She was such a sweet lady– soft-spoken, kind, and genteel. A pastor’s wife. A long time friend of my husband’s family, I got to know her better when I was a young mother and we moved into a house near hers. She and her husband, both now retired, had not been blessed with children, but she doted on mine and became a mentor to me for the short time we lived there.
I always admired the way she and her husband related to each other, and I’ll never forget the day she told me, “You know, in fifty years of marriage, we have never raised our voices at each other.”
Well. That was a punch in the gut.
She might as well have handed me a Marriage Report Card with a big fat red “F” on it. Because I’d raised my voice at my husband plenty of times (and he to me), and at that point we had only been married about eight years.
Was my marriage doomed to failure? Why didn’t my husband and I have the perfect relationship this couple had? We were in the ministry, too. Shouldn’t we have a completely peace-filled home with nary a yell or an argument to be heard?
I’ve thought about this dear lady’s statement many times over the years. Maybe she just had a bad memory. Or maybe her definition of raising one’s voice and mine weren’t the same. And, though she was honest as the day is long, I even considered for a microsecond that she might have been stretching the truth.
But maybe what she said really was true. Maybe she and her husband really HADN’T ever raised their voices.
And you know what? So what.
That doesn’t mean they had a perfect marriage. Because nobody does.
It’s easy to look at couples you’re friends with, or couples at church, or those “get a room, already” couples on Facebook, and think they’ve got it all together. They never argue. He’s always adoring. She’s always affirming.
Underneath what looks like “perfect” is complaining or disrespect or lust or manipulation or undermining of authority or rudeness or financial problems or resentment or inattentiveness or…or…or…
Every couple struggles with something(s) in their marriage, because every marriage starts with the same components: two sinful, broken people. No matter how great and godly our upbringing or how long we’ve been saved, that sinful nature is still lurking beneath the surface, just waiting for someone to cross it.
I want my way. And so does he.
I think I’m right. And so does he.
Eventually, no matter how nice and kind and loving we are, the ugly comes out.
And, believe it or not, that’s good news for our growth in Christ.
Have you ever picked up a freshly split chunk of wood? It’s a far cry from a lovely mahogany dining room table, isn’t it? What transforms that splintery lumber into a gorgeous piece of furniture? A lot of work by a master craftsman. And it’s not always a pleasant process for the wood. It involves lots and lots of sanding. Coarse grit rubbing against stubborn, prickly timber.
That’s what marriage is often like– two rough people rubbing each other the wrong way. And as we do, God gives us opportunities to
and take up our crosses, follow Him, and become more like Jesus through the whole messy, uncomfortable process.
So when you see those “perfect” couples, learn from what they’re doing well, but don’t put pressure on your marriage or your spouse to measure up to a standard that doesn’t even exist.
Because nobody’s perfect.
*I’ve just been informed that the picture in my article, American Gothic, is a father and his spinster daughter, not a husband and wife. Apparently, she’s got a great relationship with her dad and has come to him for marital advice. He’s read my article and is giving her the wise counsel to stop expecting every man she dates to be flawless, because “nobody’s perfect”.
Yeah, let’s go with that :0)
See, perfect example of how nobody’s perfect! Thanks to our awesome readers who helped me learn something new today by letting me know!
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