Monday, November 2, 2009

Marriage Wasn't Meant to Be Easy

As I thumbed through a catalog at my mom's house, the title caught my eye: Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?

Woah. What a different concept. I knew I had to read this book.

This book is not a "10 steps to a better marriage" reading. I've read several of them and rolled my eyes at the "duh" concepts they said I should apply to my marriage.

One of this book's main concepts is that we seek to fill spiritual voids in our lives by making our spouse the center of our everything instead of God: "We need to remind ourselves the ridiculousness of looking for something from other humans that only God can provide" (25). Oops--that's me, Ms. Ridiculous.

For me, the book's most groundbreaking concept is the thought that God did not intend my relationship with my spouse to be easy--instead, marriage can be considered as a "spiritual discipline," as a relationship intended to help develop Christ-like values within me--values such as forgiveness, selflessness, perseverance, holiness, persistent righteousness, love, and sacrifice. In short, marriage is "an entryway into sanctification--as a relationship that will reveal your sinful behaviors and attitudes and give you the opportunity to address them before the Lord" (97).

Thomas' other interesting point is that marriage models Christ's work of reconciling God with sinful man: "Everything I am to say and do in my life is to be supportive of this gospel ministry of reconciliation, and that commitment begins by displaying reconciliation in my personal relationships, especially in my marriage" (34).

Over the past month of reading this book, my view of my husband and my marriage has changed. He's still not perfect...and neither am I. But my perspective has made a difference.

I wish someone had handed me this book before I got married.

Like many couples, Doug and I struggled through the early years of our marriage. For the first three years, he was in school and I was working two jobs to keep him there with as few student loans as possible, so we many times only saw each other over the dinner table. He spent evenings studying at the coffee house next door, and I spent most Saturdays at home with my parents so he could study more. The result? We kept pushing aside the big issues we would have to reconcile to make our marriage work.

Then, once he graduated and had a good job, the dynamics of our relationship had to change--and that was more than a little difficult. No longer was I the main breadwinner in the household. No longer were my Saturdays "mine." And no longer was there an excuse of "no time" to resolve some important issues.

It was a pretty low point in our marriage--months of having the same argument over and over with neither of us seeing any way to a solution. What made it worse was that our relations with some family members were strained because of this issue. And on top of that, we were failing to conceive a child. It was a recipe for disaster.

I remember curling up on the floor at the far end of the house and feeling such despair. But I also remember my husband telling me we would get through this somehow. He believed even in those moments when I did not. And I will love him forever for that.

I don't recommend many books. And like most authors, Gary Thomas is long-winded. But to reframe marriage as not something for me but something to make me more like Christ--it makes me perceive picking up Coke cans and dirty socks a little differently.


  1. very interested... God constantly is reminding me to keep an eye on just who it is that I put on the pedestool each morning when I start my day...

    Will look this one up...thanks for this info and for your honesty :)

  2. Are you loaning this book out when you're done...? :)

  3. I love this post, mostly because it is unashamedly realistic. Thank you for sharing your journey as newly weds, and indeed it is a journey worth sharing.

    As you look back to those years, you will surely see the hand of God at work! Bless your husband's heart for never wanting to give up.

    Marriage is hard work. Whoever said it was easy? It is the biggest lie that divorced people bought.