I’ve entered a season in my life where the “D” word among my married friends is now becoming common place. It is sad… and depressing. To see these beautiful couples, many with children, break their vows with each other and walk away from the life they’ve created.
Before you get on the defense with me, I know every situation is different.
I know you can throw in all the “buts” and excuses you want for things to justify why the marriage didn’t work out the way it was supposed to—why divorce was or is the best option. I absolutely DO NOT label people with a big scarlet “D” on their forehead, shaming them if this has happened to their relationship status. With this status change, there is always restoration which can be found. We are not to judge those that do experience failures in their marriages, regardless of the situations that have happened.
But just hear me out for a second, take a step back, and look at the aerial view with me. Let’s explore what marriage is really all about.
I mean why do people get married in the first place?
You fall madly and desperately in love with someone; which without them in your life every waking moment, it would feel like you’re lost. Like you’d be missing something—miss out on that great joy that you experienced with them over that picture perfect never-going-to-forget-it date. Your childlike excitement for this person is intoxicating, takes up your every waking moment. You feel like your heart could burst from the amount of love you feel for him or her.
So you get married! You say your vows, make promises—till death do you part. You frolic off into “never never land” and enjoy a honeymoon of intimate sensual enjoyment. It’s a paradise bliss of emotions at this time. The high you experience is like nothing else you’ve ever experienced with another person.
And then life happens.
You realize you have to be adults in this world and with that comes responsibility. You have a job, kids, house payments, health bills, and other outside factors that cause stress on the relationship. You start forgetting to look at your husband at the end of the day, forgetting to give him that genuine smile which shows you respect and love him for who he is. You are exhausted from your day. The children are throwing their dinner on the ground that took you oodles of time to make and you’ve decided if the clock doesn’t hurry up to bedtime hour for them soon you are going to explode! Your attention for each other starts to drift and become monotonous. You go to sleep with just a quick goodnight to each other (no energy for passionate intimacy right?) and you start the next day all over again… with the same lack-luster ending.
You’ve lost that excitement for each other. You feel like your love for each other is lost. And you feel like there is no way it can ever return.
Or maybe that’s nothing like your story.
Maybe you had a child out of wed-lock and decided that marriage was simply the next step. Or maybe marrying this person seemed convenient to you at the time because you felt like you were never going to get married if you didn’t marry him. Or maybe you married because you knew your parents approved of him SO much that you figured love would come later, once you got to know him better.
I don’t know what your story is. There are thousands of them.
Regardless, there is something unique about this huge decision of marriage that maybe you’ve never heard of? It’s a 7 letter word:
It’s called PROMISE.
It’s the promise that when things get tough, you will reach your hands out to each other and hold on tight. It’s the promise that when you feel like you’re drifting apart, that you will again reach out and hold onto that person you made a commitment to and keep loving them for who they are. It’s the promise that when you both experience sickness–in both mind, body and spirit—that you help each other through those dark times and keep pressing forward while holding hands through the darkness.
Marriage means PROMISE.
Yet, marriage has lost its meaning in this world. At least it seems that way to me. Looking on the outside in, I think many marriages could very well be salvaged with a bit of work. And not just salvaged, but become more beautiful than imagined! Like an antique that is now worth millions because it withstood the tests of time.
Marriage is about love right?
In the bible the Greek language has 4 different words for love.
- Eros—desire or longing. It is an erotic love, associated with sexual love. I found this quote about it: “God created physical attraction between a man & a woman, but He never intended for it to be selfish. He created desire and longing which makes up sexual love which is crucial in any marriage. This love was meant to be preserved between a couple and it is essential for any healthy marriage.”
- Philos—one you have for a companion or friend. It refers to loving one another just like you would love on a close friend.
- Storge—similar to philos, this is affectionate love, refers more closely to family; brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. The love we have for our family.
- Agape—unconditional love. In biblical terms, Jesus is expressed to exemplify this love to us and all mankind for his sacrifice on the cross. It is a sacrificial love. Another quote I found to be helpful: “Agape love should never be determined by our feelings; it is more of a set of behaviors or actions. With agape, you do not have to actually feel it for you to give it, which means that you can be able to show love without feeling anything at all. At times feelings can follow after showing this kind of love.”
