Marriage is Hard Work, But Good Work (#5 of 12)

12 Lessons In Marriage:  #5

If you’re smart and have done your homework, then after the limmerance bubble pops in your marriage you figure out that your expectations were impossible.  You realize that marriage was never meant to be the end-all… its just a living metaphor… to point us to the end-all.  You embrace this and you start building a more realistic marriage.  At a core level, you realize that your needs will only be met in Christ and - not denying your disappointment - you let it lead you toward a deeper and more immediately relevant experience of His provision.  You shortcut the anger and resentment, and - not denying your spouse’s weaknesses and failures - you offer them grace and forgiveness.  The demand that they come thru for you in some way dissipates and you come to experience some level of contentment.  

In like manner, you recognize that you could never really meet your spouse’s needs.  You come to peace with the idea that you are not responsible for their happiness or emotional fulfillment… you’re just a participant.  You get to give to them and care for them, but you are not responsible for them.  You recognize that you do, in fact, suck as a spouse.  But its OK because you know that there is grace and forgiveness for you - ultimately in Christ, but maybe from your spouse as well.  And instead of that making you lazy, you find that this grace really frees up the love and affection you have for your spouse.  You don’t need to avoid them and you lean in.  And when you do disappoint them, you don’t get defensive.  Instead, you feel compassion and empathy for them.  And, really, that’s all they wanted anyways - to know that they weren’t alone. 

So, you work hard and you begin building a more sustainable sense of connection and teamwork.  You figure out how to manage - maybe even enjoy - the strikingly different personalities, interests and values you bring into the marriage.  You learn how to work through conflict and disagreement.  Some of that earlier passion you had returns as the sense of security builds.  You hit a point where you genuinely believe that your spouse is connected to you and striving to care for your welfare - even when they can’t successfully do so.  Your first assumption is that they care and that they accept you for who you are… the good, the bad and the ugly.  You’re “one”.  

And then something changes…  maybe you have a kid… maybe you graduate a kid… maybe you get a new job… maybe you lose a job… maybe a parent or friend or sibling or child dies… maybe you move… maybe you realize that your sex life has become predictable… or maybe you’re not as happy in the marriage as you were before.  

But something will happen and it will disrupt what you’ve built.  Maybe it all blows up and you’re starting from scratch.  Or maybe it’s not so dramatic.  

Then you go back to work.  

Next: #6 Love is Passion (and Commitment)

Previous: #4 On Addiction and Infidelity

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