Whoa! What? Interesting statement… I read this months ago now, and have been pondering it more or less all this time. I had an initial reaction to it that dismissed it as too heavy and not entirely true. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that for those of us who are married (because this clearly doesn’t apply to singles), this statement is a great one. Here’s why.
My husband and I decided that we both needed to make a more conscious effort to be healthier. For some reason, we’re getting older. For some reason, maybe related to that, it’s harder and harder to stay healthy. It’s a battle.
One of the ways we decided to do this is to drink more water. Whole days could go by and I’ve had maybe two glasses of water all day. Not good. I’d feel it when I lived in Colorado almost immediately. But here, in the good ole southern humidity, I can go for a few days this way, but eventually I’ll start to feel it. My tongue will actually get swollen. I won’t feel this happening but all of a sudden, I’ll start biting my tongue more. And then putting two and two together and usually getting four, I’ll realize, I really need to drink more water. So, I bought a gallon jug and fill it with water every morning. My husband and I drink from this all day and by the end of the day it needs to be gone. (Any guesses on where I’m going with this?)
How do you know if someone is drinking more water than the other? It’s a guess. I can guess that I’ve had about half and make a conscious effort to keep track of how much I’ve had and assume that he’s had the rest. Point is we are both getting healthy because our spouse is getting healthy. We’re in this together. We’re sharing the jug and there’s no way around it.
Talk to anyone who has gone through real difficulties in marriage and ask if she can pinpoint one specific instance when she saw it go bad. Or conversely, one instance when she felt particularly loved and appreciated. It will be very revealing.
I think it happens over time. No one really wakes up one morning and says, that’s it, I’m done. It happens in increments and most of the battle is in the mind and heart. Our sickness in marriage is made of little symptoms, swollen tongues that go unnoticed. Or if it’s noticed, we choose to ignore it or we think it will fix itself on its own. it never will. Never ever. We know this. Somewhere along the way we stop caring.
Everything else in life may be perfect, or as close to it as things can be, but if your marriage is difficult, what does that mean for you? It’s a tough question. Here are some more tough questions to read your temperature:
Are there things you have consciously decided to do together for each other’s good? When was the last time you did something specifically, intentionally for your spouse’s good? Even if it inconvenienced you? When was the last time you felt loved and fully accepted by your spouse? Did you tell him or her? Have you asked your spouse when he or she was particularly loved and accepted? Are there things you are keeping secret? Can you think of anything and then quickly sweep them under the rug because they aren’t that big of a deal? Money issues? Irritations? Habits that you steam about when she/he is gone? Are there things you complain to someone else about your spouse?
(As an aside, a post for another day maybe, a good friend/family person will stop you from complaining and ask you if you have discussed this with your spouse. If your answer is no, that person will tell you that you are gossiping about your spouse, and that you need to talk with your spouse about it. That person will also pray with you and give you wise counsel on how to talk about it or else that person is not wise and not helping either of you in that moment.)
My marriage is great. It isn’t feverish and unhealthy, bursting into fits of pent up anger and bitter hurtfulness. It isn’t low and unhealthily quiet, disconnected, and stifled. We have been together for 4 years and that doesn’t seem much, relatively speaking. But we’ve already had our troubles. We’ve had hard talks about things we’ve kept from each other in our efforts to avoid conflict, to avoid shame and guilt, to not bother each other with hardships of life. Marriage can be hard because, like Tim Keller has stated, it’s two sinful, selfish people coming together and trying to live life. We’re in each other’s space. We have to decide to stay there forever.
Marriage has been the most well informed and conscious decisions I’ve ever made. The decision didn’t end with “I do” – in fact, it jumpstarted with “I do” so that I choose to “do” every single day of my life. And twice on Sundays. (I don’t know what I’m saying there, it just sounded funny in my head.) I want to continue to take our temperature, checking in and being thorough, together, keeping each other on track. We need water. Lots and lots of water. More than that, we need living water. We need the water that will never leave us thirsty and will always satisfy. This water will keep us clinging to Jesus AND to each other. As we grow in grace and truth, we will grow toward each other – quick to repent and forgive, weeping and rejoicing together, serving and out-serving each other, being Jesus to each other, giving life, speaking life and not death to each other. – though, from where I’m standing now, it is hard to imagine being any closer to my man…
The decision didn’t end with “I do” –
in fact, it jumpstarted with “I do”
so that I choose to “do” every single day of my life.