Marriage is not just that happy warm feeling of love that you get in your belly. You don’t always have to “feel” that love for your spouse. Honesty, at times you won’t! There are many times in my life I haven’t “felt” that Eros love in my relationship with my husband. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to be running off to sign divorce papers. It is actually more like a wake-up call to myself to figure out why I am feeling distant from him? Why am I lacking in love for him? Then I explore these feelings further and try to find ways to fix it!
Marriage needs to contain all of these types of loves–eros, philos, storge, agape–for it to be balanced. To be healthy. But guess what? Marriage takes work.
People have a problem with passivity in marriage. I hear all the time that people just “fell out of love” with their spouse. They give up because they think the “grass will be greener on the other side.” From my knowledge and understanding, this is usually not the case. If you want to know something about love in marriage–it takes work.
It takes time and commitment to love on that person. It takes careful orchestration into knowing a person’s heart, how they love to BE loved. It takes effort to keep loving each other for 10, 20, 50 years! It is a process and journey that can be experienced in every marriage… if you’re ready to ride the waves.
After years of passivity you WILL drift apart. But the answer is not divorce. Your passivity will simply follow you and you will find yourself in the same situation again, but with someone else.
I think my biggest frustration with all of this are those marriages ending in divorce where I feel like they gave up too soon. That they didn’t give it 110% before deciding that it just wasn’t going to work for them. And REALLY try!! Not just try between themselves, but be honest and get outside help. Counselors, couples retreats, reading marriage books together, praying together, seeking the help of friends and family,…taking exhaustive time and effort to really try to make their marriage work! Because at one point you said your vows, you made those promises together, that through the thick and the thin, when times get tough and the relationship seems impossible, you would put in 110% towards restoring your marriage to something more beautiful than gold or rubies.
I feel like people are throwing in the towel a lot more easily these days. That people are celebrating divorce. Justifying it with such poor excuses that I really have a hard time having sympathy for them.
And maybe you are frustrated with me because I haven’t walked your shoes. I haven’t experienced what you’ve experienced. I don’t understand your feelings and what you’re going through so I couldn’t ever understand why you would decide to sign those papers.
But I’ve decided to error on the side of fighting for marriages. Through the thick and thin. Even through affairs and emotional abuse… because guess what!?
I believe people can change.
And to be honest, I’m not sure this change is something everyone can experience because it requires a great amount of sacrifice, forgiveness, and commitment.
It basically boils down to a change of the heart.
Which I believe the best change of heart can be found through Jesus. Through the truth of His word—the bible. Through hours of praying together for forgiveness. God can help change us for the better. He can restore a broken and cheated heart. He can mend the bruised and beaten in spirit. He can redeem those that seem too far gone to make new. He can restore our character to one anew with grace and dignity.
If we just allow Jesus into our hearts.
You see ladies, ultimately we are all longing for a knight in shining armor to come and sweep us off our feet! To love us forever and unconditionally. To bring us that sense of love and security that we all desperately desire. To fill our hearts with joy. To simply love us.
Jesus is the ultimate love story. He IS our knight in shining armor. He has already come and swept us off our feet! He loves us forever and will always love us unconditionally, perfectly, and completely. He will fill your heart with joy. He is perfect.
So even if we find the most perfect husband who exemplifies the love we are seeking, the security we long for, and the strength we are lacking… he is still human. He will make mistakes. But I choose to love him through these mistakes. Bestowing forgiveness instead of bitterness. Choosing to stay engaged in our marriage. Making it work no. matter. what.
However in order to love my husband best, I’m trying to engage placing my trust in the One who will not fail. One who loves me unconditionally, perfectly, and wholly. The One who knows my deepest innermost thoughts, my darkest struggles, my colloidal failures.
The One who is the ultimate redeemer of my heart—Jesus Christ.
Because I know that my love story with Him will always have a happy ending.
“Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7