I love romantic movies —even the syrupy sweet ones with highly unlikely, predictable endings. Fantasy can be fun sometimes. It’s too bad these movies often give off the wrong impression —which is, that all you have to do is fight your way to the altar. And then you’ll both live, “happily ever after.” Sigh… if only it were that easy! And if only you could automatically have a happy marriage. It would be great if the condition of being “happy” could automatically happen in everyone’s marriage! But it just isn’t that simple.
I totally agree with the statement Susan Graham Mathis wrote in her Focus on the Family article, “Marriage on Display”:
“Marriages are not made in heaven. They come in kits and you have to put them together yourself.”
The problem is that too many couples forget that part of the whole marrying thing. There is actually a marriage that comes after the grand, expensive party we call a wedding.
Oh, they acknowledge it, that they can’t wait until they are married. But do they TRULY realize that the party doesn’t continue on for the rest of their lives? We sure didn’t. We made a mess in the beginning of our marriage because of our Fantasy Land naivety.
Happily Ever After
I’m reminded of the book written by Jerry and Judy Schreur titled, When Prince Charming Falls Off His Horse: Keeping the Happily Ever After in Your Marriage. They took the original fairy tale and gave some ending possibilities, beyond the fantasy of the “living happily ever after” fantasy. And then they gave some practical tips to deal with them. It was quite humorous and yet practical. As they wrote (which we found out to be true):
“Prince Charming may be good looking, especially in those cute tights. But he also snores, picks his teeth, and has a hundred other annoying habits. And, if Cinderella is perfectly honest, she’s not so perfect herself. Falling in love can be easy. Getting married perhaps is even easier. But staying happily married is much more difficult.”
It’s that “kit assembly thing” that needs to happen.
I like the idea behind some of their chapter titles in this book. That is because they help you to realize that as romantic as the courtship can be, there is more to sustaining love than that. And as fun as the party (called a wedding) can be, love doesn’t glide on forever if you don’t put some work and intentional effort into it! The fullness of love involves it being lived out as a noun and a verb. It is “a state of being” and that, which we should do for one another.
Hunger for Love and Affection
One of the chapter titles was named, “What Cinderella Really Wanted… Our Hunger for Love and Affection.” Clever, huh? And it’s very true for many, many people who marry. We think our hunger for love and affection will be completely filled once we find our “Prince Charming” or the man finds his “Cinderella.” Nope! “We take all of our past experiences into our marriages.” And for that reason, there is work that needs to be done so it’s sorted out. Then a new future can be built TOGETHER.
Below are some other titles —you can guess the endings. They also point out possible problems in marriages. And if you’re living some of these scenarios, prayerfully, you can eventually work them through with your “Prince Charming” or “Cinderella” and especially with the Lord’s help, to get to a healthier place in your relationship.
Here are the titles:
• Why Prince Charming Is Always Riding in the Woods… Our Need to Rescue Others
• Our Need to Escape (Many people can relate to that one —it’s often the reason many people hop from one relationship to another, one marriage to another, etc…)
• “It Was the Thing to Do”
• When His Kiss No Longer Revives You… Facing the Reality of Boredom and Routine
• The Empty Castle: Dealing with the Loss of Intimacy
• The Prince Next Door: Understanding the Lure of Another
• Cinderella’s Discovery: When He Wasn’t What You Thought He Would Be (with a sequel that should be titled, “Prince Charming’s Discovery: When SHE Wasn’t What You Thought She Would Be Either”)
• Cinderella’s Longings: When He Doesn’t Fill the Hole in Your Soul.
Meeting Each Other’s Needs
That last chapter title reminds me of something Sandra Aldrich once noted. She wrote, “Warning: another human being can’t meet all your needs. The only person who can meet all our needs is the Lord. And He had to die first!”
And that brings me to my last point. Please realize that a good marriage takes hard work, especially in the beginning (middle and ending). As long as you are both breathing, there is work to be done. Some of it will be the fun kind, but other times, not so much.
My husband Steve and I contend that probably the reason we hardly ever fight anymore (although we do have our times) is because we’ve fought about almost everything under the sun. So we’re running out of stuff. 45 years and counting is a great place to be when you’ve put in the work and still do so. We know that no one except for Jesus Christ was/is perfect.
If you’re dealing with some of the above issues, make it your mission to look around this web site and others we recommend. Plus take advantage of the recommended resources to fight the good fight against the problem —not each other. Keep in mind that you’re supposed to be on the same team. You won’t find it all here. But it’s a good start on your journey to “assembling” your marriage. All of this can help you to reveal and reflect the heart of Christ in your marriage.
Healthy Together and Individually
If you don’t have a “Prince Charming” or a “Cinderella” that you’re married to —someone who wants to work by your side, with the Lord’s help, to do what needs to be done, all is not lost. They say that the marriage is only as healthy as the least healthy marriage partner. Make sure you do your part to be the healthiest one.
Consider what Paul Tripp wrote in his book, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage:
“Our desire is that our marriages would be the location of our comfort, ease, and enjoyment. We often have desires no bigger than this. But God’s purpose is that each of our marriages would be a tool for something that is way more miraculous and glorious than our tiny, little, self-focused definition of happiness. He has designed marriage to be one of his most effective and efficient tools of personal holiness. He has designed your marriage to change you.”
Are you allowing God to transform you?
Be Transformed, Not Conformed
Remember the challenge we’re given in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world. But be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I pray this blessing upon all who read this blog:
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will. And may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory for ever and ever.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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