Wednesday, February 14, 2007

the hard work of marriage

On this Valentine's Day I would like to think a little on the hard work of marriage. I was reminded of this from Philip Yancey's recent book on prayer. He referred to marriage in that way, as he reflected on praying for others who were struggling or failing in their marriage.

"Love" hits us, like Cupid's arrow. And we're never the same. That is, until we live together (in holy matrimony) seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Then all bets stop. And "love" can wither and die. Be lost and never found. And the marriage given up, and dissolved.

This is both a tragedy, as well as involving a misunderstanding, even a basic lack of knowledge about life (though, granted, there are cases when it is more than this). There is so much to say here (though I'm hardly an expert on it), it's hard to know where to start. But to know and experience the love of God in Christ Jesus, in our hearts and lives, is a good start in bringing that same love into our marriages, so that our "love life" can be renewed and blossom again, into fullness (just like the beautiful red roses, I've already given to my wife, Deb).

We buy into all kinds of lies and half-truths. And even if there is "truth" in what's being said, we know better. If we're to really choose following Christ, and loving God wholly and our neighbor as ourselves. We can prefer escape over reality. But find in the end that we can never escape from reality. God is there. And he is not silent.

Marriage takes hard work. But the good part of that is that this hard work is relational. It should be about my spouse and me; our relationship together. That those things we each dislike about the other can be prayed about between just ourselves (individually) and God. And maybe brought out into the open at the right time (not the way I've done it, innumerable times). This should be from a love that is willing to work through difficulties, and even obstacles to that love. And refuse anything or anyone who would disrupt or destroy that love.

Of course marriage isn't all about hard work. It should be a joy and delight. We should enjoy, and work at enjoying (if need be) companionship with our "significant other"/spouse. As we've covenanted together in marriage, before God, we have God with us, to help us fulfill that promise made before him. God with us, to help us, in the love of the Trinity, see us through, and more than that, see us live and move and have our being, together, more and more, in that love. A love that, like Christ, is willing to lay down its life, and live that way daily, for the other. As we encourage and challenge one another, in God.

So let's get down to the hard work of marriage. And for those of you who are single, pray for those of us who are married. As we pray for you. That the love of God in Christ, would come through each of us to all others.

What thoughts would you like to add here?


julie said...

I was married for six weeks once.

When he realized it was a 7 day/ 24 hr job, he got cold feet.

I was devastated.

I learned more about the sustaining grace of my savior during those dark days, than in any other stretch of my life. I also had some major physical problems, likely due to stress. I was angry! He said, 'For better and for worse!' How could he shrug his shoulders and walk out? I was financially devastated. I was a mess in every area.

After that failed relationship, I was single for a decade. Since, I've been in a loving marriage for 13 years.

The unconditional love of God during that time of rejection forever changed me.

Praise God for His sustaining grace!

L.L. Barkat said...

To Julie... that is so terrible. I'm sorry. It must still hurt, even though it is so long ago...

Ted, I think that the "hard work" of marriage is made less difficult when we are happy with one another as friends. Feeding the friendship, laughing together, these are the best things...

Ted Gossard said...

Julie, So sorry, also to hear about what you've gone through. But it's so wonderful that God's healing love impacted you afterwards, and that you now enjoy a loving marriage. Maybe I emphasize too much the hard part of marriage, but I think too many are unprepared for the effort, and growth process involved in a good marriage. Thanks for sharing that.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Yes. Friendship is so important. Maintaining it. And some couples are especially blessed with a good friendship. While other couples have to work through unforeseen difficulties due to past abuse, etc. But even through that, maintaining that friendship.

I agree that being friends is so central in a love relationship (even as Song of Songs, points out). Thanks.

Dan Brennan said...


Thanks for your post! Since my wife and I first met each other on Feb. 21, we treat that day as our Valentine's Day. Your post is a good reminder that intimacy always requires effort and energy!

Ted Gossard said...

Well, Happy Valentine's Day, a little early then, Dan (and your wife)!

Yes. Effort and energy. It just doesn't happen on its own.


Kim said...

Hi Ted, I'll be married 30 years this year. I almost didn't make it to 25. God has really taught me a lot in the last 5 years.

The "hard work" of marriage is the same as the "hard work" of our pursuit of Christlikeness. I've come to believe that the state of my marriage is a direct reflection of the state of my relationship to Christ.

Marriage affords us husbands a most personal/"where the rubber meets the road" opportunity to enter into the battle between the flesh and the spirit. We have the privilege and responsibility to represent Christ. That's "hard work" because my flesh does not want to go along with that program.

I'm able to push through only when I remember a couple of things: First, that Jesus said "My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working." Second, is that this "hard work" points out day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, my need for a Savior. I would be honored to have you visit my blog (I just started it). Peace! Kim

Ted Gossard said...

Kim, Great thoughts! And I like your new blog!

Yes. Living well in marriage is much related to living well in Christ. God is at work. And we need his grace always, to get us back up and following him in our lives and marriages. Thanks!