We’ve attended countless weddings over the last few years. Some were dear friends, others family, a few just acquaintances. There’s always an opportunity to share your advice whether it be in conversation or a card. Every single time I write this: You’re better together. Fight for it, never forget it.
That’s the best I have. Matt and I have been together nearly seven years, married for four, and the one thing I’ve found to remain the same is that two people wake up every day and decide to keep going. We didn’t understand it at first. How could you? Life is full of bliss and romance. But that wears off after you’ve picked up his underwear from the bathroom floor 138 times. (To be fair, he has cleaned countless globs of hair out of the shower drain).
Year one was fun. Year two was hard. Year three was full of growth and understanding. Year four was a whole new ballgame (hello, Daphne). I’m sure I’ll look back at this in 10 years and laugh. But God continues to see us through with patience and unfathomable grace.
I love everything Tim Keller has to say about marriage. Please read “The Meaning of Marriage” if you haven’t yet. Here’s one of my favorite takeaways:
“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us.”
It transforms us. Just as our relationship with Christ, our relationship with our spouse should set us in pursuit of good works. Not because we are good but because someone loves us in spite of our not being good. When your spouse hurts you, don’t be surprised. Don’t try to get even. He’s flawed just as you are. The most transformative response you can offer is grace. Grace upon grace, to be exact (John 1:16)
I don’t always do this well. It’s difficult to offer grace when you’re mad or hurt. That’s not my go-to response. But we’ve set a standard for one another and expect better. We hold each other accountable. And when times are great, we make sure to still press in on the work to be done.
Our relationship with Christ is not even close to fair. It’s the opposite. He not only bore our shame but did so before we even cared. He loves us so fiercely. Can we not just muster up a fraction of that sacrificial love for our spouse?
When we want to get on Instagram instead of having a conversation, or would rather skip a morning prayer together for 15 more minutes of sleep… I’m reminded that this isn’t supposed to be easy. It requires sacrifice.
We’re imperfect and flawed and in desperate need of grace. We’re better together because we see God more clearly when we offer mercy. And marriage takes mercy.
The work of being together is nothing compared to the redeeming work it took to save us. As Keller reminds us, it’s painful and wonderful all at once. That tension has transformed the way I approach every relationship, especially that with my husband. This week marks four years since our vows and although life is hilariously different than I imagined, it’s sweeter all the same.