Love Does not Keep a Marriage Together

Love does not keep a marriage together.  I know that is what we all want to believe. We want to believe in the happy every after and the fairytale endings. But fairytales don’t tell the rest of the story.  Marriage is hard.

What right do I have to talk about marriage? I am not a marriage counselor. I am married, but I have not been married long, only six years. That is not a long time in the large scheme of life. We work hard to make our marriage stronger every day, but as in all marriages, some days we have more conflict than other days. Some days we try harder than other days. We love each other, though there are many days where we really don’t appreciate each others’ actions. There are times we are rude to each other and say things that we do not mean. I don’t say all this to berate marriage or bash my husband (it is a two way street), but I only want to be real with you, and this is the honest truth. I love my husband with all my heart, but that is not the reason I stay married to him.

I challenge anybody who says their marriage has been easy the entire time they have been married. They are lying. They are either lying to themselves or they are lying to you.

Don’t get me wrong, marriage has many good merits. I don’t mean to discourage anybody thinking about getting married. I do mean for you to think, to think long and hard why you want to get married and why you want to marry the person you want to marry. I want you to talk to each other and know that your opinions will probably change and that you will not always agree and you will probably forget to talk about the things you should talk about before you get married and during marriage.

This is not a lesson in how to make your marriage work or a check list of what to do before you get married. This is just the truth.

Lately, this subject has been on my heart. This season of young children has not been an easy one for my husband and I. We find ourselves, at times, disagreeing more than agreeing and we often find ourselves blaming each other instead of encouraging each other. Maybe this subject has been on my heart because I know of several newly married and young married people getting a divorce or talking about divorce. I know of some marriages that I thought were strong that are faltering and are on the brink of breaking up. I know of many women scorned and hardened and bitter about their previous marriage(s), and probably justly so.  It makes me sad; my heart breaks for them.

That brings me back to the point.

Love will not keep your marriage together.

It takes much much more than love. Marriage takes commitment, sacrifice, perseverance, and hard work. Lots of it!  You have to choose to work through your conflict and make your marriage work! Don’t compare your marriage to others and don’t pretend to be something you are not.  In this world of social media, all we see are glimpses of the good and the happy in people’s lives. Rarely do you see the whole picture.  A picture is not always worth a thousand words. Have you ever taken a picture and right before you snapped the picture,you were all fighting or the toddler was screaming or the teenager was sulking? Or have you ever been in a feud with your husband, then walked into church and put on the happy church mask?  People rarely take pictures of their kid in a tantrum or their husband with the other woman. They don’t usually take pictures of their house with laundry piles everywhere. I’m not saying we should post these things, and I’m especially not saying to get on social media or with your friends and bash your husbands or wives and hash out your spouse’s latest failings.  That is neither healthy, nor productive. I’ve heard of these said groups, and while I don’t try to be fake on my social media accounts, I do try to be real and positive. The world or your mother or your sister do not need to hear about your latest argument or the latest thing your spouse did to wrong you. I’m not saying to never discuss these situations with a trusted friend or mentor. However, I do believe that those moments should mostly be between you, your spouse, God and a licensed therapist, if necessary.

Yes, marriage is hard. It takes sacrifice and a whole lot of sweat!  You may wonder, why am I saying all this?  Haven’t I talked about how sweet and helpful my husband has been?  Yes, and he is, much of the time. But many times, he is not. Many times he fails me and yes, many times, more than I can count, I fail him. But you know what? We choose to stay together. We choose to work on our conflict and work on our marriage.  We both acknowledge that we are not perfect (most of the time). As stated before, I do not want to berate marriage or my husband, I just want people to know the truth, the real genuine truth.

Your husband is probably not going to pick up his shoes; your wife may never put your clothes away and they may constantly be wrinkled. Your husband may withdraw when he gets home from work or spend more time then you like in front of electronics. Your wife may insult your parenting skills.  Your husband will probably forget to pick up the milk. Your wife will probably bust your budget.

But marriage is from God, and only good comes from God.

“Have you not heard that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19: 4-6

Marriage is good. Marriage allows for unconditional love by choice. Marriage opens your heart and mind to other perspectives and other ways of doing things. Marriage is someone who is there for you when a loved one dies or when you are laid off or your dreams are crushed or your children go astray. Marriage is someone who supports you and stands up for you. Marriage is waking up to the same person everyday with morning breath and morning gas, and disheveled hair and no make up. Marriage is the man or woman cleaning up vomit on the carpet at two am. It is all these things and more.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

Do you ever wonder why there are so many comparisons to marriage in the Bible?  God knows we need someone to slap us in the face sometimes (not literally). He knows we need unconditional love and great mercy. Oh the mercy we need, daily.  Perhaps God meant to show a glimpse of his unbounding merciful love and sacrifice for us. That he will love us no matter how much we argue with him, no matter that we fail daily. He sacrificed his Son. There is no greater love than that.  To lay down your life.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38-39

You know what else, Satan does not want your marriage to succeed.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spirituals forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6: 11-12

For if your marriage succeeds, then it is a testament to the one true living God. A testament that there is a God and he is powerful and merciful and just. God will see you through all that the devil throws at you!  When you feel your marriage is failing, please don’t give up;  keep praying and trying. For it is more than love that will see you through.

