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Day Ten // For the Love

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Chapter 12: Marriage: Have Fun & Stuff โ€“ Pages 77-85

Do you want to know how I thought I’d meet my husband?

Picture this. Itโ€™s a rainy Fall day. My hands are being warmed by a paper cup of latte goodness as I peruse the stacks of old novels at a hip, local secondhand bookstore in some artsy part of town. You know the kind with a little barista in the corner with tiny tables and lots of local flyers strew about on cork boards. This place is justโ€ฆcool. There is some sort of instrumental bluesy, jazzy type music wafting in the air along with the smell of old books. Itโ€™s soโ€ฆromantic.

Couples are laughing and canoodling in corners, playing footsie under cafe tables while reading their perspective books. Suddenly, I see my favorite anthology of poetry a little too high out of reach. โ€œShort girl problems,โ€ I think.  As I start to reach up on my tippy toes, a tall drink of water of a man is simultaneously reaching for that exact same incredible book. Ours hands touch. Itโ€™s kissmet. We lock eyes and in that same moment I lose my balance and fall into his arms. He catches me. I lose my breath caught in his stare.

We laugh and we both realize in that very moment we had just found โ€œthe one.โ€ In this very bookstore, on this very perfect rainy day. This dashingly handsome, well read, stylish, artistic, hilarious, Jesus loving man buys me this book and another cup of coffee.

He serenades me into the night (oh yea, he plays guitar and sings like an angel) and we talk for hours about God, family life, and our identical dreams to change the world.

A short time later we are wed and we are one. We have two perfect kids-a boy and girl. He has the bible memorized, rubs my feet, serves in ministry, pens me poetry, and sweetly sings our children to sleep every night. We never fight. We have SO much in commonโ€ฆwe can practically finish each others sentences. I meanโ€ฆ.life is bliss.

Annnnnnnnnnd scene.

Marriage is hardly a romantic comedy. The struggle is real, but the struggle has purpose.

I donโ€™t know about you, but growing up I idolized love and marriage. I dreamed of a love life full of lovey-dovey sticky notes on bathroom mirrors and my happily ever after life with a white picket fence around it. It doesnโ€™t help that at every turn we are flooded with this idealized, romanticized version of coupledom without much truth or even warning to what to really know and expect.

While we understand that marriage should encompass โ€œweโ€, somehow our expectations and behaviors can shout โ€œmeโ€! This sets our marriages up for a crash and burn. I often found myself throwing a fit because my husband wasnโ€™t constantly trying to sweep me off my feet with a heart cry from Hollywood.

Letโ€™s face it, friends, this is not the truth and the sooner we realize our husbandโ€™s, or future husbands, arenโ€™t Ryan Gosling, the more adjusted we will be.

And you want to know something else about me and my husband? We are different. Like really different. Real life set in and expectations met reality. I walked around a little stunned my first year of marriage waiting for my husband to basically read my mind.

Until we realize God has designed men and women so incredibly different (yet so complimentary) we will always be at war with our spouse. Put down your dukes and embrace the differences, ladies.

Jen Hatmaker makes this brilliant point in her chapter, Marriage: Have Fun and Stuff:

โ€œIn the marriage rhythm, figure out your notes and play them well. This is your part of the song. Stop being mad that your guy is terrible at your notes. Those are yours. He has his. Sure, there is overlap, but you didnโ€™t marry your clone. Be happy that you make one whole person together.โ€ {For the Love}

Sure, my husband isnโ€™t always Prince Charming penning poetry about our fiery love, but you know what he is: loyal and an awesome family man with the best work ethic of anyone I have ever met. He makes me laugh. He provides. He has great shoulders. When I am anxious and flailing my emotions around like a crazy lady, he is grounded and sound.

When he needs to be lifted up, I exhort his abilities and gifts with tender affection. Where I have weakness, my husband has strength and vice versa. The differences actually make sense and compliment (who would have thought?). God is so smart with His design and perfect plan, right?

Also, conflict isnโ€™t always a bad thing. My husband and I have grown so much through some of our struggles (and by struggles, I mean mountains). Iโ€™ve learned to yield to the Holy Spirit and pray for our marriage so much more these days instead trying to BE my husbandโ€™s Holy Spirit.

Giving up control and eating some humble pie are choices I have to make daily in my marriage; and my husband has his sacrifices, too. Some days we get it right, and itโ€™s open heaven bliss. Itโ€™s not always easy, but just know that serving the heart of the other is when Jesus shows up and rights every wrong in those really hard moments in marriage. Itโ€™s worth doing it His way.

Most of all, marriage isnโ€™t just about happiness as much as it is about pursuing holiness. What I am learning most about marriage over the years is that it is one of the most perfect demonstrations of Christ-likeness and dying to self.

On our wedding day, my husband and I washed each otherโ€™s feet. We did this out of our desire to serve, respect, love, and honor the other before our own selfish needs. This is our constant work in progress.

Friends, no marriage is perfect, but when you are BOTH seeking to met the needs of each other, both of your needs get met. It is an equation God put together that solves into a grand, beautiful solution. Paul reminds us of these simple, yet powerful instructions for Christian households.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:21

Sometimes we think serving and submission means that we are a powerless doormat. Not true. Again, Godโ€™s design is perfect against the polar opposite worldview: MY needs come first. When two people are selfishly resisting meeting the needs of the other, neither is taken care of and resentment starts building emotional brick walls and hardening hearts.

Take the leap and move first. Love and serve each other with intentional purpose. Jesus will meet you in your marriage, I promise. Trusting Christโ€™s perfect plan for marriage is a built in way to not only glorify God and put on holiness, but happiness then comes as a wonderful, fulfilling benefit.

My identity is not found in being Mikeโ€™s wife; it is found in Jesus and walking out love with the heart and commands of Christ. I am able to love my husband because Christ loved me first and I love Him in return.

Skip the fantasy life and start with Jesus. It is out of this overflow that our relationships and marriages will thrive and ultimately glorify Him.

What personal uniqueness and strengths do you think you bring (or hope to bring) to marriage to compliment your spouse?

[divider] [row-start] [three-fourths]Staci Payne is a Word girl who loves authentic connection and has a passion for online women’s ministry (along with the perfect latte to start her day).

You can connect with her on Facebook, and Instagram.[/three-fourths] [one-fourth]Staci Payne[/one-fourth] [row-end]

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  1. Staci,
    What a beautifully written piece. The passion of your words drew me in and the raw emotion you displayed in your desires for a picture perfect, fairy tale kind of love, I so get! Thank you for sharing such bold statements like, “Most of all, marriage isnโ€™t just about happiness as much as it is about pursuing holiness.” Amen, girl, amen! And I’m not even married! Definitely need to refer back to this post when I begin thinking that an earthly man can right all of the wrongs in my life. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your heart! <3

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