The topic of marriage has been on my mind a lot lately. I have seen a lot of divorces recently especially among military couples, and it deeply saddens me. My parents divorced when I was fifteen years old and because of that I work extra hard to make sure my marriage will never see that as an option. I try and make sure that that our marriage is full of love and meaning and I wholeheartedly believe that while neither of us are perfect, it is a perfect union.
I’ve only been married three and half years, but in those years we have gone through a lot. Not in our marriage necessarily, but in our lives together and I’ve realized that there are several things that marriage requires besides love. Love is important, but a marriage needs to be made up of so much more than that. Here is what I think a marriage requires…
We hear the verse, “Love is patient, love is kind…” but do we really understand it? Patience in marriage is about being understanding. It’s about knowing that your spouse is going to do things that annoy you or that they will do things you won’t like, and saying it’s ok or choosing to not say anything at all. Patience is waiting for them to change and knowing that it takes changing yourself first. Patience in marriage is being willing to do things for them that you probably would not do for someone else. Patience is love.
A lot of people don’t realize how much hard work goes into a marriage. I know I didn’t stop to think about it when I got married, but in order to keep your marriage the way you want it, YOU have to do the hard work. Yes, I said YOU, not your spouse, not your children, it takes YOU. It takes you stepping up and saying I don’t like the way things are going and I am going to change that. It takes you to be the bigger person and sometimes it takes your prayers and forgiveness. It takes your understanding and patience and it’s not easy. Love is not easy, it takes work to have a good marriage and to pursue a love that lasts lifetime.
Change & Acceptance of Change
People change all the time and sometime in your marriage you both will change, and with that change comes differences. Acceptance of that change comes when you realize that change is good because you are both changing and growing together. Accepting change means knowing that there will be things in your life and in your marriage that will change you both. It may be through situations or it may be as the years go by, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not meant to be, it just means that you have to learn to love your spouse through it all.
This one is a tough one. We are human, we are all selfish at times. We think of ourselves and what we can get out of things. We try to make marriage something that is for OUR benefit or OUR enjoyment, but the truth is we are in marriage to change our spouse’s life, to be there for them, to love them, and to encourage them through the path of life. True love is unselfish, and I have realized that so many times in my marriage. If I want something out of my marriage I need to put my husband first (after God) and lay down my selfish desires. After that everything else will fall into place.
It’s so easy to hold grudges, to get lost in what your spouse has done to you. But the biggest gift you can give your spouse is forgiveness. Letting go and realizing that they are human just like you. That your spouse WILL make mistakes and so will you. Grace and forgiveness is what God gave to us, and we owe that to our spouse as well.
A little bit of kindness can go a long way. It can be an encouragement after a long day, or a reprieve from the daily stresses of life. It can be hard to be kind to your spouse when we are angry, or when we feel like they don’t deserve it, but the times we choose kindness over bitterness or over annoyance, those are the times that your spouse is going to remember. They deserve a kindness that only you can give with your words and actions.
Determination and Perseverance
I left this one for last because I believe this is the most important. In order to have the marriage and the love you have always dreamed of, you have to have the determination to do all the above things and more. You have to persevere through the hard times and determine not to let them get you down. No marriage is perfect, marriage is hard work, there is going to be rough times, but in those times determination to get through it and to persevere through whatever you are going through – that is what’s going to help you make it. The ability to not give up, to keep on going, and persevere.
I don’t know if anyone is struggling in their marriage right now, but I do know that marriages tend to fade during the hard times. Remember that marriage requires hard work. God brought you and your spouse together for a reason, don’t give up on that, find out what God has for you in your marriage and you will find that He can change you both through it all.