Jill has been very sick with the stomach flu for the weekend so I get the privilege of sharing Marriage Monday with you this week.
After sharing with a group of guys about our marriage challenges and the restoration we’ve experienced, I was asked the question, “After all that, what is hard about marriage NOW?”
As I thought about his question, I found myself going through a variety of thoughts. In the past, I could easily create a list of what was hard and what was wrong in our marriage. Most often this type of question would cause me to focus on what’s wrong with Jill and most likely not include me at all. I didn’t (and don’t) want to go back to that way of thinking.
I decided to answer the question in a different way. I decided to answer it as if this is what had been asked: What about ME makes marriage hard? We all need to look at ourselves and what we bring to the table.
What makes marriage hard now? My flesh and my idealism.
My flesh: I have to work hard to keep this guy down. I’m so thankful that Jesus Christ has rescued me from me, and am thankful for His Holy Spirit who teaches and leads me. When I’m in my God zone, I do well in marriage. When I’m in my flesh zone, I am selfish, frustrated…and the toddler tirades come out.
How do I stay in the God zone? I do that by committing to grow, spending most mornings reading some Andrew Murray (my favorite is The Essential Works of Andrew Murray including Absolute Surrender) and my Bible. I journal and pray. I wake up and have coffee with Father God. This really helps me be the Spirit man and not the flesh man.
My idealism: I am doing so much better with this than I have in the past, but it is still there taunting me. If I’m not careful, the negative messages like “Marriage shouldn’t be hard.” “We’re too different.” and this weekend, with Jill being sick, “Will this ever be easy?” Idealism wants to draw me back into discontentment and I am deeply committed to not letting myself go back there.
What do I do to battle the idealism? I have to keep kicking out the unrealistic expectations and replacing them with realistic ones. “Marriage shouldn’t be this hard,” becomes “Marriage is hard work, Mark. You know that.” “We’re too different,” becomes “Every married couple is incompatible in some way.” And this weekend, “Will this ever be easy?,” became, “It’s not her fault she’s so sick. Jill’s usually high capacity and is rarely down. I just need to let her heal. Let’s face it Mark, life is not always easy.” I also keep idealism in check by focusing on what is right in our marriage and what God has done.
SO I ask you today. What about YOU makes marriage hard? What challenges do you bring to your marriage and how are you willing to grow?
P.S. Pick up your copy of No More Perfect Marriages today!
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