I don’t care who you are or how romantic your story, even if it’s a fairytale come true. Everyone who’s married faces the challenge of marital harmony. Two broken people living together in a lifetime relationship presents a difficulty in and of itself.
No two people can move through an unpredictable life in an ever-changing world without facing some sort of conflict, disaster, or insurmountable obstacle. No couple sees eye to eye on every single issue. No couple coasts through life never having a disagreement. No two people are 100% in harmony. Not even Harry and Meghan.
My husband and I married when we were still teens. We were on-again-off-again high school sweethearts, and then we were an on-for-life married couple.
We came from very divergent home backgrounds. I had no brothers. He had no sisters. So, we usually had no idea why the other had said or done this or that. His childhood was loud and boisterous with lots of back and forth between five brothers and their parents. I grew up with one sister in the quiet home of a college librarian and a teacher. We read. A lot. And we conversed quietly.
I was the firstborn child in my family of origin. He was the baby in his.
I came from a family that set long-term goals and pursued them. He was spontaneous. He wanted to simply carry on. I wanted to dissect it, strategize about it, and work out a plan.
However both us carried deep familial wounds. Like a jigsaw puzzle our wounded and broken places aligned and locked together. However, we still had to learn to meld into a one-flesh cohesive team after coming from such diverse and broken places.
Everyone who marries faces the challenge of marital harmony. Opposites generally attract, so our challenges were probably pretty common. For years, we butted heads. We still do, though this coming week we’ll celebrate our forty-first anniversary.Everyone who marries faces the challenge of marital harmony. Opposites generally attract. Click To Tweet
Our faith was and still is our commonality. We married as searchers. I was an infant and backslidden prodigal Christian when we married. He was a seeker who had filled out the response card at a Josh McDowell gospel presentation every night for a week with no follow-up from any staff.
We were both confused about faith, wondering how to clean up ourselves, wanting to please Jesus, yet not realizing how to rely on the Lord for our growth. Our enormous pile of sins and dysfunctional behaviors seemed like an insurmountable problem, so we slapped on a legalistic rule-keeping Band-aid. Of course, that didn’t work.
The only thing that produced marital harmony was our eventual realization of our joint brokenness. It took a long time. We began as legalists, because we thought that we could fix it all. We had to get to the place where we realized that only Jesus could do this. We needed his grace, his help, and his enablement.
We still do.
Are you there yet? If so, there’s hope.The only thing that produced marital harmony was our eventual realization of our joint brokenness. It took a long time. Click To Tweet
Jesus never abandons, nor does he forsake. That means we each have a lifetime of help. All we need do is face our weaknesses, surrender them to God, and allow him to be the one who works on us and who works on our spouse. We can’t “fix” one another, and we can’t “fix” even ourselves. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours.
To love our spouses for life, to forgive over and over again, we need God’s grace, and that we have in Christ in abundant measure. With the apostle Paul, we can also say: “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14 NIV).
With our hope set on Christ, with humility toward one another, and with a faithful willingness to love and to forgive, we still seek to live as the Lord empowers. By the grace of God alone and with his help, our marriage has held together through every trial, and we hope and pray will for a lifetime.
In God we hope. I pray the same for you.