, but I’d say the same for him.
     In building on Jesus’s grace, we build on an unchanging, unshakeable foundation of love. This base is of paramount importance when two changing, shakeable, imperfect lovers vow to make a team for life. A marriage built on grace has room for growth, forgiveness, discovery and disappointment.
     Inevitably I have moments where I look more like the girl you shouldn’t date than the lady you’re glad you married. A mere six years into marriage and my husband has seen deeper into my strengths and my flaws than the woman he saw when he married me. I could say the same of him. We’d choose each other again in a heartbeat and our love makes my days sweet. But when I look at the years ahead and think of the test of time, I’m glad our marriage is built on something–Someone–bigger than our selves.