People were placing bets at our wedding. Nobody thought we had a chance. We were young, we weren’t settled in life, and we barely knew each other. But we didn’t care what other people thought. We were starry-eyed and in love.
Reality quickly set in, and we realized we didn’t know what in the world we doing. We found out that marriage was not like dating. After years of ignoring the distance that had crept into our relationship, we began to feel very discouraged. We searched for ways to fill the void, but we ended up feeling more miserable. Because that is what happens when you try to close the giant gaps in your life with things other than God.
Eventually, we realized we were a million miles apart and in real danger of crashing and burning. Our marriage was fragile, and we needed to get serious fast. God deserves all the credit, but we took certain steps that held us together. And now, our marriage is really strong. It makes me want to shout it from the rooftops. God redeems and makes all things new. Even relationships that seem beyond hope.
If you are tempted to throw in the towel, listen to me:
The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where God waters it.
If your heart feels cold, snap out of it. Slap yourself around and get serious. Marriages are failing at a rapid rate, so we need to stay alert. God wants good things for you, so rest in that as you work towards the marriage He has for you.
1. Be stubborn
Decide that you are not going anywhere. You have to start pouring all of your efforts and affections into your spouse, even if you don’t feel in love. You commit and you work towards the end result you want. No wishy-washy. No daydreaming about how your life could be without your spouse. No threatening to leave when you get angry. Do not use the D-Word. Be 100 percent present.
2. Stay teachable
Don’t stop going to church. Don’t avoid your friends. Keep talking to your pastor. For a while, we texted and called our pastor each time the bottom dropped out from under us. It took about six months of this before we saw huge changes. Thankfully, Pastor Nate was willing to walk us through some of our hardest times. We didn’t isolate ourselves, we allowed others to speak into our lives and learned from it. We stayed teachable. It was humbling, but it was crucial for success. Our Christian life was meant to be walked out together, so don’t go it alone.
3. Get grateful
It is so easy to become self-focused. We can quickly feel justified in our demands and complaints. Instead of expecting your spouse to meet your lists of needs, make a list of the things you are thankful for. You will feel so much happier! Once I began to feel grateful for the things Scott said and did, I stopped feeling critical. Marriage consists of two imperfect people, so expecting perfection will work against you.
We knew God was going to write the end of our story, not us. We were clueless when we started out, but who isn’t? If I had the chance to go back, I’d marry the same guy, and walk this journey all over again with him. I don’t believe in soul mates. I believe in creating something beautiful with your spouse through relentless determination and hard work. I believe true love is sticking by your spouse no matter how you feel. Your heart will trick you, so don’t let it rule you. Put it in its place and view your marriage in the light of scripture — in light of God’s love for you.