Marriage is hard! I wish it wasn’t, and often wonder why it has to be. After all, you fell in love with this person. When you dated, you sent love notes and willingly spent money on flowers and her favorite perfume, dinner out, etc. Then one day you looked into each other’s eyes and thought I need to be with this person for the rest of my life! They make me so happy! Then you said “I do” and things got hard. It’s so strange.
Oh, there is the “honeymoon period”. But I’ve talked to some couples that even found that adjustment hard. I often ask God, “Why should something that is supposed to be based on such positive things like love and commitment, passion and intimacy be so difficult?” Then God reminds me of my relationship with him, and how I tend to make that relationship so hard too.
I guess when I was young and “in love” I thought marriage was about my happiness. It was about having someone in my life who made me feel good about myself. There is only one problem with that–marriage shows me just how selfish to the core I can be. It also shows me how hard I am to please. The things my wife did for me yesterday to make me happy don’t necessarily light my fire today. It makes sense marriage is hard, because when you live with someone 24/7 it’s unlikely they can make you feel good about yourself 24/7. I realized that if I want to have a happy marriage and get the best out of this relationship, I may have to rethink the myth that marriage is for my happiness. I had to say it out loud: “I don’t believe God gave me marriage so I would be happy.” I’ve spent a lot of happy days in my marriage, but if that is my focus I will end up dissatisfied every time.
In Ephesians 5:25 we read, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Funny, but that verse says nothing about how marriage is for me and my happiness. It’s all about me giving myself up for another person. In that verse I believe I find the real purpose behind a happy (no, I’ve got to stop using that word), fulfilling marriage. Marriage was given to teach me how to sacrifice myself in some small way like Christ sacrificed himself for me.
Some days giving myself to my wife feels like nailing myself to the cross. It’s pathetic but it’s true. That is probably why Jesus said I had to pick my cross up and die to myself “daily”. Sacrifice was never meant to be easy. Jesus even asked the Father to remove his cup of sacrifice from him. Just yesterday I was reading about the horrible tragedy in Colorado at the premier of the Batman movie. The article described how three boyfriends lost their lives taking bullets to shield their girlfriends. Every day God gives me opportunities to sacrifice myself for my wife, to take a bullet for her so to speak. Opportunities to show her Christ lives in me, that because of his sacrifice for me I can do the same for her. But here is the problem: I’m usually so focused on how my needs are being met, I don’t even notice the bullets as they fly at my wife. I realized that it’s not marriage that’s hard, its sacrifice that is hard.
God said it’s when we lose our life that we find it, and there is no greater love than this, that you lay down your life for your friend (Matthew 10:39, John 15:13). I want to have a happy marriage so I’m going to start taking more bullets, laying down mylife, and sacrificing myself and my own needs. This just might work!