Last week at the women’s bible study I attend, one of the women shared some of the difficulties and pain she is currently going through. With tears on her cheek she voiced how, with all the stuff going on in her life, it seemed much easier for her to leave her husband and live on her own. My heart broke for this young woman and the pain she is in. It made me think of marriage in general and mine in particular.
I entered into marriage with the proverbial stars in my eyes. I patiently acknowledged the pre-marital counselor’s advice about weathering the storms that would come but secretly believed that my marriage would somehow be different. My husband and I have celebrated over 30 years of marriage. I can honestly and thankfully say that for most of those years I have been happily married. However, there was a time when, like the young woman at our bible study, I thought my life would be easier if I just left.
Here is why I stayed:
- Before being a wife, I am a Christ follower. The Christian life is about learning to love like Christ loves. There is no better place than marriage to learn to love sacrificially and unselfishly. I wanted to learn this kind of love.
- I did not want my children to be raised in a broken home. During the years when my husband and I faced our greatest challenges, we agreed on this one thing – our children needed both of us as active and present parents.
- As a leader in the church I wanted to model a marriage that is lasting. Not the stars-in-my-eyes kind of marriage I imagined in the weeks leading up to my wedding, not the we’ve-got-it-all-together-with-no-issues kind, but the real roll-up-your-sleeves-and-work-at-it kind. I cannot model something that is no longer there so leaving was not an option for me.
- There are many good things about the man I married. No matter how strained our relationship and how stretched I felt, I chose to look at the good in my husband. I literally made a list. During the tough times I would read that list daily because I did not want the enemy of my soul to distract me with exaggeration and lies about my husband’s faults .
- During the tough years I knew that I had stuff in my own life that I needed to work on and improve. Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend became a reality to me. My husband helped then and continues now to smooth off the rough edges in my life.
Here is what the outcome has been:
- My husband has become my best friend. I have girl friends who bring joy to my life and who get the ‘being female’ thing, but none of them compare in friendship to my husband. The friendship this man freely gives to me is a precious gift, worth keeping safe.
- The qualities my husband brings to this union complete me and help to make me whole.
- I hope that my children and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren will see from our marriage that this God-ordained institution of marriage can truly be a joyous gift from Him and not a scourge as the world would like us to believe.
- I have three years of pre-marriage and more than thirty years of married history that I have invested in this relationship. There have been so many incredible life experiences that we have shared. I have learnt, and continue to learn, how to love. Truly, madly, deeply. Next to God, my marriage has come to mean more than anything else in this world to me.
When life got complicated and things got murky and I felt like walking away but chose to stay, that was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
To the young woman in my bible study – it may seem easier to walk away from your husband right now but I believe there are many reasons why it is worth staying and working through these tough times. I am praying for you.
Question: C.S. Lewis teaches us that God’s intent is not that being ‘in love’ should result in marriage but rather that marriage should result in love. What do you think?