We are all really busy with life. It looks different for each of us depending on what stage of life we are in. Some of us are taking care of little kids, others are taking care of aging parents. Some of us are consumed with school, others work. We also know it’s often a challenge to find the time to focus on your marriage. So, we want to help you with that. We’ll post articles, videos, and audio here to help you strengthen your marriage.
by Wayne Grant, M.D.
I have never attended the perfect wedding. In spite of all the careful planning, something is bound to go wrong with every wedding—something unexpected, maybe irritating, but usually of little consequence. It is enough, however, to mar the aura of perfection that every couple desperately hopes for. At a recent wedding, the florist dropped the bridal bouquet with only 7 minutes to make repairs. At a friend’s wedding, an usher turned over a candelabra with a noisy crash. Another couple spent a year carefully planning a lovely outdoor wedding. Indeed, the rain came but just as the couple were saying their final vows.
Well, the wedding may not be perfect but certainly the marriage will be! All too often, as the guests walk out of the church, someone will inevitably be heard saying, “They are such a perfect couple. They are made for each other.” This guest voicing what every couple knows— all will be perfect—perfect mates, perfect relationship. Yes, simply, the perfect marriage.
“Hold it! Not so fast,” reality shouts, “I am here to tell you that there are no perfect relationships, no perfect mates, no perfect couple—simply no perfect marriages because there are no perfect people.” Yes, every marriage is the joining together of two imperfect people who may find themselves incompatible at many points. Some couples take this reality in stride learning to adapt, to tolerate, to grow, if not into perfection, into lasting love. For others, the lack of perfection in their mates and in their relationship seriously taxes their coping skills.
But any successful couple will tell you that the real joy of marriage is the journey of loving each other and growing in grace toward each other. This growing into a vital, successful marriage involves honesty and hard work. But that is O.K. Perfection is not the goal of the wedding or the marriage. The goal is a dynamic relationship that nurtures healthy growth in both partners. Because of the reality of sin, every marriage has difficult moments.
Any couple can forget perfection and sense growth by considering these steps:
- Admit from the start that there is no such thing as perfection in marriage—yours or any other marriage. Accepting this truth at the beginning is a giant first step.
- Realizing that neither you nor your mate is perfect. Look for, and focus on your mate’s good points. Each of us is composed of good and bad traits, likeable and unlikeable behaviors, pleasant and unpleasant habits. Give your mate the benefit of the doubt. Disappointment and a lack of respect are often birthed out of unrealistic expectations. It’s not fair to compare your marriage to something you’ve seen in a movie or read about in a novel.
- Be willing to change and to grow in those areas where you, yourself, are not perfect. As Paul writes in Philippians: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
- Ask God to help you to see your imperfections and ask God to change you (not your mate). Jesus said it so clearly: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:41-42).
- Be willing to learn and grow together. Let your marriage be a joint venture of becoming what God designed you to be. Focus on your love for each other. Practice what Paul wrote: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
As award winning author, Gary Thomas states, “We confront different trials, different temptations, and different struggles—but each one of us faces the same reality: living as imperfect people, in an imperfect world, with an imperfect spouse. Learning to love, appreciate, and to be thankful for that imperfect spouse is one of the most soul-transforming things you can do. It’s not an easy journey, but it’s a profitable one, and I urge you to remain committed to it today.”
Regardless of whether you’ve been married for less than one year or over 50 years, there is one constant challenge facing every couple—to connect. MarriedPeople Monthly is a monthly, mush-free email full of ideas and insights that spark great conversation and help you laugh. You’ll find plenty of go-and-do’s that you can actually go and do. You will be encouraged, we promise.