After 30 Years of Marriage I’ve Learned. . .
This afternoon a young man and woman will get married.
They’ll join their lives, as the old words say, for better or worse.
It’ll be some of both; married life always is.
Having found a great dress on sale for their special day, I’m now contemplating the weightier issues of matrimony.
First, it has the power to show us who we really are.
It unmasks, it peels back the outer layers, it lays bare the timbers of character.
At some point there’s no convenient hiding place, no ducking behind the furniture, or slinking behind the door. Sooner or later the real us shows up and says hello, or something much less friendly and civilized. We’ve been provoked by all that oneness, all that sharing of life. Which by that point we’ve all figured out means less of ‘my way’ in deference to the preferences of the one time object of our affection.
Too late, or maybe just at the right time, we discover that most frequently we ourselves are the object of our affection.
Second, marriage is both testing ground and factory floor for character.
It’s a crucible set over the flame that shows us the stuff we are made of. It’s a refinery for burning off the impurities and less than desirable components of our ‘all too human’ nature. You want to be a better person? Get married and stay married. Learn to give up having things your own way. Care about another the way you care about yourself. Let your spouse choose what to watch on TV, or where to go for pizza. It sounds trivial right?
But it’s not.
This is one of the hardest things most of us ever do in this life: learn to give up having our own way.
So yes, it’s much harder than this young couple can imagine it will be.
We women want the Fairy Tale
And the dress.
We want babies.
I know, it makes no sense to want to bring a totally selfish, demanding, and completely helpless individual into your life, but we do.
And we want our man to want that too.
What do I know of why men want to marry?
For pot roast? Beef stew? Sex? Filing jointly on tax returns? Someone to remind you of dental appointments?
Probably not those things or not in that order.
I’m just guessing here?????
Please help me out here guys and share the real deal in the comments section. . .
Third, good marriages require regular maintenance
My husband once shared with me a comment made by the groom’s father. They were at a Men’s Bible study and discussing Proverbs 27:15.
A continual dripping on a very rainy day
And a contentious woman are alike;
After a few typical jokes about nagging wives and dripping faucets our friend spoke up. He said he knew a thing or two about dripping faucets and one thing it always showed was a lack of proper maintenance. The other guys got quiet and he said, “I think a woman resorts to nagging because she knows she’s not been heard or responded to properly.”
There’s truth in that.
Not that I endorse or recommend nagging.
I tried it and it totally doesn’t work.
I suggest clarity, conciseness, and a disciplined lack of emotion when communicating about anything problematic in your marriage.
And Billy Graham’s wife Ruth always said a woman was never in a strong negotiating position with curlers in her hair.
Also, every woman should watch this scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
I remember another wedding we attended at the same beautiful venue where we’ll go later today.
The thing I recall most vividly is the thoughts shared by the father of the bride.
This was his advice to a couple beginning life together.
I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
Marriage is something two people build together.
It’s something they nurture with love or starve with neglect.
It can be a shelter or a storm front, a garden or a wasteland.
The vows are just words.
The ceremony just the public witness to the words.
Marriage is a sacred endeavor that shapes and molds two people into one.
What advice would you give to a young couple on their wedding day?
UPDATE: I just discovered this article called 12 Things Marriage Is and 12 Things It Isn’t