Wednesday, May 6, 2015

To Be or Not To Be... Married.

I saw this picture floating around on Facebook and instantly I felt a sting. I get the point they're trying to make, and I'm guessing it came about with good intentions. But, this quote is wrong on a couple levels.

For one, it is not a proper Dos Equis meme. I do not drink alcohol, but even I understand that when using this picture, you have to begin with, "I don't always..." and then proceed with, "but when I do..."  Come on, now. Show some respect for the guy. Get it right. (Glad that's off my chest. My inner sarcasm just could not get past this drastic error. Still, it is not what prompted me to write this post.)

Now, back to issues that actually matter-
I find myself defending marriage quite often these days, in more ways than one. Frankly, it irks me... but then, it saddens me. I can't help but take it a little personally.

I was married very young. 18 years young, to be exact. To be perfectly transparent, I got a lot of grief from people outside of my church world. "But, Kristi, you haven't even been able to really date." "You poor dear, you're missing out on so much." "You're going to regret not finishing college first." "It's never going to last. You're going to change so much." I heard it all. Of course, part of me was terrified. But, I was taught how to pray and find peace about a situation before just diving in . It came in handy. I had no doubts that I had found the man for me. Although we were young and dumb as they say, we didn't take the subject of marriage lightly at all, and we vowed to make it work no matter what.

And it really hasn't been that difficult a task! That's why this picture irritates me.

I understand that some marriages are rocky. People sadly get bored, or annoyed, maybe even embarrassed, or just flat out disrespectful. Horrible things take place, and I won't dare try to judge any situation that I know nothing about, nor will I try to lump all relationships in the same basket. I am smart enough to know that every single couple is different and they face various circumstances.
But, when marriage is talked about in such a way; when it's likened to a prison sentence... I mean, really? And what about the most overused line for people unwilling to commit... "Marriage is nothing more than a piece of paper." There has never been a falser statement spoken. Then I read another quote that stated, "Marriage, like life, is a constant struggle..." And the most offensive, "Marriage is like being handed a menu and choosing the same thing every day."

Umm, excuse me?

My marriage has been incredible. If I felt like something could be labeled as perfect, I would stick it on the last 8 years of my life. Am I saying that we've never argued or disagreed? Most certainly not. Am I trying to imply that we've only experienced sunshine and roses? Absolutely incorrect. Does this mean that everyday for a full 24 hours I have felt nothing but deep, dreamy admiration for my husband? Big fat no. As much as I love him, as sincerely as I respect him, and although I would consider him the best friend I've ever had, he has bugged me. He's angered me. He's hurt my feelings a little bit before. But you know what? I have plenty of flaws to work on myself. Still, I would compare our marriage to an amazing adventure over a prison sentence any day. People are so quick to allow their current feelings to dictate their desire to be married. The moment the "newness" wears off, they assume they've fallen out of love. The second a disagreement is discovered, they convince themselves it just wasn't meant to be. If they get busy, instead of making time to "date" again, they just decide the spark isn't there and they rush to ignite a new one. Amazing marriages are possible.

The Bible gives some advice on how to achieve peaceful marriages. Wives, respect and submit yourselves to your husbands. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for it. However, our culture completely disregards the beauty of such a union in almost all possible ways.

Women have been so caught up in proving their "equality" with men, that husbands have become so beaten down with disrespect and confused as to what role they're really supposed to fill. I'm sure there will be some females shaking their head in disgust right now, but it's the truth. If we would allow men to feel respected as leaders of the home, they'd be more apt to handle their wives with the gentlest of care. Don't belittle your husband. Don't call him out or humiliate him. If you offer him respect, he will strive to live up to it. Of course, countless men have totally ignored the damaging effect it has on their wives when they partake in pornography and things of that nature. Do you really think she's ok with it simply because it's a "natural" thing. (I'm rolling my eyes here.) It's lust. It's degrading. It's selfish. It's a sign of no self control. Get it together. Treat your woman like she's enough, and she will be.

Marriage is one of the most romantic, sacred things two human beings can experience together, and so many miss out on it... because of pictures like this one. I had a small moment of sheer joy when I read an article stating: "Divorce Rate at All-Time Low..." But, before I even had a chance to fully smile, I finished the sentence, "Marriage Rate Even Lower." To a countless number of folks living in the world today, marriage means nothing. Pre-marital sex is as common as a winter cold. "Shacking-up" is the norm in our society. We tell everyone we love them by date #3. You know it's true. Everyone places too strong an emphasis on the "perfect careers" and building the "perfect life" these days. I understand and support the idea of being responsible and somewhat prepared, but when you strive so much on being independent, the fun of marriage is non-existent. My heart breaks for you.

I would not trade my young marriage for the world. Call me old-fashioned; I will not mind. It's worked for me. We got married when we could only afford the bare necessities. We drove cars that stalled at red lights. We ate a lot of pb and j's. But, as time went on, we were offered promotions, and we celebrated together. Raises came; we applauded each other. We bought new vehicles, and smiled at each other through the rearview mirrors as we drove them home. We purchased our first home together and high-fived each other like crazy. We faced hurts, infertility, and death... but we held each other through it all. Building a life from the ground up with someone causes a bond that will forever be unbreakable. Picking up broken pieces from your life and making them fit perfectly with someone else's shattered reality, intertwines two lives into one amazing puzzle.

I love being a wife. I love having a husband. I adore the fact that out of all the world, when people see Aaron, they look for... me. When I'm out and about, people ask where he is. We just go together... not like cell mates... like Annabel Lee and her admirer. (If you don't know what I'm referencing, please look up Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee" poem.)  Marriage connects two people in a way that will never be matched. The only catch- you have to make it what you want it to be.

We laugh. We cuddle. We've had Nerf gun fights, snow ball fights, and pillow fights. We make fun of each other's dance moves. We decided to pursue weight loss and healthy living together.We call each other on every break. I talk to him about new décor ideas; he tells me about his sweet new fishing spot. We're not just partners, we're buddies. He'll bring a McDonald's coke home to me if I've had a rough day. If he gets overwhelmed at work, I show up with his favorite, Heine Bros. Mocha Iceberg. He's stood outside my door at work in the rain with an  umbrella to walk me to my car. I cook a special breakfast on his big days. He fixes supper if I work late. I could list a million more reasons (easily) why marriage is incredible. It's fun. It's sweet. It's romantic. It can make you feel like the most special person in the entire universe.

All the movies that end with sappy love stories that have girls snotting all over the place... They are my life.

And what's awesome is they can be yours, too.

Don't let the world convince you that marriage means nothing... They are severely mistaking.

It's the best!

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