We married young. Twenty-one and twenty-two at the time of our vows. We were all in, committed with our whole selves, and somehow completely ignorant of what marriage would really look like on the other side of the celebration. To be fair, even our first bumpy years were pretty enjoyable all-in-all, but they were not without conflict. Our most dramatic and ridiculous argument to date was over a chicken nugget and who would get to eat it. So petty. But we were in that messy place of bringing all of our broken selves to the table, and figuring out how to connect across our miles of differences, longing to be loved, and learning how to speak a whole new language.
It’s a miracle, if you think about it…that two unique individuals are able to sync up and travel together through life with any sense of cohesion or shared vision. We are so different in so many ways, sometimes I laugh about what an odd pair we are. And yet, the shoe fits in a mysterious way that only God could orchestrate.
On the front end of marriage, I thought I knew a lot about what makes a marriage work. Nearing ten years in, I think the answer to that is a bit more simple than I originally thought. That’s not to say that relationships are not complicated. They are. But at the bedrock of a healthy marriage is a foundation of grace for one another. Find a couple who strives to give grace to one another at every turn, and you will find a couple whose love is growing by the minute. The reality is, the person you have married or will marry will be flawed, broken in their own ways, and not able to live up to the knight-in-shining-armor image at every moment. If there is no grace, within time, there will also be no love.
There are high-highs and low-lows. Stresses and heartaches and curveballs and grumpy attitudes. There is no hiding all of the ways that we are not lovely…not from a spouse. Spouses see what very few others do, including the good, the bad, and the really ugly.
Married about 1.5 years and with our first sweet baby…now 8 years old.
My husband’s love for me baffles me. The man is a gracious man when it comes to loving his wife. I have been the slow-to-learn part of this equation, and I doubt that I could recall all of the ways he has extended grace to me over the years. What I do know, is it is the very grace which he extends to me is what compels me to love more selflessly; to respond with grace myself, which has not always come easy.
I think grace in marriage has everything to do with tenderness. The way we talk to each other matters. It is easy to criticize. It is easy to railroad over the other person’s feelings. When we take the time to really listen and be tender with our words, there is a sweetness to be discovered that does not disappoint.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs 15:1 NLT
“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. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
If you’re interested in a thoughtful theological exploration of marriage, feel free to watch the last two sermons from Eastlake Church, titled “Becoming One” with Dan Allender. I’m told a third installment in this series will be added to the website this week, and I’ll be watching! I appreciated many of the thoughts shared in both the talks from 8/31/14 and 9/7/14. In both videos, the message begins around the 15 1/2 minute mark and last about 35 minutes. These will likely only be available to view for about the next 3-4 weeks.