I love this picture of Ryan and me from several years ago. Don’t we look supremely happy! We were. Yet, we were simultaneously walking through challenging times behind the scenes. This snapshot is merely a split second of marital bliss. How many posts on social media are just that? A perfect moment during a rather imperfect life.
I wish it was all smiles. But that’s just not reality. I’m not living a movie. I’m living my messed up life instead. And it hurts. Deeply at times. Smiles one moment. Pain the next.
Recently I attended a bridal shower, which included a time for all attendees to speak up and give a piece of marital advice. Here is this new beautiful young bride with a bright future ahead of her. Yet, I know after two decades of marriage and watching those around me during that time that tremendously difficult times are on the horizon when the warm fuzzy feeling of the present will most certainly dissipate. I don’t want to squelch her joy. But, wow, marriage is crazy hard! What advice could I possibly bestow on this newest member of the marriage club? I value and recommend marriage, but how do I prepare her for the rough waters ahead? After many others spoke words of wisdom, I finally reluctantly decided to chime in towards the end.
“Get counseling sooner than later. It doesn’t have to be formal counseling. Just meet with another couple about a specific issue if you need to. But do it sooner than later.” A lady seconded my advice. Then another.
For several years now, bridal showers and weddings give me mixed feelings. I’m beyond thrilled for the new bud of love, but I am no longer naive. This happy couple will not be happy forever. Life isn’t all smiles. The Bible tells us it is natural to love the ones who are loving towards us. (Matthew 5:46) But how well will a couple love when life isn’t all smiles?
Nevertheless, I equally know that it is in that precise heartbreaking period that true love can emerge with more beauty than ever. When two sinners humbly and faithfully persevere through the valley together, that is true love. Unfailing love. That type of enduring love is more desirable than any warm and fuzzy feeling during the honeymoon stage. A new bride can’t comprehend this yet, but in time she will have the opportunity to experience this truth firsthand. Meanwhile, I’ll share my two-cents at the bridal shower and realize that maybe I’m okay that life isn’t all smiles. The tested love I now know with Ryan was worth traversing the valley to reach. There is something better than the honeymoon stage. I hope this new bride will one day reach that deeper, stronger stage of marital bliss too.
I Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
For more thoughts on marriage, you can read this post.