I don’t think anyone is really prepared for marriage. Not really!! You can get married at 19 or 32… there is not a single person that goes into marriage knowing what it will really be like. Many of us even took classes to prepare us for a lifelong experience but nothing is close to living it out on a daily basis. We can prepare ourselves by reading books and being educated on the “what ifs” but truthfully you really do not know how you will respond when crap hits the fan until it happens.
Don’t get me wrong… there are so many amazing things about marriage. For one thing you have a lifelong partner who can and will be your best friend. In marriage you have a shoulder to lean on, a sense of belonging and security. You have someone to tell you that everything will be okay and sometimes just hold you and let you cry when you need it.
When things get bad, they can get really bad.
When things get ugly, when people act ugly, it can get really ugly.
Stuff happens, life happens and it can be so bad sometimes that you start to think to yourself that there was no way that you signed up for this. There are failures, and sometimes things hurt you to the point you just want to walk away. Money gets tight and feelings get hurt. Rejection and other traumatic things happen. In some cases there is mental illness or a life threatening illness.
And then there are times you will fight… you will have knock out, dragged out fights.
Then there is sickness… and by sickness I mean imagine being married to someone that gets a bad case of the stomach flu. (Things can get messy and some things happen in marriage that you cannot and should not share with another person).
Marriage is life altering. So from the moment you give your life to another person you need to make a choice. A choice from the very start of your journey to establish in your own heart that marriage is a covenant, a promise you will uphold no matter what comes your way.
Bob and Audrey Meisner wrote in their book Your Supernatural Marriage that real, outward proof of a covenant life in action is the presence of genuine truth and honesty in the relationship between a woman and a man no matter the circumstances. These benefits include security, assurance, protection and hope (2006).
A covenant is a commitment to honor continually and completely to each other. It is choosing to be accountable to each other with such honesty that you learn to overcome failures and walk through difficulties together.
This is easy to say… and not always easy to do. This is put to test continually. We are not perfect people and we do not always live up to expectations. We mess up, fail, and make wrong decisions.
We have to choose to be accountable to each other and decide early (before you walk down the isle or even right now – if you are already married) that this is an agreement that cannot be broken. It is a commitment you are making for life.
When you make a decision from the very beginning to choose love… above all else, no matter what… you are then able to see past the bad and have confidence that even at rock bottom things can get better.
Someone once said to me, “When you hate him, find a reason to like him. When you only like him, find a reason to love him.”
I married at 19 and I failed my marriage because I thought the world was about me and my wants and needs. I did not see marriage as a lifelong commitment. I found out I was expecting and I thought it was a way to make things right. I look back now and I believe I could have survived every bit of garbage (his and mine) if I would have had the maturity. If I had taken it upon myself to practice love, it may have been different. If I had decided, “I am going to put into this relationship even if at this time you are unable to give back.”
I am now remarried and some ugly stuff has happened and we both could have walked away many times but we have taken a step back each time and saw potential in our marriage. There were times it took us bringing in a third party such as a counselor to see this. We even had one counselor tell us they could not help us (we were that much of a mess). But we did not give up and we sought out more help. And because we did not give up we learned that a marriage that is falling apart can be replenished and restored if two people are willing to put in the work.
Marriage might be the hardest thing you ever do and in seasons of fear and anger you may feel bombarded and overwhelmed with emotions, but if you fight for your marriage you will also discover it can be the most fulfilling, most satisfying, most beautiful commitment you will ever make.
Meisner, B. & A., (2006). Your Supernatural Marriage, 49 & 65.