“Once upon a time there were two countries, at war with each other. In order to make peace after many years of conflict, they decided to build a bridge across the ocean.
But because they never learned each other’s language properly, they could never agree on the details, so the two halves of the bridge they started to build never met.
To this day the bridge extends far into the ocean from both sides, and simply ends half way, miles in the wrong direction from the meeting point.
And the two countries are still at war.”
-Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
My husband and I are not at war, in fact, I would say that our marriage is flourishing. In the same breath, I could also say we have been sitting on the same hill for some time. A place where routine trumps passion, schedules override intentionality, and matter-of-fact capitalizes feelings.
But here’s a thought that I’m pondering:
Could it be that war need not be the failing of all marriages, rather the inability to build appropriate bridges?
Could it be that we included things in our New Year’s Resolutions such as losing weight and getting more organized while leaving out some of the most important people in our lives – our spouses?
It came to me as an actual “aha” moment; that my New Year’s resolutions were lacking in some very specific areas. My husband is a quality time guy and nowhere in my list did I include “create more quality time with Michael.” Additionally, he is a lover of words. He flourishes alongside affirmation. And to be honest, I was too tired, even for words.
And as a Christian woman, God has called me to love my husband well.
It can be said that I routinely provide for us. I go to three grocery stores to stay in budget each week. I keep our family’s schedule on a calendar hanging in our kitchen. We matter-of-factly discuss it each evening so we can “tackle” the day and be the family that does everything.
Because appearance is everything, isn’t it?
The enemy is quite devious.
This “routine/schedule/matter-of-fact living” had become what the world tells me about marriage. As a woman, the world silently feeds me meal after meal about what a marriage can look like after the honeymoon phase is long gone.
That the spark, the romance, the passion even can cease.
And you can merely survive.
Stop kissing him when he comes home. Stop making time for him and his needs. Because we are women and we are strong. Feminism and girl power! Who needs to kiss their man when he comes into the house? The 1950s are dead. (Insert all the praise hands here.) Because really, what gives? Recently I heard a radio spot that if he watches porn, it’s no big deal. At least he is getting something. You are tired, after all. And if he is flirting with the other girl in the office, he is still coming home to you.
My heart broke into a million pieces. Shattered.
And it doesn’t end there. The world tells me I can complain about my man over coffee and a muffin. In fact, isn’t it fun? To whine and whimper about all he isn’t doing? Oh but, so-and-so’s husband on social media got her flowers. Can you believe it? Flowers? I wish I would get flowers…
Or maybe none of these apply to you, so how about this? What happens when he is sitting on the couch and you are in the kitchen busying yourself with some (unnecessary) task and all you can think is…
“Get up, stop being so lazy, of course I’m still working, Sheesh. Can’t you do anything?”
This isn’t called servanthood. This is called resentment.
They are different animals. Be careful.
Because confusing these leaves us tangled, and unweaving the knots only gets more difficult over time.
In my lifetime, I have watched and am watching marriages stay together simply for the sake of not breaking the home, the kids and the finances that have been built between two people, rather than watching two people sit and make time to build together. Because it is sacred and conscious work to build bridges.
Emphasis: hard work.
And humans everywhere, we were made for hard work.
In order to look at marriage through the lens of the gospel, it seems God started out creating marriage with bridges in mind:
“He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,’ and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
The Holy Word tells us there is beauty in joining together. God made us so that we would constantly be working at this bridge-building. Not just for the first year or third. But for the thirteenth and the thirtieth.
Dear friend, it isn’t too late for us. We can still build bridges if we have the land (two humans) and the capacity (two hearts and minds) to build. Take some time to evaluate these questions and create some new “new year’s resolutions” with me.
Questions to evaluate:
- When was the last time you asked your husband how you could best support him?
- Can you remember when you used your words to say thank you for what he does for his family?
- Do you know how your guy receives love the best? Do you happen to know his love language? If so, what is it?
- Do you stop to kiss him, tell you that you love him, and that you want to learn to love him better? Better yet, do you even know what turns your guy on? Just because he is a Christian doesn’t mean he is void of feeling “turned on…”
- Finally, do you pencil this in to your priorities — to love your guy — the way he receives love best?
Now, we will fail this. Let me simply free you from being the perfect wife. But because perfection is what has been given to you through Jesus, you can pursue your man as best you can, constantly asking the Holy Spirit to equip you.
It may be January 19th, and it could seem silly to think about building bridges at this point in your marriage, but knowing God never gives up on us should give us the gumption to keep building. Because once built, imagine the places you could go together.
PS I understand some of you can’t resonate here. You are either a) single. To that I say, celebrate your singleness and praise God in it. Ask Him to take you where He wants to and pray for a man to rise up as a spiritual leader for you. Or b) your guy is not a believer. To that I reply, love him fiercely. Encourage him daily. And if you don’t receve anything back, let Jesus be your well of affection. He wants to be that for you. And keep praying. Pray like mad. Or c) You are divorced and words like “marriage” are still tender for you. Keep pursuing Christ. We are His bride, after all.