It was shortly after New Year's and some big football game was on television, so husband had invited my brother over to watch several hours of grown men throwing around the pigskin. In preparation for this big game with his new brother-in-law, husband had gone all out with the game-day food and Barq's root beer.
Several hours later, the game was over, and husband began to feel ill, so he marched upstairs and went to bed, leaving our tiny kitchenette a wreck. The sink was mounded high with dirty dishes; empty bottles and bowls of congealed cheese dip cluttered what little counter space we had; and on the sofa were open bags of chips growing more stale by the second.
The honeymoon was officially over.
As I cleaned up the mess, I grumbled to myself over how lazy my new spouse was. I didn't feel my best either, but someone had to clean up his mess. Within 24 hours, though, I, too, understood why he went to bed without helping. We both had a bad case of the flu.
Husbands and wives don't always like each other. And, honestly, why should they? Even when God mysteriously transforms the two into one being at the start of their marriage, still, they are two individuals, each crafted uniquely by our Creator.
At their best, husband and wife are two halves, one complementing the other as they both struggle through this life. At their worst, the two halves work against each other or grow frustrated in a failed attempt to make the other half into a mirror image of themselves instead of an equal, but different, counterpart.
In my own marriage, husband and I know each other better than anyone else does. We routinely see each other at our worst and at our best. We can finish each other's sentences and even laugh silly at our own private jokes that leave my oldest son grinning in ignorance, begging, "What!? What's so funny!? Tell me!"
And yet, there are days when we struggle to communicate, when miscommunication or lack of communication is more prevalent than the cozy intimate speech of young lovers. Sometimes, it's simply hard to be understood. I would swear we're both speaking English, but it's still not the same language.
Without Jesus and without an understanding that marriage is designed to make us holy versus happy, there's no telling how many miles would separate us by this point. Yet, that doesn't mean our marriage or any other Christian marriage is easy sailing through untroubled waters.
We suffer from marital stressors caused by lack of sleep, little "down" or "alone" time as a couple, or simply the frustration from an inability to escape a bad job into a more financially secure and less draining place of employment.
In these tough times, what makes the difference in a marriage is the ability to see opportunities for acts of love--to both be open to receive and to give love in return. And yes, that's even true for those moments when we may not necessarily like each other.
Love is a simple note of apology to a wife (attached to chocolate, of course).
Love is an insulation-covered husband, sweating in hundred degree heat as he tries to finish an office so he can work more from home, spend less time on the road, and, ultimately, take more time with his family.
Love is taking your son to school every morning while your wife cares for the two little ones. Love is honoring that commitment, even on those days when you've worked the whole night before on an emergency project, driven back home simply to spend this time with your child...and then driven back in to work for a full day.
This is what love looks like.