It’s Not Always Hard
- February 19, 2016
- Holly Paulette
I’m sure they had the best of intentions. They saw two barely-adult kids, giddy with excitement and flaunting a diamond only large because it was an heirloom. He proposed on a Saturday night, and we each had classes to go to early that next Monday morning, in lecture halls packed with peers who spent their Saturday nights not pledging their forevers to another soul. We were young, madly in love, and a bit innocent. Nothing anyone could say could ever bring us off cloud nine, where we sat comfortably with our time filled with cake tastings and honeymoon planning and picking out wedding flowers.
So, when everyone began giving the same advice, we weren’t amused.
“Oh, wow! Good luck…marriage is really, really hard.”
My response was precious: “Yeah, I totally know. But we’re prepared! We went to a small group specifically designed for young couples and asked our pastor all the hard questions. We’re so ready.”
Nothing could have prepared us for our first few months of marriage. No tidbit of advice, no article on a reputable Christian website, no sermon on Ephesians 5 made us ready for two moves, our job security falling apart, and the picture-perfect newlywed bliss taking a sharp nosedive into struggle.
But you know what? Even in that…it wasn’t always hard. In fact, I dare say that, more often than not, it was good. So good. So fun. So full of joy, laughter, butterflies-in-my-stomach date nights, Netflix binges, pillow talks, inside jokes. Full of fights that end in a reconciliation that sanctified, miscommunication that forced us to grow in understanding and patience, and hard conversations that resulted in maturity.
And nearly three years in, it’s infinitely better.
Marriage is hard. There’s no doubt. But it’s a disservice to the covenant of marriage to leave it at that. When two become one, and when those two love each other with a love that looks like Christ’s, there better be joy.
Being my husband’s wife is an honor and a privilege.
He is selfless—he lets me eat his late night snacks, even when I told him I wasn’t hungry.
He is thoughtful—he sometimes makes coffee in the mornings and only forgets to take the trash out 40 percent of the time.
He is wise—he’s learned to give me a solid 15 minutes to wake up before speaking to me in the mornings.
He’s also the most handsome human being I’ve ever laid eyes on, his laugh is contagious, and his strong, calloused hands divulge his work ethic. He loves Jesus with a tenacity unmatched, and he knows my heart through and through. He fathers our foster son with tenderness, compassion, and sacrifice. He’s everything I never knew I needed, and I love him more than I ever thought possible.
I saw a post on social media the other day–a picture of a newly engaged couple. The future bride wrote, “I can’t wait for sleepovers every night with my best friend!” It was cute. So very, very naïve. But cute.
Girl, if those dreamy sleepovers entail silently laying next to each other wearing mouth guards and reading your respective novels and most definitely not donning honeymoon pajamas, then your expectations are right on point.
But those nights—when our retainer lisps are in full force—are the highlights of my days. Even in silence, the fact that I simply get to lie beside the man who God destined for me is a complete and utter joy that I don’t want to take for granted.
Yes—marriage brings out our worst, but it has also brought out the very best in both of us. When we said, “I do,” we vowed to love each other through inevitable flaws. That unconditional love mirrors Jesus, and, for that, we are the best versions of ourselves in this role that God has given us.
I say none of this to undermine the very real marital troubles that some have. I’ve written about ours in length before, and we fight hard and often. But it’s those trials that make the joyful days all the brighter. Because we know the depths of each other’s souls, we know both the pains and the triumphs. Oh, what an honor it is to be married, even as our flesh combats that blessing.
I remember smiling at the thought of sharing a tube of toothpaste with Morgan. The thought of it represented how even the littlest parts of our lives were joining as one. And then I learned that he couldn’t use the toothpaste I like to use because of some weird dental condition he’s got, and that’s just the perfect metaphor for how expectations on marriage can really screw you up.
But those expectations can go two ways. Assume rainbows and butterflies, and you’ll be surprised by downpours and moths. Prepare for the hardships, and your good days will be so good.
It’s not always hard. Most of the time, it’s actually really, really great.
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