I love my husband. I have to say. By God’s grace I have been blessed with a husband who truly is my best friend, who loves the Lord, and who has always been so good to me. Perfect? Not even close. Perfect for me? Absolutely.
If I think back to before I was married and to the “perfect man” I dreamed of, he looks much different from the man God gave me.
An out-going social butterfly, at ease in any situation, on whose arm I could happily float around a room? No, my husband is quite content to sit in a corner alone and watch the action happening around him. He loves people, but not crowds.
A charmer who would make everyone he meets love him? No, he is not interested in making people think anything of him. He just is who he is.
A music lover who would make me mix tapes that declared his love for me, could play his guitar and sing me into a love-struck stupor? No, my husband only really loves country music, doesn’t play any instruments (ok, he played the trumpet in middle school and can play a few songs on the guitar), and can’t sing the right words to songs to save his life.
A hopeless romantic who would marvel at the perfection of our intertwined hands, lovingly brush my hair away from my face and look deeply into my eyes before kissing me passionately each and every day? Well, I will give him props for being romantic in some ways. He is great at planning romantic surprises or special events for me. But in the area of everyday romantic, affectionate gestures – oblivious!
Our culture of romanticism draws us into our happily ever after dreams of what relationship and marriage is “supposed” to be. We hear it from the time we are kids. My girls are Frozen crazy these days and we are listening to the music constantly. Now I realize this is not supposed to be reality, it IS a fairytale, but read these lyrics:
“Say goodbye to the pain of the past. We don’t have to feel it any more. Love is an open door. Life can be so much more. With you, Love is an open door.”
I really think this is what most of us think when we say “I do.” No more pain, my life is complete. Everything will be better now. But one only has to be married 5 minutes to know that this is just not true. In fact, usually the pain of the past reveals itself more strongly and with greater consequences in marriage. At least 50% of couples just walk away rather than having to feel it or plunge through it anymore, saying, “It was not ‘supposed’ to be this way. I am not happy anymore.”
Marriage is not easy. It simply is not always happy. We may even have days when we truly dislike the person we have vowed to love and cherish. “We can run from the challenges of marriage…or we can admit that every marriage presents these challenges and asks us to address them head-on. If we find that the same kinds of challenges face every marriage, we might assume that God designed a purpose in this challenge that transcends something as illusory as happiness (Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas).”
I believe that each one of us is on a journey, specifically designed by our Creator God, to achieve the greatest level of intimacy with Him, glory for Him, and good for us. For one that journey may mean singleness, for another marriage, for some childlessness, for others lots of kids, for yet another adoption. Wherever we live, work, or serve, all our joys and successes, and all our loss, suffering and pain is part of the journey. All of it meant ultimately for our good and God’s glory.
Do you know why my husband is actually perfect for me? Because in every way that my husband has not fulfilled my “dreams”, he has caused me to draw closer to the only One who was ever meant to fulfill my dreams. What if, indeed, the purpose of marriage is not to make me happy, but to make me holy (as Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas suggests)?
So, my husband is shy and introverted. His character has shown me the value of deep friendships. I don’t need to flit around crowded rooms making friends with everyone. He has shown me the great value of investing in people one-on-one.
So, my husband doesn’t value making great impressions on people. His character has served to expose the fake in me. The need to keep up appearances. The need to be liked and approved of. There is nothing superficial about him and I have come to appreciate that very much. In fact, one of the reasons I loved him in the first place was that he was real. He was deeply caring in a way that didn’t need grandiose demonstrations.
So, he doesn’t pull out the old guitar and woo me or lovingly gaze into my eyes each and every day. But now I realize that much of my need for woo-ing and affection stemmed from a deep need that I should have been turning to Jesus alone to fulfill. The healthiest marriages happen when two people are individually complete in Christ – not looking to the other person to complete them – so that they come together with the single goal of serving one another. When I look to Jesus to fill all the holes in me, validate me, and give me my identity, then I am free to love and serve my husband without the desperate need to receive from him. And the good news is, when he does the same he will also be able to serve me from a place of completeness in Christ.
Of course we should always work as couples to learn one another, to grow in intimacy, to improve our communication and conflict resolution skills. It is a grand partnership, worth cherishing and fighting for. And I thank God for giving me a partner who is perfect for me. For better or worse, for richer for poorer, in good times and bad, forsaking all others, we will press on to help one another know Him more.
Live Free. Lived Loved.