Today, I have been married eighteen years. In a row. To the same person.
This is no small accomplishment, given our culture’s view of marriage as a disposable commodity. And given that I am married to a difficult person.
But then again, so is he. We are both difficult people, which is to say, we are human beings, who happen to have opinions, which sometimes differ. I suppose that makes it all the more intriguing that we are still here—waking up next to each other. Well, I’m awake, and he’s actually still in bed. I’m a morning person, he’s not. I see the kids off to school, he waits up for them when they’re out. I went to bed last night before he did, he stayed up and cleaned the kitchen. (Love that).
I remember one of our marriage counselors saying to us that marriage is a crucible, wherein your character is refined. After eighteen years, I can attest to the truth of that metaphor.
A crucible is a heat-resistant bowl, in which refiners burn off the impurities in precious metals. Even after eighteen years, I am still learning about the impurities in my character—my tendency to smooth things over by enabling, for example. My fear of asking for what I need, my resentment when those needs go unmet. My tendency to see my opinions as fact. These small flaws I tend to ignore, and focus on the more glaring (in my opinion) weaknesses of my spouse.
I’m a slow learner, but after eighteen years, I am learning that I should not focus on my husband’s flaws. Nor should I focus on my own.
Rather, we should both focus on the sufficiency of Christ. When we expect our marriage (or any human relationship) to give us what only God can really give us, we are bound to be disappointed. When we connect with Divine Love, when we let Jesus meet that soul hunger, two things happen: it takes the pressure off of our marriage to provide something it cannot, and we get the love we need.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…when I am weak, I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)