Dear Sister: The Most Important Thing I Could Tell You About Marriage
In a month's time, you will be a wife. Less than thirty days from now, you'll put on a white dress and say yes to a forever that you've only ever dreamed about until now. And I'm sure you know by now that there are a lot of opinions out there about submission and egalitarian versus complementarianism and who should be making more money and how to have 72 orgasms in one night. But those aren't the things that I want to share with you.
When your brother and I were engaged, we took inventories that served as spring boards for conversation in premarital counseling. In the moment, I thought I had my head on straight about this whole marriage thing. Naturally, I was ecstatically joyful, but I was also reverent of the holiness of the union I was about to enter into. On the outside, I appeared cool, calm, and collected. The results of the inventory, however, told a different story.
I saw marriage as the be-all and end-all. Once I walked down that aisle and said I do, I would finally, at long last, be content. Of course, I never would have admitted that three years ago. Perhaps I didn't even realize at the time that I saw marriage as a savior.
Maybe that's the reason so many marriages are crumbling. We expect our spouse to provide the kind of completion and contentment that only Christ can, and when we finally realize that the person we married is, in fact, fallen, they become the enemy. We wonder if we made the wrong decision and begin to look for a way out.
My husband, your brother, cannot save me. I love him more than life itself, but he cannot do the work of saving my soul. And though he complements me better than anyone else, he cannot complete me. Your husband will not be able to do those things for you, either. The same goes for our completing and saving them. The truth is, marriage reveals weaknesses we never knew we had.
Because we are fallen and our flesh is weak, we are quick to become all of the things love isn't. In our haste, we speak harsh words, demand our own way, and tally up all the little things that annoy us. This is our default. And the world will tell you that love is made up of magical feelings and grand gestures, but it isn't. Rather, love is a decision that you have to make to keep choosing each other, minute by minute, regardless of what happened yesterday or what will happen today. And in the midst of those minute by minute decisions, sometimes there is magic. There will be times of laughing so hard you cry (and also crying so hard that you laugh). There will be times where everything feels right, just like John Hughes said it would.
The other side of the coin is that some days, you'll feel like its just all going to hell. Some days, the very last thing you'll want to choose is your husband, and you'll feel like the very last choice he wants to make. A dear friend of mine experienced this very thing in the most tragic of ways this year, and it really could have all fallen apart. Where the world would see a crossroads and an easy way out, she looked ahead and saw a straight and narrow path, sure as the sun marks the day. A couple months ago, she shared something that absolutely rocked my world: though she was heartbroken, she did not look at her husband and see her enemy.
Remember this: we have a very real enemy. His name is Satan, and his mission is to steal and kill and destroy everything good. This includes our relationships. And he'll use anything he can to bring about anguish. This is why we have to always be on our guard. The good news is that we have tools to combat his attacks. Also remember that when you feel like your marriage is coming under attack (which it will, if it is God-honoring) that our very real enemy has already been defeated by our very real savior.
That is what I want you to know about marriage. Sure, there is a slew of other advice I could offer -- advice about setting goals and always eating dinner together and the importance of serving one another, but so much more than that, I want to tell you: we serve a God who is faithful. He is Love. Perfect love.
And He is all you need.