I love the photo above. If it’s true that pictures are worth a thousands words, then I should just stop here. This one paints a picture I love to remember and one that, honestly, I would prefer to project to you as if everything has just been perfect over the years.
Looking at this photo reminds me of just how “in love” Mary and I were at that time. We look so young in that photo. So full of life. I’m smiling as I think about how far we’ve come, how much ground we’ve covered and the distance we’ve traveled together. So much grace there.
I have already covered in Mistake #1 how I realize now that I never truly understood what it meant to love a woman, but looking at the photo above inspires me again to pursue that “Eros” kind of love that was so easily felt back then.
As this series continues and takes shape, I’m learning that indeed there is a great opposition to be encountered when ground that has been lost is being fought for and recovered. (tweetable)
And speaking of fighting, that’s what this mistake is all about.
I could have easily entitled this one something like “Learning How To Fight Well” or “Why Fighting With Grace Is So Important In Marriage” but then this would all become very cliché and not very helpful. (No offense to the thousands of authors who have written those articles)
You see I think, if we were all to sit in a room together and be completely vulnerable with one another, I’m sure fighting would come up, but it wouldn’t take the main stage. I think what often times lies beneath the surface is the mistake I’ve made over and over again these past 10 years.
It’s choosing to believe that we’re not in this thing (marriage) together.
Have you ever met a married couple that tried to project an image that they never had fights?
I can’t think of a more ridiculous suggestion. I can tell you story after story of marriages, that growing up I admired. They were perceived to be showcases of what marriage was meant to be like and as you can imagine, now they have all ended in divorce. I’m sure you have similar stories yourself.
I can remember one time in particular when Mary and I were having a slightly spirited conversation. (That’s putting it nicely) Then things escalated and it was like a bomb went off. That’s when the dreaded “D” word came out. Honestly I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t accept that here was this woman standing in front of me, attempting to threaten me with that word.
I was so hurt. Divorce has never been an option in my mind, but here I was actually now having a conversation about it. Although it wasn’t my idea, my self-righteousness continued to take over and I remember just completely giving in to the rage inside me.
I’m saddened to say that’s not all to the story. The truth is what was being said in-between the words I was saying was much worse than the word “Divorce.”
No one deserves to hear those words, nevertheless know those words.
“You are such a disappointment.”
The worst part is, although I didn’t verbalize those words, the story that I was living, the way I was voicing the spoken words, certainly contained them.
My heart breaks now, knowing that while I was offended by Mary dropping the “D” bomb, it’s precisely what I deserved in those moments.
But once again, God knew exactly what He was doing when He brought Mary and I together. Once again, the truest means of grace I’ve ever experienced has been in the context of my marriage to her.
She is the most beautiful person I’ve ever known.
“If two spouses each say, ‘I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,’ you have the prospect of a truly great marriage.”
Those are Tim Keller’s words and they are dead on.
I had no clue just how much my sin and brokenness would perfectly intersect with Mary’s sin and brokenness. Together they create a perfect storm. A vortex that if left unrecognized and acknowledged, would suck the very life out of each of us, the way a leach latches on and sucks the blood out of its host.
A grotesque picture I know, but what amazes me is, that’s precisely how our Great Father designed this thing to be. He purposefully and intentionally designed for marriage to be the ultimate vehicle of our transformation.
Having been created in a garden, marriage is the gospel’s process to redeem us till we once again return to that garden. (you can tweet that too!)
This redeeming work, however painful at times, certainly is beautiful. And I admit, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Over these hard-fought years, I’m now able to see with greater clarity, the enormous amounts of pressure I have put on my marriage, on Mary, to fill what she was never designed to fill. And that only points me more to the One who does.
The mistake of thinking we’re not in this together, has now been transformed into the secure attachment of knowing we are in fact in this thing together. I say it often now. I want to constantly remind both of us that it’s true. It may not always look like what we want it to look like, and may not always live up to the hollywood, faux-reality, movie set drama that is sold to us, but it certainly is an epic drama, a love story unlike any other!
Have you made this same mistake, believing that you’re alone in your marriage, that you and your spouse are enemies instead of teammates in this story together?
Share your stories in the comments below!