I’m super guilty of the, “If I could just ____, then I’d be happy” mindset. I hate that I do this, but I do.
If I could just graduate high school and move away, then I’ll be happy.
If I could just finish college and work, then I’ll be happy.
If I could just get more hours at this job so I can have more money, then I’ll be happy.
If I could just find a man, then I’ll be happy.
If I could just be engaged, then I’ll be happy.
If I could just get married, then I’ll be happy.
If I could just be a mom, then I’ll be happy.
The problem is, that’s not happiness, and that is not a way to spend your life. But I’m guilty of this, so, so, so guilty of this. But what happens when you check each of those things off? Then you’ll be happy? No, because the problem is that there’s always more to add. Always. Because if you are not content and joyful and happy where you are with what you have RIGHT NOW, you will never be. And it’s scary, to be in this mindset and knowing that you are setting yourself up to be disappointed and miserable for all of your life if you don’t snap out of it. And trust me, I’m preaching to myself more than anything.
The first 3 months of marriage were so easy, it’s funny. I remember hitting that 3 month mark and suddenly I realized that sometimes, just sometimes, my husband kinda bugged me. A lot. And things that he did bugged me. And things that he said hurt my feelings. Before marriage, I would not have called myself a sensitive person. But just like marriage does, it teaches you things about yourself that you wish weren’t true. I wish I wasn’t moody or irritable. I wish I didn’t care that I had to do the dishes for the millionth time. I wish I could communicate my feelings and thoughts better. I wish I was this, I wish I didn’t do that. It opens your eyes to everything you suck at, and I don’t like to suck at things. I don’t like to be in the wrong, or have to apologize. Am in the only one? No? Okay, good.
When you’re married, you have to apologize. You have to say that you were wrong sometimes. And honestly, for me and my marriage, my husband is probably right more than I am (don’t tell him that). Now, there are loads of times where he is in the wrong, but since I am super humble and the best wife ever, I let it slide. (Hint: sarcasm.)
Marriage got hard. It got scary. I realized things about myself that I didn’t like. I realized things about him that I didn’t like. But there we were, married for life. Some days were easy and blissful and just plain great. Other days, we were so irritated with each other that we would barely talk.
And I felt like there was something wrong with us. Because I used to look at people’s picture perfect social media marriages and get mad. I’d get mad because I didn’t think it was fair. I didn’t think it was fair because I thought, “How come their marriage is great and their husband is nice to them and mine sucks and I’m giving my husband the silent treatment because he hurt my feelings for the thousandth time?!? Why!?” (Because obviously, I was a child.)
I figured we had been through so much already that once we got to marriage, we would finally be okay. But really, we just brought all of that baggage and hurt and miscommunication into marriage with us. So what do you get when you have two broken, stubborn, prideful human beings and you add in trust issues, communication issues, job stress, school stress and life?
Well, I’ll tell you.
You get a mess.
You get a bunch of tearful nights and conversations and arguments and hurt. But you also get growth and maturity and a team. But I am telling you right now, still barely reaching the top of the pit, there cannot be growth unless you are at the bottom. Broken. Surrendered. And honestly, that is a very hard, humbling place to be.
Now, I know that sounds like a miserable mess. And it was, sometimes. But we were doing our best to love each other the best way we knew how. We learned from each other and we did grow together. We were (are) just a couple of kids. We were raised differently, had different viewpoints and thoughts and opinions. And we didn’t know how to do a lot of things very well, we both messed up a lot.
But there is forgiveness. And the ability to laugh things off. Sometimes, he frustrates me so much that I can’t stop laughing because of how annoyed I am and he thinks he’s being funny. And sometimes I am such a huge diva and a brat that I drive him absolutely insane. And that’s how you learn. No amount of marriage advice or “marriage is hard work” speeches can replace the real life moments of learning and figuring this whole thing out. He knows me better than anyone else and I know him better than anyone else ever could.
Honestly, there’s a naiveté that comes with getting married young, and I understand why older, wiser people tell you that you should wait a little bit. Because, like everyone says, it is hard. It’s hard to love each other like Jesus loves. Actually it feels downright impossible most days. But there is also a beautiful grace about marriage and young love that is unexplainable. You learn together, grow together, fight together, lean on each other and on Jesus, together. When you’re married, you’re a team. Even on the days you don’t want to be a team or you feel like neither one of you is being a team player. There’s a love that is there that is safe, because you both know that no matter how crappy things get, you are going to go through it together.
I have cried more tears in my 2 years of married life than I had ever cried in the 20 years of single life. Some of those have been happy tears, but most of those have been extremely upset and painful tears. But I know that every day that I wake up, I get to love and serve this man that God has given me. And if I lose sight of that, that’s when things get hard and messy. I am married to a son of God, who has feelings and thoughts and deserves to be treated and loved well. That is a huge responsibility to have, but I’ve been entrusted with his heart, and if I get too carried away with the dishes and the laundry and the hurt feelings and the irritations of the day, I’m not doing what God would have me do. And I don’t know about you, but if the Creator of the Universe entrusted me with something, I better do it – and do it to the best of my abilities.
To summarize: marriage is hard.
Marriage is about serving and showing the love of Jesus to your spouse. Unconditionally. Every day. And then when you fail at that – because we are not Jesus and we will fail – there is forgiveness and love and a new day tomorrow.
I want my husband to be able to look at me and say, “I see the love of Jesus pouring out of you in everything you do.” And I want God go be able to say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. I trusted you to nurture and care for him and his heart, and you have, and I am proud of you.”
How different we would live and act and treat one another if our goal was to hear those words, right? If our goal was really to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world, starting with our husband and family?
This article was originally posted by C.J. at A Garden For Ruins.