“Umm, is this what marriage is supposed to be like?”
A question I’ve asked myself often. Especially, now that my husband and I have started a family.
You see, despite my good intentions, my marriage, doesn’t always line up with the vision I sold myself on. You know, the white dress, followed by a lovely honeymoon and then a lifetime of meaningful conversations over Saturday morning coffee, the joy of the family we start and the picture-perfect moments that capture the love we have for one another.
That’s what I’m talking about!
So, I’d like to think that I’m a realist. Therefore, I figured there would be some tiffs, here and there, some disagreements, trials, etc. But I anticipated the highlights way more! Moments filled with laughter, fun and great memories. Obviously, those things were much easier to anticipate as a new bride (and way more fun!). Okay, so maybe I’m more of an optimist – ha! But either way, I had always heard that marriage is hard and I kept that little nugget of knowledge in my back pocket.
However, I soon realized, I had NO IDEA how hard it really is.
When things started getting bumpy, I dove into research mode. I don’t know that anyone has the exact formula for a successful marriage, just like I think a “successful” marriage probably looks different for most people. However, as a Christian, I rely heavily on the Biblical view and resources that directed me accordingly. What I found was life changing. By life changing, I mean that in the most literal sense possible. You see, I had no clue how powerful a strong marriage was: for me, my family, for my children and, even, the world. A strong marriage has HUGE impacts and it is WORTH fighting for. So let’s dive in!
First, the facts. I love facts!
The American Psychological Association shares this around marriage and divorce.
Healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems. However, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.
What does this mean? Well, Fathers.com is an organization that educates families and society on the importance of the intact family. Here is an excerpt from an article called The Extent of Fatherlessness:
“More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father… If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.”
As we reflect on the most vulnerable of our society, our children, we have to acknowledge what the massive breakdown of our families is exposing them to.
- A lack of education
- Teen pregnancy (thus lending to a higher abortion rate, further hurting the vulnerable in the womb)
- Mental and behavioral disorders
- Homelessness and runaway
- Increased crime
- More likely to experience physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse
- Substance and alcohol abuse
Read more about that here:
For a more in depth look at the issue of fatherlessness, check out the Irreplaceable Documentary. Here is a clip of an interview with creator, Tim Sisarich. Very insightful.
Let’s take a step back.
This post isn’t meant to condemn the decisions that have already been made, but to act as a resource of encouragement. Obviously, this isn’t endorsing situations that are not safe. This is for that woman who is fed up, beyond frustrated, hurt, confused, ready to prove she can make it on her own, and ready to give up.
Look, I’ve been there before and I’m not saying I’ll never be there again.
But, I want to offer some resources that really changed my position, and, I’ll be so bold to say, saved my marriage. You see, preparation of the mind and heart for the marathon of marriage is not taught by mainstream education or culture. Quite the opposite, in fact. I really believe these will continue to be the resources I fall back on when my marriage struggles.
As a disclaimer, each of these are full programs that you can study. However, I found a lot of free resources on YouTube, Podcasts and the creators’ websites. I encourage you to jot these resources down in your journal or planner and take a serious look at each one. For me, each of these resources provided critical angels of information that I was lacking in my marriage.
Here are my top 3 marriage game changers.
Marriage Game Changer #1: Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
This is a long clip on YouTube – around 45 minutes. However, try to make time to watch this (getting ready in the morning, on your commute, during your exercising, whatever works). Emerson unveils the two secret ingredients of marriage: love and respect. He dives into the different needs of women and men. Women are naturally inclined to need love and men need respect. Although this sounds like a simple concept, Emerson is able to explain how it deeply complicates how we give and receive communication in all situations. Understanding these differences really helps me understand where my husband is coming from when he’s looking through his “blue glasses” and I’m looking through my “pink glasses”. Also, I really enjoy his podcast, which he performs with his son, who is a psychologist. This is a great series to go through!
Marriage Game Changer #2: 5 Biblical Purposes for your Marriage by Rick Warren
“Marriage isn’t to make you happy, it’s to make you holy.”
This is the new slogan of my marriage. What a great reminder. This isn’t to say marriage can’t be filled with joy but, there is such a misconception that marriage is all about your happiness and it’s not! In this resource, Rick shares the 5 biblical purposes of marriage: to provide dynamic companionship between men and women, to add to God’s family through children, the protection of children, the perfection of our character, and the construction of society. I LOVE the YouTube clip below. It, first, has a message delivered by Rick, and then a full sit down with Rick AND his wife. It’s great. To hear about their struggles really let me know that we aren’t alone in this journey.
Marriage Game Changer #3: Submitting to your husband by Joyce Meyer.
Now, before you click off (haha)….just know, this was the WORST thing EVER for me. In this YouTube clip, you’ll watch Joyce have her meltdown. I had a very similar experience: dramatically falling down, holding onto anything to keep from moving forward to the inevitable solution of submission and respect towards my husband – yuck! Here’s the thing on this topic, This is not one sided (meaning there is responsibility on both ends) and Joyce will go into that. But, my BIGGEST take away is to know what is worth fighting for. For me, I’m a clean freak. My husband has, more than once, gotten the wrath because there were finger prints on the stainless steal…so I had to learn what is worth fighting for: my marriage or an uninterrupted pattern of clean??? This is good!
Joyce talks about some versus that HIT HOME, such as, “A contentious woman is like a dripping faucet.” -Proverbs 27:15. Did you know that we have the power to build up or tear down our husbands? We have to use the power wisely. You know why? Because you depend on it. Your children depend on it. Trust me, when I say, this does not mean you couldn’t do it on your own. This is saying, you choose to trust in the power of marriage to give you, your husband AND your children a better life by embracing the process of marriage.
In any conversation I have about marriage, I hear the same thing, “It’s never going to be perfect.” But, you know what? That’s okay. Because neither of us are perfect. But, we are both loved by a perfect God and a God who will be with us every step of the way if we invite him into our marriage. I encourage you, today, start praying about your marriage. Start thanking God for the strength that marriage gives, the protection it provides for your children and the positive impact it has in our community. You are strong and, remember, YOU are a lady well-loved.
photo credit to artists from Unsplash.com