My wife and I recently celebrated five years of marriage, and I wanted to offer some reflections that I had.
Marriage is Hard
I often hear it said that the first year of marriage is the hardest. To be honest, my wife and I haven’t found that to be the case. We chalk it up to good pre-marital counseling. However, that doesn’t mean that everything has been easy. In the span of our first five years, we have moved across state lines 3 times. We lived with my wife’s parents for 9 months. Both of us have lost jobs. We lived in separate states for 3 months. Add to that the day to day stresses of life and regular marital conflicts, and it quickly becomes clear that you can’t coast.
There are lots of reasons for this, but namely… we are both sinners, and our lives are inextricably bound to each other. Every decision is actually two decisions. Every mistake is actually two mistakes. Marriage is a commitment to complexity, and that complexity makes life more complicated.
Marriage takes Work
Because marriage is hard, it is necessary to be constantly diligent. This may take the form of remembering to pick up after yourself, or it may be something more significant like choosing to work a job that you don’t love in order to provide for your family. In our marriage, we have both made sacrifices to pursue the vocation that we believe that God has called us to in this season.
Whatever it is, it is work. It requires effort. Remembering birthdays, anniversaries, other special events… all takes effort.
Marriage is a Blessing from God
God didn’t have to order human relationships the way he did. It is conceivable that he could have done it a different way. But he did not. Instead, he recognized that it was not good for the man to be alone, and he created a suitable complement for him. As much as it is the case that life is simpler without a spouse, it is also often much less robust. In my experience, the highs are much higher when I experience them with my wife. The lows are just as low, but there is someone to support me in them. Even the mundane happenstance of everyday life seems to be more flavorful when I have my constant companion to taste them with.
Beyond that, the Bible is clear that marriage is an institution which is intended by God to reflect the mystery of Christ’s union with the Church. Every time that I honor and care for my wife, I’m preaching Jesus to the world. Every time that my wife loves and submits to my leadership, she is demonstrating the joyful obedience that the Lord calls the Church to embody. There isn’t a greater blessing in this life than preaching the Gospel, and together with my wife, our very life together does just that.
Marriage is Fun
This one is pretty straightforward. I have a blast with my wife, almost every day. Last night, we laid in bed with the lights off talking about theology. Last week we explored a centuries-old soldier’s cemetery in our region. The phrase friends with benefits has been used to describe casual sexual interactions between friends. If you ask me, marriage is the real friends with benefits arrangement. I always have someone to hang out with, and never have to worry that I’ll be left out of the loop.
Marriage is not Everything
Although I think marriage is something that every Christian should desire and pursue, it isn’t the only relationship. One of the sacrifices my wife and I have had to make is that God has moved us to a region and church that lacks a vibrant community of Christians our age. We have really felt the lack of those friendships. God has sustained us, and we are thankful, but the absence of those relationships has brought to the fore how important other relationships are.
Just as God ordained marriage, he has also ordained other relationships. Men leave and cleave, but that doesn’t mean that they no longer have a family of origin. God focuses our relational capital on our marriage (and subsequently children Deo volente), but that does not mean that he doesn’t desire us to have other holy interactions and friendships.