“Marriwage, marriwage is what brings us together . . .” Thanks, The Princess Bride.
But if marriage is what brings us together, what rips us apart? Where did the sunshine and rainbows of our wedding day go? The hopes and dreams we saw in our future? Is it that they aren’t actually attainable, or that WE (as in both people) aren’t really willing to sacrifice what it takes to get them.
After several friends’ relationships have come to an end recently, I couldn’t help but think of mine. I’d be a fool to think that at some point we couldn’t fall prey to the relationship traps life lays for us. I think back to the first month of our marriage, and honestly, it was rough. I remember sitting at my kitchen table as my husband left to go out after we had been arguing, crying to myself What have I done? I really started to freak out thinking this bicker-fest was my life now.
I don’t know what was fueling his frustration at the time because we didn’t talk about it (problem #1), but I know I kept asking myself why wasn’t he meeting my needs, and why hadn’t he done the things I wanted him to do? I felt alone and sad.
And I think that is a huge trap people in all relationships get caught up in. The me trap—I did. I do.
Here’s the magic thing about relationships that often gets thrown out of wack. If both people in the relationship stopped asking, “What can I get out of this?” and instead ask, “How can I serve my husband/wife?” the entire dynamic of the relationships would change. His main goal in life is serving you, and your main goal is serving him. No strings attached. Both of your needs are met. This is often how relationships start. The magic of a new relationship often lends itself to finding fun ways to make the other person happy.
But then, life sets in. The ugly bits of your personalities start to show up and the tone changes. The little things you used to do to let each other know you’re important don’t become as high of a priority. There may be a fight, and ugly words are said, and seeds of resentment are sown. And of course, you have no desire to try to make them feel special when you’re still secretly hurting. This cycle goes around and around until someone hops off the merry-go-round from hell.
Marriage will never be 50/50 or even 100/100. Marriage is an ebb and flow based on the season of life you are in. Maybe it is your season to give more, maybe in two months it is his, but the goal is not to keep score.
Instead, both of you keep asking yourselves, how can I serve the other?
It is also important to remember no one is perfect. Spouses get tired, and they are human. Patience and grace go a long way when things are going south, and then there is forgiveness and communication when you inevitably lose it, too. But I firmly believe that rot begins to spread in a relationship when you lose sight of serving one another and start asking what about me?
As a believer, marriage is never about you but instead about pointing others toward the Lord through your relationship. We give grace to each other just as God gave grace to us. We serve one another just as Jesus served. And we forgive just as Christ forgave us. Marriage is so hard because it totally goes against our selfish and sinful tendencies. But with both sets of eyes on Christ, we are striving for the same goal.
Marriage may bring us together, but only a servant’s heart can help keep us there.