So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
When he first pops the question and you get your ring, everything is all about that white dress and what shoes you’ll wear, and should you get a tiara or a veil, or just do your hair, and nothing seems more exciting than marrying that special man in your life. Absolutely nothing. You will get to spend the rest of your life with someone you love, who loves you, and everything is fairy-tale perfect. You get to be a princess for a day, and its like the Cinderella story, but skip over the step-sisters and losing the Prince, and go straight to the Happily Ever After from the ball.
It’s magical, and wonderful, and glorious, and other than losing tons of weight right before the wedding due to stress, which causes your perfectly fitted dress to be not-so-perfectly fitted (ahem, this isn’t personal experience or anything), you’re perfectly overjoyed to get in the getaway car and drive away with your new hubby.
And then you get home. It’s been about a week, and the honeymoon is done. And you quickly realize that he’s not that list of all the things you love about him. The man you married is, gasp, a human being. He has flaws and he doesn’t always love you the right way. He doesn’t communicate emotions well (and neither do you). He’s a man with a man’s desires and outlook on the world, but also desires and an outlook that’s unique to him, so you can’t just put him in a box labelled “The Mind of Men” and call it good. And you’re a woman with a woman’s outlook and desires, and you want different things than he does, but neither of you knows how to say it because you haven’t learned to yet. And just as he doesn’t always love you perfectly, you struggle to respect him perfectly.
Marriage is hard.
And suddenly you realize what everyone really meant when they told you, “He’ll do things you don’t like.” “He’ll irritate you.” “You will fight.” “You won’t always get along.” “Marriage is sanctifying for both of you.” And your response in your head was something like: “Yeah, but it can’t be that hard.”
And you realize that you both married strangers. No matter how long you’ve known each other, how long you’ve dated, there will always be things about your new spouse that you didn’t know. Things that irk you, rub you the wrong way, or hurt you because you both have different brains that work beautifully and uniquely and are different.
And you wonder, how do I do this thing?
Marriage really is sanctifying. Learning how to be a husband or wife is hard. Because it requires you to take a look at yourself and realize how sinful you are. Marriage brings out sin you didn’t even know you had, and sin that you may not have known that your spouse has. Marriage is hard, particularly in a culture that tells you that when you’re not happy you should just give up; a culture that tells young people to stay kids as long as possible, resulting in this generation’s problem of “kidults,” fully mature human beings who still act like they are 16 at age 26, 27, 30; a culture that tells you not to do anything that makes you unhappy, and do anything that makes you even remotely feel good; that tells you not to do anything that might cause you to have to sacrifice your own needs, wants, and desires unless you get something better out of it; a culture that says you don’t need to make anybody feel good except yourself. And then this same culture wonders why its adults can’t grow up, why they are selfish, and why they feel so entitled, why they suck as parents.
Marriage is counter-cultural. It is counter-cultural first and foremost because it is a picture of the Gospel, and the Gospel is as counter-cultural as you can get. But also, because it forces you to be the opposite of all of the aforementioned things if you want it to work. It makes you grow up, it makes you selfless, and it teaches you that other people will not always make you happy, but loving them anyway is worth it. A long-lasting marriage that defies all odds and stays together due to Christ-centeredness is something rarely seen or heard of anymore. So, know that when you get married, as a Christian, you will be going against the grain. You will be different. People will tell you so, they will talk about you, they will think you’re weird. They will act like your lifestyle is somehow inferior because you chose to sacrifice your independence and on the altar of love, to become dependent, to become one with someone else, fusing two souls. Marriage is one person laying down their life for another.
But isn’t that just the picture of the Gospel that marriage is supposed to portray?