The Gumption to stick it out....
Because a marriage, however imperfect, isn't just important in the happy moments of life - a child's graduation or wedding for example - but also in the bad times.
~Jane Gordon in Why I regret my divorce
It was a cold December day and I was walking Lucky, our small pekingese, around the grass surrounding our apartment complex. In one hand I held his leash and with the other I wielded my cell phone, crying and bantering on about yet another fight with my husband. We'd just been married a few months prior and life wasn't turning out so "happily ever after." On the opposite end of the phone my friend did the "uh huhs..." and "hmmms" sympathetically, trying to calm me down, but almost without any warning came the next few words, Why don't you just divorce him? She had a point. We'd done nothing but fight since the first few minutes after the ceremony. Wasn't marraige supposed to be easy, wasn't there at least supposed to be a honeymoon period? Where was my happily ever after? Where was my prince charming?
I hate admitting that I've thought about divorce, about a million times to be exact, but each time I push the D word from my mind. It isn't that I'm scared, or fear a life on my own, or think that I have to settle. No, it's much more than that. It's about love, true love, and true unconditional love comes at the price of a covenant. When I played wedding with my Barbie's, never did I imagine the preacher say, "until death do you part, or until you get tired of his bad habits, irritations, irrational actions, and problems," and never did I imagine the preacher turning to my pretend husband and saying "do you take this woman to be your wife, to have and to hold, until it just doesn't work for you anymore." No! I imagined a man who would love me unconditionally, beautiful or ugly, frantic or peaceful, put together or a mess. I imagined a union in which we did life together because we wanted to, even when our lives weren't perfect, even when we weren't perfect.
The problem with modern culture is that it teaches us that there is a holy grail of marriage. There is a perfect partner! There is a "man of your dreams," and he's going to be all you wanted and more. Culture preaches that this, this perfect man (or woman), he'll bring you unlimited happiness, and that to settle for anything less is a disservice. Look, if the perfect man did exist, don't you think someone somewhere would have found him by now? And if the perfect woman did exist, don't you think that we'd have seen her? Modern culture teaches us to look for happiness everywhere but where it really comes from.
Lori Gottlieb recently wrote a book called Marry Him: A case for settling for Mr. Good Enough. I had to chuckle. Her book had the right idea in a way because it admitted that marriage wasn't just about someone meeting your needs %100 of the time, but there's one huge flaw in the title. We're all Mr. and Mrs. Good Enough's, because there is no Mr. or Mrs. Perfect! No living human who is or ever has been can meet our needs completely, and nobody can be perfect or even close to it %100 of the time. The only Person who possesses all these qualities isn't a person at all, but none other than the Alpha and Omega, the Great "I am". He has unlimited love, unlimited forgiveness, and unlimited resources. That's where our happiness must be dirived from. Any other source will fail us. Our husbands will fail us, our pastors will fail us, our friends will fail us, but He never will.
And I'll tell you a little secret. Once you take those high expectations off the other person, it's so much easier to enjoy each other. When the pressure's off, when the neediness is gone, when both people are getting their full needs met from God, that's a beautiful recipe for love.