(This post contains an affiliate link.)
For the past week, I’ve been participating in the Love Your Spouse Challenge that’s been trending on Facebook. (Look up #loveyourspousechallenge.) I was tagged by one of my college music friends to participate and was thrilled to do so! With all the negativity in the news and on our newsfeeds, we need something like this now and again – a celebration of love! The premise is to spread the love by posting something about you and your spouse every day for seven days, usually with at least one picture.
However, I think that some people have the wrong idea about love and marriage. (If I may be so blunt.) Some just focus on the “lovey-dovey,” mushy part of marriage. The rest of us then start comparing our messy, everyday lives to the “perfect” stuff that people post on social media. A blogger even posted about how she could not “in good conscience participate in the Love Your Spouse Challenge” because of that.
I believe we can find a happy medium though, which is why I chose to do the challenge in the way I did. Marriage and love are not just about the happy times. Rather, it is more about how we weathered and grew through the tough times. Being a military couple has taught me that more than anything. So rather than post super-cheery, unrealistic acclamations of my love for Mark, I chose to admit the difficult parts.
I posted my thankfulness for Mark supporting me on the path to becoming a nurse. Being married to a nursing student is not easy! I posted about the difficulty of deployments. I posted about how Mark challenges me to get out of my comfort zone. I posted about extended separations due to the military.
What is marriage like anyway?
I wouldn’t describe our marriage as “pretty.” I’m not going to air our dirty laundry here, but every couple has their negative “thing” (or things). There are times we don’t understand each other. There are times that we are selfish. And sometimes I get really ticked off at him! (I’ll be the first to admit that I can be pretty aggravating, too.)
Instead, I would describe our marriage as a work-in-progress. Something that is being formed into true beauty. Life on earth has its struggles. Life on earth will never be perfect. We all feel this, no matter what our faith tradition is. We all have to suffer through trials that are unwelcome and hurtful. They aren’t pleasant, to be sure!
But have you ever thought about what life would be like if we didn’t have a backdrop upon which to place our joys? Would sugar taste sweet if we didn’t know sour? Would muscle grow if it didn’t feel stress? Would the light be bright without darkness? Would happiness mean anything if we didn’t know sorrow?
Helen Keller wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
I’d also like to quote a passage from the book I’m currently reading. It’s called Sacred Spaces and it’s ironic that I’m reading it at the same time of this challenge. It has given me more insight into my military marriage and has moved me to tears at times. The author, Corie Weathers, says:
“What I did not recognize then was the role pain and difficulty play in bringing a couple closer to the ideal God intends for marriage: a marriage that is sacrificial, life changing, intimate, and an expression of His love for us. It is in difficulty that we actually learn how to love each other. In this sweet spot, marriage becomes something powerful.”
So for this seventh and final day of the REAL Love Your Spouse Challenge, I would like to say this:
Mark, thank you for asking me to be your wife. Thank you for inviting me to walk this path together. We’ve had high points and we’ve had low points. We’ve experienced intimacy and separation. We’ve felt love and anger. We’ve seen the good and the hurtful in each other. But even more than those contrasts, we’ve seen the possibilities of working together through sacrificial love. Not love that just “feels good.” Not the “mushy stuff” all the time. Not the fake expectations that modern society pushes on couples. I will continue to love you and challenge you to grow, and I know you will do the same for me. 😃 I love you!