I (Megan) remember our first year of marriage very well. The passion, the excitement, the newness of it all. Spending every day with the love of my life, being intimate, learning to love each other. I also remember our first year of marriage for other reasons. The fights, the tears, the emotions and the torrent of words I can never take back. Marriage has a way of drawing out the best in you. It also has a way of drawing out the worst. Being fully honest, open and real in marriage is necessary, but it’s oh so very ugly at times.
This can be especially painful when we see and discover things about our spouse and ourselves that we didn’t know were there. This is when our marriages experience death. Not death of the marriage itself but death of perception. Death of what we think marriage should be and what our spouse should be. All strong marriages experience this type of death. This death of perception is often unexpected and painful. Before marriage we thought that our spouse was so great. We were so “in love” that we knew we could handle any punches life threw at us as long as we were together. We just never knew that some of the hardest blows would come from within our marriage.
Marriage reveals many things about who we are and who we married. We see how our spouse resolves conflict differently than we do. We discover who fights dirty. We see just how much sexual past’s affect our present. We come to find out we married an entirely different person than we thought. A different person than we perceived. In fact, we discover, we are different. In these instances it is not our spouse or ourselves that is the problem. It is the perception that is the problem and we need to put it to death. If we fight this type of death our marriage cannot flourish. It cannot grow and thrive.
Blame is often a guttural response. We blame our spouse for lying to us and deceiving us before we were married. Oftentimes this is not the case but we believe it just the same. Seeing the ugliness in someone else often makes us blame them and believe lies. We also blame them for bringing out the worst in us. “I wasn’t this way before we were married!” Yes you were! You just didn’t have someone there all the time to notice it. Our perception of our self changes.
While the pain of this death of perception is fresh we have several choices. We can choose to believe that the person we are married to is not the person we thought they were and we want out. We can choose to recognize their flaws and though we want out we just stay in the marriage anyway. We check out emotionally and mentally though we remain legally married. Or, we can grow through this death and build something better. Something better than we ever imagined or dreamed possible.
Life is a journey. On this journey we learn, mature, grow and yes, change. Change is always the one thing that is constant in life. So, when we come to realize that the person we fell in love with has changed it should be expected. If, however, we have never put to death our perceptions of who we think they should be the change knocks the wind out of our lungs. If we never reconcile the fact that the ugliness we see in our spouse is mixed right up with the good, our marriage will end. It may not end in divorce but it is ended in intimacy, friendship and companionship. All the things that make marriage worth it are stunted because what we want (perceive) and what we seem to have are too different. They cannot work together.
So reader, are you ready to put to death your perceptions and build a better marriage? Are you ready to learn to accept your spouse and dream big dreams for your marriage? We sure hope so. It is not easy, it won’t always happen in the manner or the timing we would prefer but it is the only way to move forward in life.
“(God) allows the hours of destruction for the purpose of building something better in its place. Our part is not to run away from the pain but to walk through the briars and thorns and let Christ teach us how to turn each scratch into positive learning about the depths of God’s love.” – C. John Miller