In some ways, I feel completely inadequate writing a post about when “for better” turns to “for worse.” Not because my marriage has always been easy and uncomplicated. My husband and I have had our share of difficulties in our just-shy-of-nine-year-old marriage.
Mostly, I feel inadequate because I’m going through a difficult time in my spiritual life. My faith is lukewarm at best and my heart longs for something that I can’t put into words.
To write a post for a blog called “Speaking in Faith” might not be a good fit for someone in my position.
However, I am thankful that even though I don’t feel faithful, God always is and his faithfulness doesn’t change. Even in the dredges, even in the muck and mire, my faith is what sustains me. It sustains me in the each breath I take. It sustains me when I’m a despicable human being. It sustains me when my marriage can’t be classified as “happily ever after.”
While most of us would say that we know the princess fairytale to be unattainable, we conversely admit that we wouldn’t mind being swept off our feet by a handsome prince and carried off into the sunset to live out the rest of our days in perfectly wedded bliss.
But fairytales don’t tell us what happens during happily ever after. We don’t get to experience the argument that ensues when Cinderella discovers that Prince Charming has been checking out the ladies in waiting. They never give us a peek at what happens when Prince Charming opens the credit card bill and discovers that Cinderella maxed out the card to pay for the designer drapes she just had to put up in the master suite.
The truth is that, just as in life, we are never promised a “happily ever after.” In fact, we’re promised to be mocked, scorned, and
ridiculed for our faith. We’re to expect suffering and sorrow, not because it’s a state of human affairs, but because we live in a fallen world.
Living in this world gives way to much heartache, including heartache in marriage. If you put two completely imperfect people into a
permanent relationship, there’s going to be some (or a lot) of friction. It’s going to be an imperfect marriage.
There are a lot of “for better” moments in marriage. I really do enjoy being married. There is an intimacy I have with my husband that
I don’t share with any other human on this planet. While we are two very different people, we are one person together. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a conversation without finishing sentences just because we know exactly what the other is thinking. I know that he loves me despite my imperfections. He knows that I’ll support the decisions he makes as the head of our home. We share inside jokes and have learned to resolve our differences in a loving manner. Some of the most important, beautiful, wonderful, incredible moments of my life have been shared with him.
Those moments make the “for worse” a little more bearable. I know that getting through those difficult times will lead to more of the “for
better” moments. It’s difficult to remember that in the midst of something that shakes the solid ground on which our marriage is built. Sometimes those things are self-inflicted: stubbornness, bitterness, anger, resentment, petty differences. Other times the “for worse” is something beyond our control: death, job layoff, financial difficulties, just to name a few. We never know the what, when, where, or why of a “for worse” situation, we can only be sure that we will endure them during marriage.
So, when we encounter a difficult time in marriage, what do we do?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a five-step plan for what to do when marriage isn’t as blissful as we want it to be.
Marriage is a choice. It’s a choice to say “I do.” It’s a choice to enjoy your spouse and the relationship to the fullest. It’s also a
choice to stick around when the going gets tough.
When hard times come you have to choose:
- whether you’ll crumble and fall apart or fall to your knees and pray.
- whether you’ll allow the struggle to place a wedge between you and your spouse or embrace your spouse in the midst of the
- whether you’ll believe what this world has to say about marriage or believe that God is indeed bigger than whatever it is
you’re facing, that he has overcome it, and will pull you both through it.
- whether you’ll try to fix whatever is wrong in the marriage with your own human hands or trust that the One who holds the sun,
moon, and stars in place is holding your marriage in his hands and is more than able to make whatever is wrong, right.
I’ll be honest, I’ve not always chosen correctly. I’ve let the lies of the world overwhelm me. I’ve pointed my finger. I’ve laid blame at
my husband’s feet. I’ve tried to fix things on my own. I haven’t believed the truth that God is bigger than our marriage issues.
But when I have (excuse the cliché) let go and let God, I’ve found that his plan of restoration, his refining work, his loving hands are much more perfect than anything I could have conjured up with my weak human logic.
When the going gets tough, pray. Pray for yourself. Pray for your spouse. Pray WITH your spouse. Rejoice in the suffering because we know
that “that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV).
It’s futile to attempt to solve marital woes with tools from a sinful world (including our own strength). God is marriage’s biggest
cheerleader. He created it. He sustains it. He gives us what we need to enjoy it. He’s not surprised when we face hardship in marriage.
God writes our stories much better than we can ourselves. If marriage is part of our story, we must believe that he’ll give us a much better
ending than any fairytale we could imagine for ourselves.
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I'm Christan: a daughter of God, friend of Christ, wife to Thomas, and mom to three precious little girls. Though I've worn many hats in my day, these are the ones that I wear the most in the wardrobe that is my life. I'm a chaotic, disorganized mess most of the time, but I'm okay with it. I rarely finish what I start, but I have faith that God will finish what he's started in me. Being real and honest is about as natural to me as breathing. It is my hope that my being open about my flaws will help others be more comfortable with theirs.