He stands at the front of the church in a rented tuxedo, breathlessly waiting for his blushing bride to walk down the aisle. As he stand there in shoes that pinch, the underwear he is wearing is the only clothing that belongs to him, and all he can think about is how happy they are going to be.
She stands in the foyer of the church, dressed in the prettiest wedding gown she could find. Her father grabs her by the elbow and says, “Are you ready, Honey?” She tearfully nods, and begins the walk down the aisle to her new life.
As the bridal march plays, he finally sees her in her dress. She is gorgeous!
Halfway down the aisle her eyes lock in on her husband to be. This is the moment she has been dreaming about her whole life.
Together they stand before the preacher and repeat their vows. The pastor says, “You may kiss the bride,” and the first married smooch begins. So much happiness, so much elation, so many dreams about the future together.
Two years later, they stare at each from opposite ends of the living room, trying to argue without waking up the baby. He looks at her, she looks at him, and they both think, “This is not the person I married…” Suddenly, the word divorce gets floated out there, and what was unthinkable on that special day now seems like a certainty.
Of course the person you are married to is the same person you dated, they just quit trying to win you over. They relaxed. When you were dating, the car door was way too heavy for her to get on her own. Now you just sit in the car and honk the horn so she will hurry up. When you were dating, you loved his quirky, cute habits. Now, they just annoy you and you want them to stop.
What happened? What is it that causes couples to argue?
In a word: selfishness. We think of marriage as a 50%-50% partnership. In reality, it is a 100%-100% sacrifice for both people.
There are three stages to marriage:
- Stage one is the honeymoon stage where everything seems perfect.
- Stage two is the reality stage where you realize things are not all peaches and cream.
- Stage three is the work it out stage where you say, “Let’s make a deal.”
Most marriages I have counseled with break up during stage two. The reality of life has intruded on the fantasy of marriage. Bills, kids, work, in-laws all conspire to break the happiness bubble of expectations the husband and wife had going in. The husband thought he was getting a non-stop sex and cooking partner, while the wife thought she was getting someone who would have long talks and feel her problems on a deep level. Both are disappointed in reality.
Really, marriage doesn’t begin to get really good until you enter the third stage. Once you have weathered the storms of stage two, you come out stronger, more determined, and better able to cope with your imperfect spouse. Once you learn that you are not going to change your spouse, you can learn to be happier with who they are. After all, God made them, you fell in love with them, so there must be a way to be happy with them.
There is. James 4:7 says, “So humble yourselves before God…” We have some bad ideas about humility. We think it is walking around like we are inferior to others. Not so. Humility is not thinking less of yourself – it is thinking of yourself less.
As we draw closer to Christ, we become less aware of the failings of others, and more aware of God’s grace for us. It is a win-win proposition!
More in love with my sweetie than ever… Jerry