Prayer:

Oh, God,

Hear our prayers. Know we are sinners daily and we need your mercy daily. Teach us to love unconditionally like you and to practice great mercy daily. Be with our marriages and keep Satan out of them.  Amen

What are some ways that God has sustained your marriage?

 

Thank you for reading! Please share with those who might be struggling!

If That Isn’t Love

I wanted to share the following excerpt from one of my favorite daily devotional books. This is from “Grace for the Moment”, by Max Lucado.  (http://maxlucado.com/)

“You Were in His Prayers”

“The final prayer of Jesus was about you. His final pain was for you. His final passion was for you. Before he went to the cross, Jesus went to the garden. And when he spoke with his Father, you were in his prayers…

And God couldn’t turn his back on you. He couldn’t because he saw you, and one look at you was all it took to convince him. Right there in the middle of a world which isn’t fair. He saw you cast into a river of life you didn’t request. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body which gets sick and a heart which grows weak…

On the eve of the cross, Jesus made his decision. He would rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you. 

If that isn’t love then I don’t know what is!  I hope you enjoy your weekend loving your family and friends! Thanks for reading!

I will leave you with a link to one of my favorite gospel songs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jltKwX6ifzQ

WHY I HAVE TO PRAY TO SURVIVE PARENTING

Here my toddler lies on the floor right before the classic tantrum position. (I didn't get a picture of that)
Here my toddler lies on the floor right before the classic tantrum position. (I didn’t get a picture of that)

I honestly do not know how people parent without having a nervous breakdown if they don’t pray. For me, the task of parenting is so daunting and overwhelming, I have to pray, for fear of completely messing up my child. I’m not saying I pray everyday ( I am a work in progress), But sometimes, make that all the time, I feel like I have to pray to make it through my day, even if it is a simple ” Please God help me not kill my child today”. When I really start to think about what it means to be a parent, it truly does overwhelm me. I am completely responsible for this little being that God allowed me to bring into this world. If she becomes a burden on society or a blessing to society, it all comes back to the parents. I worry I don’t play with her enough, that I don’t let her play by herself enough. I don’t read enough, too many toys, not enough. The list goes on and on as I am sure many of you can relate. Then there is this task of  teaching her about God!  I don’t know anything about God, how on earth am I supposed to teach someone about God?! And you love these little beings so much, that it literally hurts.

I  start thinking about God and Jesus, father and son, and how Jesus was sacrificed for me and thus completely separated from his father. I don’t know if I could ever do that. I could sacrifice myself for my child, but to have my child die for others is unspeakable,. It is unfathomable. I guess that is where the necessity of the cross comes in to play, for my sinful heart. I have to pray, for fear that I will be swallowed up by my anxiety and panic. It calms me, and reminds me that I cannot control everything, that I have to trust God.  For however much you love your child, God loves them more. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  John 10:10 states, “That they (we) may have life and have it abundantly.”

Isn’t’ that just it?, That we may have life and live it to the fullest? We don’t have to worry! God is enough!. There are so many different schools of thoughts on every topic, from breastfeeding to free range parents, to helicopter parents. You name it, you can find a book on it. (trust me, I have looked. ) Those things are of course important and I definitely have opinions on all the above.  But the thing I feel is most important is that we teach our children what it means to be loved and what it means to love. To love without condition. That in and of itself would be an anxiety producing task, if it wasn’t for our heavenly father being the perfect example.  “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

One of my favorite stories to read to my child is “God Gave Us You”, by Lisa Tawn Bergren. It is a beautiful story about how this bear cub was a gift from God. It reads:

” Every night, I prayed for you, my special child, I prayed that your bones would be straight and your heart would be strong. But most of all, I prayed that someday you would love God.” “I love God,” Little cub said proudly. “I know,” said Mama. “I do too.”. Mama lowered her voice. “And then we took you home. And it was just us. Our family. We just stared and stared, wondering at the miracle of incredible you.” “Because why?” “Because God had given us you. Then little Cub asks “Did you ever want a different baby?… “Never,” Mama said. “Never, ever, ever. Your papa and I wouldn’t trade you for the world….Because God gave us you. Because God gave us you”

The first time I ever read that story I had to hold back my tears to finish the story. Even now. two years later, I still have to hold my tears back. Perhaps that is how God feels; he has to hold his tears in check, because he chose us. Chose us to love , so much so that he was willing to give his only son to be sin for us. “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Imagine if your child was taken to prison and given the death penalty, for a crime he or she did not commit. I would be in anguish, infuriated!! Perhaps that is a  sliver of what God went through, except Jesus received the death penalty for thousands and thousands of crimes he did not commit.

I am no expert on parenting or things of God, but my prayer for you is the same as my prayer for my family:

Dear Father,

Please help us show your love to our children, in all our words and actions. When we make mistakes, turn our mourning into gladness, for you are merciful and good.

Amen

Matthew 5:16 (ESV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.