I know the heart-ripping hopelessness of a relationship unraveling. The coexisting. The silent tension. The tears.
The first five years of my marriage were really hard. Two sinners coming together with loads of baggage, unrealistic expectations, and extremely strong wills.
There was yelling. There was the silent treatment. There were doors slammed. There was bitterness. There was a contemplation of calling it quits. There was this sinking feeling that things would never, could never get better. That’s when I first started hearing the 3 lies:
- I married the wrong person.
- He should make me feel loved.
- There is someone else better out there.
I believed those lies. They started to weave a tangled web of confusion in my heart. All I could see was all that was wrong with him. I became so blind to his good. I became so blind to my not so good.
And I wasn’t shy about sharing my frustrations about the whole situation with my friends.
Many nodded their head in agreement with me, making me feel ever so justified. But one didn’t. She said, “I know what you think. But what does the Bible say?”
Ugghhhh. The Bible? I didn’t think her “religious suggestion” would help me. But over the next couple of days, I kept hearing her question about looking into the Bible replaying over and over in my mind.
Reluctantly and with great skepticism, I tried it one afternoon. I turned to a couple of verses she suggested including 1 Corinthians 13. As I read the list of everything love is supposed to be, I got discouraged. My love didn’t feel kind, patient, or persevering. The love in my marriage felt broken.
I closed the Bible. It didn’t seem to do anything but make me feel worse. So much for that.
Then a few days later I heard an interview on a Christian radio station where a couple was talking about these same verses. I wanted to gag and turn the station. What do they know about how hard love can be? That’s when they said a statement that grabbed me, “Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision.”
I went home and flipped to 1 Corinthians 13 again. This time instead of reading it like a list of what love should make me feel, I read it as if I could decide to make my love fit these qualities. My love will be kind. My love will be patient. My love will persevere. Not because I feel it — but because I choose it.
At the same time God was working on my husband’s heart as well. We decided to make some 1 Corinthians 13 love decisions. Slowly, the cold stone wall between us started to come down.
It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t overnight. But slowly our attitudes and our actions toward one another changed. And I stopped believing the marriage lies and replaced them with 3 marriage truths:
- Having a good marriage is more about being the right partner than having the right partner.
- Love is a decision.
- The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water and fertilize it.
Maybe you’ve heard the marriage lies before. My heart aches for you if you are in a hard place in your marriage. And believe me, I know tough relationships are stinkin’ complicated and way beyond what a simple blog post can possibly untangle. But maybe something I’ve said today can help loosen one knot… or at least breathe a little hope into your life today.
I know marriage pain and I know marriage redemption. Building a bridge between those two realities isn’t easy but it is possible.
Our bridge was the culmination of a lot of little love decisions. Like the one I saw my husband make yesterday when I left my workout clothes in a pile on the floor in my bathroom.
This used to be such an aggravation to my man… me and my messes.
But look what I found when I got home… a love decision.
What love decision might you make today? Let me know in the comments below.