Choose to engage
Let’s be honest, relationships are work.
So it should not be a surprise to us that marriage is work.
Sometimes that work looks like sharing a bottle of wine late into the evening. Sometimes it looks like setting aside a date night and putting on lipstick. Sometimes the work is getting up at 6am to pick up some Gatorade and driving your husband 10 miles away for a run, parking the car and walking two miles home in the rain (yeah that really happened – it was work – and no I’m not harboring any feelings about it ;). On the flip, sometimes it looks like entertaining a houseful of exchange students for the weekend because your wife is slightly insane. See, it balances out.
All of those sacrifices are expected, but I think the most intense work of marriage isn’t the physical sacrifice or allotted time. It isn’t even putting someone else before yourself. The real work is admitting failure and defeat with vulnerability. The real work is saying I’m sorry when I really don’t want to. It is sitting in self-reflection to acknowledge my part of the argument. It is choosing to believe he is FOR me even when I can’t feel it. It is allowing him to acknowledge his faults and meeting him with compassion. It is trusting that God called both of us to this marriage and it is for our continued refinement (1 Pet 1:7) and joy we get to participate in it. The vulnerability of marriage is way harder than biting my lip when I want to complain about doing the dishes again – and we all know that is hard too.
It is easy to categorize the marriages we see as good or bad, but really there are just two categories: engaging or not engaging. Those that engage in their marriage are standing in the gaps for one another, having hard conversations, bringing hurts and defeat to God daily, working on the discord, and then choosing to stand together. All marriages that are engaging will have challenges – that is normal and healthy. Don’t fall for the lie that comes in the night that your marriage is not good enough, or that it cannot change.
Those that aren’t engaging may have an amazing Instagram reel or hold hands when they walk down the street, but those things don’t create a healthy marriage. Even if it is scary, choose to engage. Choose to be willing to have hard conversations. Be willing to disagree. Be willing to say I’m sorry. Be willing to trust. Be willing to speak out loud your dreams. Be willing to ask hard questions.
Be willing to have an imperfect marriage, but also one that is striving to reflect God’s grace.
“For you have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined…We went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.” (Psalm 66:10-12.)