Today a couple friends came over to spend the day with me – helped me piece together a quilt for my baby grandson. It’s been a long time since I sat in a kitchen, barefoot on tile floor, adult conversation moving through the hours of a morning. The topic we happened upon – What’s wrong with living together as a next step for a couple that is moving toward marriage? The topic wasn’t the expanded version of people living the wild life. It was all about committed Christian adults who truly believe it’s best to first get to know someone, date, and as a next step, move in before marriage. And why doing so might or might not be the best idea. Scriptures were discussed, the ‘one-flesh’ and ‘the break up would be a divorce’ ideas, hypotheticals, stories of heartbreak and stories of those who seemed to have made it work, and talk of our fears.
After all the ideas turned and turned again, I thought to myself “A trial run wouldn’t have worked for my husband and I because it would have taken all the years of our lives to get a realistic representation of what we’d be getting into.”
Because no two years – no two days have been just alike.
Because every time I think I know him, he’s someone new.
Because I’ve changed too.
Because what cuts me deep one season is what I desire most the next.
Because anything we set up long ago has gone along the wayside and been replaced 100 times over by the current needs of life.
Because our goals and dreams have changed.
Because it doesn’t really matter what use to be, what is now is what we’re dealing with.
Because kids have changed us.
Because jobs have changed us.
Because changing a church has changed us.
Because having cancer once and then twice has changed everything all over again.
Some seasons in the game of life we’ve been top of the world.
Others seasons we’ve been giant losers
– just trying to make it through the day.
A trial run would not have helped us to know if we could stay together and hold a lasting love, because we would need to have given our love a spin for about an eternity to know for sure, which is why we said I do. That’s what the promise for us was about. Deciding he would be the one I’d take the lifetime chance on. And I’d be his roll of the dice.
It has not been easy. Because I’m not an easy person to predict, and neither is he. That’s the problem about marriage. Who knows how to maneuver unless we know what to expect. The year we fell in love, if someone had told me I’d better live with him to discover that he stomps around in the kitchen and slams things down loud when he’s mad, I’d have to tell them that it wouldn’t be a fair trial as a few years later he found his voice at which time I wished he’d start stomping again and stop talking! If they’d told me living together would help me understand his struggles with God, and how that would affect our kids, I’d have to tell them that just as I have grown, so has he, and that our kids seem to have outdone us on their love for Jesus despite our struggles. If they told us I better try him out to know more about the way he’d adore me one day and despise me the next and that I had found myself a moody man, I’d have to say nothing has changed in this department, and probably never will. Moving in would not have helped me. I knew when I said “I do” that I was marrying one part sweetheart, one part demon, and eight-parts kitchen table. In the end, who would I have married that could have made my life as full and interesting and good as the one I rolled the dice for? And how would trying out one after another help me find a better man?
I know that if I go out and lease a brand new Suburb, I’ll love everything about it for the first little while because the engine hasn’t yet frozen up – 350 miles from home. The door handle hasn’t fallen off in my hand. The seats haven’t yet cracked and cut into my leg. The frame hasn’t morphed and wobbled down the washboard road.
The heartbreaking problems that have caused the most pain in this marriage didn’t show up for 15 years, and nearly tore us apart. They would not have shown up in a 14 year trial. That would mean that trying our relationship out for 14 years would have not provided either one of us security.
Take your time.
Big Issues will usually show themselves even when not under the same roof.
But some things don’t show up for years.
What has pulled us from the brink has not been a guarantee of a predictable soul-mate, but a guarantee from God. God will never leave us or forsake us. We call on GOD and HE will show us great and mighty things. The Lord will take our hearts of stone and turn them to hearts of flesh. God is the reason we are still together. This one thing we’ve done right in our marriage. Turn again to God when hopelessness suffocates our functioning. When I took a gamble and choose my husband, I was betting on GOD to get us through. The Scripture says to not be unequally yoked. That one’s a biggie, and we didn’t do that perfectly either, as a person can fake their love for God. I think in some ways we were unequally yoked most of our marriage, but because there was a willingness for both of us to turn to God in tough times (“Will you pray with me?” says one enemy to another. “OK” says the hated one), we continued to become more closely yoked then we had been before. For all the horrid things I know about my husband, and he knows about me, I would still choose him over any other person on the planet, and I’m pretty sure he’d say the same of me. Most days:)