There are marriage retreats, marriage Bible studies, websites dedicated to strengthening marriages and encouraging wives... what's the big deal, anyway?
I mean, the definition of marriage seems to be up for debate these days. Not only is the definition changing, but fewer people are choosing to get married, and even fewer are staying married.
As Christians, what's the point?
Christians believe that marriage was created by God. Just look at the Bible. The Bible begins and ends with a wedding, after all- first in the garden of Eden between Adam and Eve, and then in Revelation between Christ and the Church. Marriage bookends all of human history.
Marriage was God's idea in the first place. Sometimes we think the greatest enemy of marriage is adultery, or losing passion for one another, or focusing too much on the kids.
Sometimes we push it even further outside our own front doors and think that same-sex marriage is the enemy, no-fault divorce is the enemy, or media or pornography or unrealistic expectations set by romantic comedies are the enemy.
Yes, those things are harmful to a healthy marriage and to marriage as a whole. But the true enemy of marriage?
The true enemy of marriage is my own selfishness.
And that's really scary, because I am very, very selfish.
When I got married, I kind of thought that I'd be more... fulfilled. I thought I would have someone around to listen to me, to make me smile, to help me with the stuff of life.
(See the issue there? Me, me, me!)
My darling Trevor is not perfect (believe it or not). He has his faults, to be sure. Of course, I didn't know all those faults before we got married. And after I found out just how imperfect he is, I had two choices. I could throw in the towel, or work at it anyway.
It is work. It really really is. And sometimes that work is rewarding and all sunshiney and glorious.
More often, though, it hurts. I wasn't prepared for the hurting part.
The first time Trevor sat down with me and told me that my behavior was off base, I reacted badly.
We'd spent the day with my sisters... and my sisters sometimes get the best of me. They got the best of me that afternoon, anyway. I just did things the way I always did things- I snapped back with a hurtful, sarcastic comment or two.
On the drive home, Trevor called me out on it.
I was mad. Who was he to think he understood the complicated relationship between my sisters and I?! Who does he think he is?!
Well, he rightly thought he was my husband.
He's dedicated to making me a better person (just as I am to him).
And sometimes, yes. That hurts.
As you're planning for or beginning this new life- this new marriage- don't fall into the trap that your marriage should always be pain-free, full of joy and good lighting. That's just not the way it is.
Your marriage will result in hurt feelings, in disappointment, in some confrontation. Things won't always seem so wonderful.
But you will grow. You'll grow towards holiness and become a better person for Christ.
If you're called to marriage, remember this. Marriage isn't about you. It's not about having all your needs met (only Jesus can do that, honey). It's about learning to love as you have been loved by your Creator. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it be worth it? Definitely.
Ally spends most of her days surrounded by coffee cups and registration forms, with wild turkeys and wilder middle-schoolers out the window. She writes about life at a Bible Camp, counts her blessings, and rambles about faith at A Home Called Shalom.