This is a long post because I am very passionate about marriage, you will see why as you read.   I am going to make a general statement.  And, before I do, I just want to remind anyone who is reading this that when I point the finger, I am pointing at myself first.  I am going to make a very general statement, but it is coming from my own personal experience, and there are bound to be a lot of people who don’t agree with this. 

In general, we suck at marriage.  I can’t comment on any other society, but American society is not very good at marriage.  Now I know the divorce statistics are sometimes inflated, but the reality is that a very, very large proportion of us, have no idea what we are doing.   We are so concerned about keeping our own individuality intact and protecting our rights, that I believe we have lost sight of what it really means to be married and what it really looks like.  The second chapter in the bible, Genesis 2: 24 says “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.”  They will become one.  I don’t think that means, they shall become one, but maintain separate hobbies, bank accounts, names, religions, and friends.  To me, that says…”I like the idea of living together, but I don’t actually get what marriage is.”  “I love my husband, but instead of going all in, I’m going to keep things separate in case things don’t work out.”

The way we approach marriage reminds me of the night before we had my son, Eli.  We were being induced, so we knew that we were going to have a baby the next day and it struck me that I had read everything about pregnancy but had not read anything about what to do with the baby when I got him home. 

We do that in marriage too, I think.  You’re all lovey dovey before you get married and you just know it is going to be P-E-R-F-E-C-T (even though everyone tells you it won’t be…you of course are the exception).  Nothing matters except your true love for one another.  There is no plan of how to do marriage well.  If you happen to be a newlywed or single, let me give you some in sight.  It is true that where there is a capacity for the greatest love, there is also the capacity for the greatest pain.  So, start investing in your marriage from the very beginning.

Again, I want to be transparent here.  I’d like to propose a continuum of marriage ranging from negative 10 to positive 10.  Positive 10 would be the perfect marriage, experiencing the love that God intended for us to experience in marriage.  If you are a 10, I’d like to know, cause I am pretty sure you have a good book deal in your future.  Pretty much every marriage can stand some improvement.  A zero would be just a stale marriage.  You live together, but you are not connecting.  If you are in the negatives, this means that you are past the staleness and you are actually hurting each other or others.  Mark and I lived many years in the negatives….and as much as I hate to admit it, some times in the high negatives. 

I’d also like to say that we are very much not there now and even though I shouldn’t be prideful, I am really proud of us for keeping our marriage together.  We had to work hard, really hard.  We both sat in a marriage that we could not figure out how to fix for a long time.  And, when I say long time, I mean about 7ish years.  There is a long, long history to this and bits and pieces will come out in other posts, but the real lesson here is that the only reason our marriage was pulled out of the trash can is because of God’s grace. 

I couldn’t fix it.  Mark couldn’t fix it.  We went to counseling and finally we came to the end of ourselves and I began praying.  “God, I know I haven’t been your most faithful follower, but I do believe, and I believe you are the only one that can fix this.  Please, please fix it.  Fix me, fix him, convict me, convict him.  I don’t care.  Just please fix it.”  I prayed this for a long time, probably several years.   So if you are praying at night and falling asleep, He still hears you J

Then it happened.  We were still very much struggling and God gave us a baby.  Apparently, God IS all knowing, because no one in their right mind would have given us a baby at that moment.  And, without TMI, the chances of me getting pregnant were not high due to our huge level of disconnect.  It was absolutely not just coincidence that we were pregnant.  We both believe, to this day, that God gave us our son to save our lives.  We were blessed beyond our due, and everything began to change.  It wasn’t overnight.  It takes a long time to undo 7 years of issues.  But, our marriage has changed 180 degrees.   And it is also not a coincidence that the first time I asked Mark to go back to church, he said “yes, I think I would like that.”  I about fell over dead.   Did you just actually just say “you think you would like it”?   You know I said church, right?  It’s the place where they sing and pray about God and you lovingly refer to one of the pastors as “the money man.”  This is the place you just said you would “like to go”? 

But alas, that is what he said, and we went.  And then when we actually went to church, for the first time in probably 9 years, the sermon was on the exact topic that had almost ended our marriage.   I thought, is this for real?  Did someone know we were coming?  Yeah, Someone did know we were coming.  These are not coincidences.  They are the hand of God in our marriage and our lives and I just can’t say how grateful I am. 

Now, instead of being a negative number, we are definitely in the positives.   Most of the time I would say around a positive 5, 6 or 7.  Pretty good!  But, I don’t ever want to go back to where we were if I can help it. 

So, today’s challenge was to Invest in my Marriage and the way we are doing this is by attending a Christian marriage seminar called Love and Respect.  Let’s talk about this for a minute. 

If we get marital advice or information, where do get most of it?  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say women, for the most part, get their advice from their friends, women’s magazines, self-help books, and talk shows.  And men, I’m going to take a wild guess, that they don’t actually get any marital advice anywhere.  I know my husband isn’t sitting in the Dr’s office reading an article about how to communicate better.  Right?  Is either of these tactics working?  Clearly, no.  As a society we are constantly looking to the wrong people and the wrong places for answers.  Who cares what Brad Pitt thinks about marriage or some woman we don’t even know writes in a magazine?  Most of the time it is just their opinion and human opinions, if you haven’t figured this out yet, are often really flawed.  Why wouldn’t we look to God and his word, the creator of man and woman, the creator of marriage, for advice and help in our marriage?  Doesn’t that make sense?

It does to me.  But what makes this something out of my comfort zone is that signing up for a marriage seminar is a funny thing, isn’t it?  1.  As a woman, you think this is a good idea, but you know your husband, even if he values your marriage, would rather do just about anything than attend this seminar.  2.  Upon signing up, I secretly hope the message will be that I am perfect and the husband has some work to do, but secretly I know, this is not the case and not what the message will be.  3.  You have to commit a little time to this.  If you know us, you know we work a lot.  We work lots of weekends, lots of hours, weird hours and we have young children.  There is not a lot of us time and there is not a lot of time on the weekends.  So, to sign up and give a day and a half is a big thing for us. 

Our marriage is important.   I have it as my second priority in life, right below God.  It deserves a little, ok a lot, more investment than we have given it until now.