For most of us – as our time of quarantine wears on – our home projects are getting more elaborate, our binge watching has been reduced to 1950’s-era nature documentaries and our children have been written out of our will. It has been a time of unexpected change, unexpected fun and unexpected stress.
One of the areas we have experienced stress in has been our marriages. Being alone together – nonstop – has its advantages, but it also provides endless opportunities to get on each other’s nerves.
MARRIAGE IS HARD
Just as the diamond of an engagement ring’s flaws, discoloration and imperfections are magnified by a jeweler’s microscope – so to our experience of quarantine has magnified the flaws, inadequacies and imperfections of our marriages. The temptation in those moments of increased awareness can be to define the value of our marriages by its flaws; to feel like everything about it is broken or at least not what it should be. Sometimes too, the collective hurt of past wounds add up over time and create a cumulative frustration that can boil over in isolation.
Honestly, it’s pretty easy to find yourself there, isn’t it? If you’ve been married for any length of time, you have noticed things about your spouse that well, annoy you. I mean, let’s face it, all of us have aspects of who we are that range from quirky to irresponsible or even hurtful. We all have areas of our lives we aren’t proud of, areas we fall down in again and again – I know I sure do. This is why marriage is hard anytime, but especially in close quarters.
Sometimes, we are tempted to compare our marriages to the relationships we see on TV or read about. We know it’s a terrible idea, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. The relationships we see on screen are almost always about two people falling in love, not two people living out of their love. Those two ideas are as different as a wedding is from a marriage. How silly would it be to expect every day of our marriage to be like our wedding? Probably about as silly as expecting it to look like it did when we were falling in love.
LOVE IS PATIENT, LOVE IS KIND
Marriage at its heart is a journey from romantic idealism to real love. Real love is radically different. Real love flows out of trust, shared struggles, common faith and real-world devotion. It’s hard won, its foundation goes deep – it overcomes, it forgives, it hopes in all things. This is how Paul talks about it in 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV
JOIN THE CHAPEL FOR AN ONLINE MARRIAGE CONFERENCE
If the past few weeks have been a tougher ride than you expected maritally, or if you simply need a jump start – I would invite you to join Tammy and I in an online marriage conference put on by Holy Trinity Brompton, a church in London we have grown to love. It’s going to be awesome, and it’s free!
HTB is asking for a donation, but The Chapel has already made a substantial contribution of behalf of all of you that would like to participate – so enjoy it at no cost.
My prayer for our marriages is that we could grow to see each other as we are, flaws and all, and deeply and truly love each other in spite of those things. May God bless our marriages and help us to move past our inadequacies into the boundless grace of real love.