Marriage has been a topic heavy on my mind of late, mostly, I suppose, because I’ve been hearing a lot of marriage-related teachings. It’s funny how things you apparently need to hear have a way of coming up all over the place….
If I could sum up all of what I’ve been learning about marriage, it’s this: that the marriage relationship does not call for—nor benefit from—complacency. Can a marriage survive on complacency? Quite possibly. It might even be largely enjoyable. But with continual hard work and purposeful effort, it can thrive and grow to beautiful depths we don’t even know.
As Travis and I were moving through our first year of marriage 7+ years ago, I remember older couples jesting with us that we would soon be newlyweds no longer. My hopeful response to those people was always that I wanted for us to be “newlyweds” forever. I had no intention of us losing that spark which typifies young love.
But then life happened. We had four kids under four—plus a miscarriage—in under four years of marriage; and, right or wrong, we naturally let our “newlywed-ness” take a back seat to that which was more demanding of our time and effort: raising babies.
I don’t think we really knew that we were letting marriage become a facet of parenthood (instead of the other way around); but as you fellow moms know, parenthood—especially in its first years—is all-consuming and tends to leave us lacking the energy that our marriages still need in spite of (and in light of) it all.
And if I’m to be honest, this is a struggle that I continue to have. I still struggle with finding the capacity to be both the best mom I can be AND the best wife I can be. My self-saving tendency is to move the latter down the priority list, taking for granted that my gracious husband will be understanding of the fact that sometimes “something’s gotta give.”
Travis and I were recently privileged to attend a marriage retreat put on by our church with featured speaker Phil Downer of DNA Ministries. We weren’t necessarily there to “work on” our relationship but simply to learn. Travis and I both desire to have a marriage that is everything marriage is meant to be, and we both have teachable hearts to that end.
Through Phil Downer, my heart was taught. It was taught that there is something we need to “work on” after all: our marriage. If we want our marriage to be always growing, then we have to WORK on it… because complacency isn’t going to take us anywhere. Our marriage will survive. It will probably even be largely enjoyable. But it will never be all that it can be without the hard work and purposeful effort that most any good thing requires.
And even more purposeful does the effort have to be when motherhood is in the mix. I still haven’t figured out just how to be both the best mom I can be AND the best wife I can be all at the same time. But the great thing about life is that learning and growing happens all along the way.
I’m not “there” yet (in any facet of life), but I don’t have to be; because as long as I’m not complacent, there’s no end to where I can “go.”