Thursday, December 8, 2011

4 Years and Reflections on the Purpose of Marriage

Today marks 4 years of wedded bliss reality to my wonderful husband. I told a friend recently that it seems we have been married much longer than just four years, and they said, "That's probably because your marriage has been through a lot in such a short time." Indeed it has, but who can really call marriage "bliss"? It's hard work! When we promised to care for and love each other in sickness and health we didn't expect sickness to come only 11 months after our vows. But God in His loving providence did, and it's only by His grace that our marriage has endured.

My pain affects almost all aspects of our marriage. But the hardest for me is that I often do not feel like a "helper" to my husband. "Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." (Genesis 2:18). Acts of service is probably the way I most like to show love to my husband, but when He is often the one doing the cooking, cleaning, and running errands am I really his "helper"?

I recently ran across an old excerpt from a 1950's high school home economics textbook entitled "How to Be a Good Wife". I was given this in my junior high "economics-type" class.  You can read the full article here but here are a few of the points.

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so that you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.
  • Don't greet him with problems and complaints. Don't complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest that he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.
Wow! It's hard to believe life was ever like this, wasn't it? Chronic pain or not I don't think I know of a wife who arranges their husbands pillow for them! Nonetheless, I would love to be able to serve my husband more.  He always tells me I am still a great "help meet" to him by loving him and I still try to "manage" the household (i.e. bills, lists for errands, pick out recipes or food from the freezer, keep track of my daughter's preschool schedule and pick out her clothes, decide which clothes should be washed when, and make sure the cleaning gets done on a semi-normal basis) even from the couch if need be.

It is hard not to read things like this or even the Proverbs 31 woman and not compare or feel guilty. That is why we must take a step back and focus on the purpose of marriage. It is not ultimately designed just for our enjoyment or even for procreation. Marriage was designed from the beginning to be a picture of Jesus Christ and His covenant with the Church which He purchased through his death and resurrection.
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) "This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:32)
Most get the blessings of intimacy, children, the husband leading, and the wife being a wonderful "helper", but some do not unfortunately because of our fallen world.While our current situation is not what I could have ever dreamed would happen four years ago, I trust that this is God's perfect plan for us and our suffering allows us the opportunity (unfortunately we don't always use it) to glorify God more right now than if life had followed our plan.
"So it is with marriage. It is a momentary gift. It  may last a lifetime or it may be snatched away on the honeymoon. Either way, it is short. It may have many bright days, or it may be covered with clouds. If we make secondary things primary, we will be embittered at the sorrows we must face. But if we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be, no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way. Every one of them will be, not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed. The beauty of the coveant-keeping love between Christ and his church shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it."  John Piper This Momentary Marriage p. 178

I have been blessed with a wonderful husband who is extremely patient, caring, and understanding. He tells me again and again that he would still marry me had he known the suffering our marriage would endure. Our prayer is that the world would see that nothing can sustain us but Christ.

1 comment:

  1. Such a good post! Happy anniversary. It must do your heart worlds of good to hear your husband say he would marry you all over again. It really shows the love of Christ and also the fact that while this disability takes a lot out of you, it does not define you.