I still do! In our fourteen years of marriage, Doug and I credit three things for our happiness:
- Prayer—out loud, together. This helps us remember who the enemy is. (Hint: it’s not your spouse.)
- Date nights—we have a standing date each week on the calendar. If someone asks us to do something during that time, we truthfully say we have a prior commitment scheduled.
- Marriage conferences—conferences are my favorite! Attending one with my husband makes it even better. We always learn something helpful.
Last month we attended a simulcast I Still Do conference by Dennis Rainey’s Family Life Today. In his talk, Dennis noted that he and his wife Barbara had been married for forty years, but still had fights from time to time.
Still fighting after forty years? I assumed it would get easier after the first twenty. Apparently not. Marriage is just flat out hard work, no matter how long you stick with it.
When we naively stood at the altar almost fifteen years ago, Doug and I had no idea what “one flesh” meant. He certainly didn’t anticipate the harrowing tunnel I’d have to travel at the beginning of 2014, or the long road back to intimacy after I dealt with memories of sexual abuse.
In a marriage, every detail that affects one spouse profoundly affects the other, even if those issues are buried deep in the subconscious. As a wife, I had little ability to relate to my husband during those dark months. It was as if I’d reverted back to the powerless little girl I was in the seventies and eighties.
I’m blessed to have a husband with enormous amounts of patience and dogged determination to have a healthy marriage. I can’t imagine what those months must have been like for him, how confusing my behavior was. But I’m extremely grateful that he stuck it out.
Though I wouldn’t wish that sort of pain on anyone, here’s the silver lining—I am now a better wife having realized my worth as a person created in God’s image.
If, underneath a polished exterior, one believes that God loves everyone else but them and that revealing their true selves would invite sure rejection, eventually the veneer crumbles. A false view of oneself as worthless becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
While God continues to do the miraculous healing He started a couple years ago, I’ve realized that I’m no longer that powerless little girl. Every choice I make has the power to improve our marriage even more. The assurance that I’m God’s priceless treasure empowers me to forsake my supposed pre-destined failure and embrace my identity as a wife through His eyes.
Paul prays for us in Ephesians 3 that we “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
It’s this knowledge, Paul goes on to say, that God can do “more than we could ever ask or imagine.”
I won’t say our marriage got easier, but I can say that the better we grasp how magnanimous God’s love is for us, the more power we have to minister to our spouse, and the more we can create a deeper, abiding intimacy.
It’s arduous. Even painful at times. One flesh means when he hurts, I hurt, and vice versa. There is no stagnancy. We’re either growing in intimacy or growing apart. Each new day is an opportunity to say “I still do.”
Please continue the discussion in the comments! If you’re married, have you struggled in your marriage because of a false view of how God looks at you? If you’re single, has a false view negatively impacted your relationships?