On August 3rd my husband Noah and I celebrated eight years of marriage and I must say that the time is flying by faster than I can type these words. August 3rd is special date for us, but my husband and I were so in love we actually got married twice! In 2007, my husband and I gathered with immediate family and then, again, five months later, after moving across country, we celebrated with all our friends and extended family. It was a Cinderella wedding and everything about it was perfect. However, as year one rolled around, we kept hearing people say that this was “the honeymoon phase” and to be honest, that really worried me about what that meant for the future because our first few years were far from bliss. You see, my husband and I are both type A personalities and this meant our early years of marriage were marked by arguments as we tried to find balance. While I am very thankful that Noah has always valued open communication (which has saved our marriage every day since “I Do”), I wish someone had told me that each year gets stronger when you work together on a common vision instead of making the “blissful” years seem like they should take place when you are just newlyweds. Therefore, while I have written hundreds of articles on faith (both here and on my blog at DairaCurran.com), this is my first article on marriage. I know I still have a long way to go and I am by no means an expert, but I want to share what has made my marriage rock solid and how faith must be center of it all in order for it to truly last a lifetime.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is often the most beloved and read Scripture at weddings. It reads like a well-crafted Hallmark card and is so overused that often we go on autopilot when we hear it (like an overemphasized worship song that no longer captures us). In fact, these words, roll too easily off our tongues,
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
The truth of the matter is, when we use this Scripture as a sounding board for our marriage, but forget to model Christ’s love for us as extended towards our spouse , we fail every time.
Now, I have to take a second and brag on Noah. He is a true example of what it means to put my needs above his own (just like how Christ sees His bride, the Church). Yet, with this being said, we all must understand that love is not like the movies and it requires constant work. I believe that the work is not to maintain the “status quo,” but to be what God intended for a godly partnership. Therefore, I want to encourage and speak truth to you through these verses:
“Love is patient and kind.”
This first sentence provides a mouthful. I wish that instead of reading this and skimming the surface, I had focused on what patience looks like. This very line tells us that the honeymoon years may be short-lived, but patience is a part of discovering the depth of love. Patience means that every piece does not fall into place on day one, year one, or a decade in – patience means learning to endure in all seasons just like Christ waits for us. Does Christ wait to love us until we are all He has made us to be, cheapening His love while we are in progress? No, love is not only patient, it is kind because kindness will cover our flaws with genuine care. In fact, a family friend came up to us at our reception and said a few words that at the time seemed bizarre, but it stuck with me and provided tremendous comfort during rocky roads. He said, “Sometimes the two of you will have to be more committed to the vow you took of marriage than you are to the person.” This seemed strange to me because I didn’t marry a vow – I married a man that I love. Yet, now, I truly understand what he meant. Love is patient and because people are often not patient, we must remember to honor God with our covenant even when we don’t see eye to eye with our spouse.
“Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.”
It seems bizarre to be jealous of your spouse. Yet, I think sometimes we are, even if we don’t label it “envy.” We may be jealous of how they spend their time, talents, or treasures and this is a tragedy. The reality is God sees oneness when He looks at your marriage. While we may be busy complaining, saying things like: “Want to trade places?” “You think your day is busy, you couldn’t do mine for a week!” or “Easy for you to say….(fill in the blank).” And, when we lash out in bitterness or superiority we forget that this is not how God does relationship with us, even though we always fall short too. God is love and we are called to be this image towards our spouse.
“Love does not insist on its own way.”
One of the best parts of my marriage is that we are truly a team. Often times I see couples lose this valuable gift. They get caught up in their careers and kids, losing what it means to have a common vision – a reason for God making two hearts one. I am very, very, blessed that Noah and I have made this a priority in our lives – to do ministry and life as a team. What does this have to do with not insisting on one’s own way? I think it has everything to do with this phrase. When we play for ourselves, instead of our team (our marriage), we turn our life into something we INDIVIDUALLY can be proud – not something we can be proud of as a family. There can be so much hidden resentment with our partner when we become more about our agenda than what God is doing in and through our marriage. Love does not look like a one man show. Does this mean that Noah and I do everything together? It actually does. While we are not joined at the hip, we consider each other in every decision we make. This means that even in the small things, like how we spend our Saturdays, we have to factor in “us” and not merely “me.” If this sounds like work, it is, but I can honestly say that when you get into the habit of doing things in one mind, instead of on your own, your marriage is beautiful and catches the eye of onlookers.
“Love is not irritable or resentful.”
When I think of this statement, I think of how young, naïve, teens see love. Youth wants to believe in the movie-like love that is written by screen-writers. Yet, broken marriages and angry people make this balloon pop pretty quickly. Marriage is truly not as easy as a great one-liner and marriage is not supposed to be about ill-tempers and built-up resentment. Love is supposed to look like freedom together. This is the picture Jesus paints on the cross. As He sacrificed for us, He didn’t hold our offenses, but instead, He bore our burdens and gave us more. Love might not be a fairy-tale, but it has to strive for wholeness. And, in doign so, wholeness and freedom cannot happen without first letting go of our anger.
“Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
Thankfully, God does not hold a tally of our wrongdoings. However, how many of us keep a tally when it comes to our spouse? We think that by remembering what makes them flawed we are not also in the wrong. And, looking at our partner’s wrongdoings without a goal of helping to make positive change for their sake is literally useless. Truth seeks to let us live a life that others want. When we look to live a truthful life with our spouse, we let go of offenses and strive towards making things right. We can’t do this alone – we are broken people in a broken world. Yet, God embodies perfect truth and by allowing Him to literally cover your marriage, you soak up some of that – allowing forgiveness to heal, wrongdoings to be met with second chances, and truth to prosper in love.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”
This is the best possible conclusion to any ongoing love story. Love looks like Christ. It covers, bears, believes, hopes and endures. It is a continual journey, not a one-time affair. True love is not about a person, it is about a commitment. I believe that when God looked at us and said “very good,” much like a beautiful bride dressed in white, He committed to us forever even knowing the pain and joy we would cause Him. This is love. I find love with Noah just as much when we argue as when we have a perfect date night. Love can handle messiness. Love can mend, even when we break it. Why? Because if love wasn’t part of our capacity and vocabulary, God wouldn’t have made us to be like Him. While this is a tall order to live up to, and I realize that for some who have had marriages shatter this seems like a painful pill to swallow, I truly believe that these verses found in 1 Corinthians are made to be a personal reflection on how we can overcome what hinders us from loving fully. I am still learning each day what this means, but my hope for you (and for myself) is that we never separate love from the idea of marriage. Why? Because Christ loves us enough to call us His bride and it is this truth and this kind of love that is worth living for and worth sharing with our spouse…forever.