Not All Sunshine and Rainbows, Part 4 of Resolution Solutions
Adam and I had a rough first year of our marriage. Sometimes it feels like life can only go up from here. However, that doesn’t mean our marriage now is all sunshine and rainbows. Engaged couples and newlyweds all hear, “Just you wait…” but we all think, “Oh that’d never be me,” or “We’re so in love.” REAL marriage isn’t perfect. REAL marriage isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. REAL marriage takes hard work.
It’s hard to be respectful when you’re being disrespected. Sometimes it’s hard to find time for each other in this busy life. You won’t always feel like loving unconditionally. Some days you’ll feel like plastering a fake smile on your face and telling the world everything’s good, when at home, you’re not doing so hot.
How do you maintain an authentic marriage?
What Authentic Marriage is Not
Authentic marriage isn’t perfection. I am a recovering perfectionist. I’m learning to let go of my control and accept things won’t always be the way I want them to be. Holding yourself or your spouse to a perfect standard is unfair. God alone is perfect. No one else can come close. While you are to work toward a God-glorifying mindset and a Christlike lifestyle, you can’t expect to always be perfect or to have the perfect spouse.
Authentic marriage isn’t “airing your dirty laundry in public.” This doesn’t mean you share every detail of every problem you have with your spouse with everyone. When someone asks you how you’re doing, you don’t need to lie and say “good” if things are dicey between you two, but you shouldn’t unload either. I usually look for a happy medium, no pun intended. Take a deep breath and remember you love your spouse. Check yourself before you speak and say something you’ll regret. Finally, only speak positively about your spouse. Even if we’re having problems, I try to find something honest, but positive to say like, “I’m having a rough day, but I’m grateful for…” or “I’m looking forward to…” And when this isn’t possible, refrain from speaking.
What is Authentic Marriage?
2 Corinthians 8:21 says, “We aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” Authentic marriage is one that is considers the complexities of life and determines how to act genuinely and honorable toward each other in all situations and with all people.
An authentic marriage is one that’s the same at home and out in public. When people make comments about the way we treat each other in public, Adam and I share a knowing smile and hug and say, “If you can’t tell, we’re happily married.” This doesn’t mean that we don’t argue or we don’t have conflict at home, but we don’t put on a front when we’re out with others. We don’t pretend to be something we’re not. We’d be the first to admit we do have issues sometimes, but we strive to love each other at home the same way we love each other in public, and vice versa.
An authentic marriage is grace-filled. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, perfection is defined as “the condition, state, or quality of being free of all from all flaws or defects.” Does that sound achievable? No one will have a perfect marriage because no individual is perfect. This is why Christ came to give us grace – unmerited favor and mercy. If you battle perfectionism like I do, grant yourself grace. It’s okay to make mistakes, even in marriage. I sure haven’t gotten everything right, and never claim to have all the answers.
While you shouldn’t always use the excuse, “Well, I’m not perfect,” or “There’s always grace,” you do need to grant yourself and your spouse grace. Grace isn’t a bandaid. Grace isn’t something to slap on and excuse the sin you’ve done to your spouse or the sin he/she has done to you. Grace says, “What you’ve done has hurt me, yet I chose to forgive you and give you a fresh start with me because I love you.” Grace says, “What I’ve done has hurt you (or has hurt myself), yet I chose to forgive myself because God forgave me.” Grace says, “I release you (or myself) from a standard of perfection.”
An authentic marriage uses frequent communication. I have a communication degree and I still don’t always get it right, but generally communication can solve most marital conflict. Connect with your spouse at least five minutes a day. Use physical touch when talking. Include your spouse in your life. Fill him/her in on what happened at work and home, the positives and negatives alike. Share your thoughts and opinions on what’s going on around you. Let your spouse know when you’re angry, hurt, or upset. Most conflict starts when one or both partners aren’t talking.
An authentic marriage resolves conflict quickly. The rule of thumb is not to go to bed angry. This doesn’t always mean that resolving conflict before sleeping is possible, but it does mean that you should agree to let the issue go for the evening, you remind each other of your love, and you agree on a time to revisit the subject.
An authentic marriage uses honesty and kindness. Be honest about your past with your spouse. This is especially important in premarital counseling. Be honest about your thoughts and opinions of the present. Be honest about your hopes, dreams, and plans for the future. Be honest when your spouse has hurt you, yet be sure to speak the truth in love.
The solution to staying motivated and keeping your resolutions is relationship with God, spouse, and self. This post is Part 4 of the Resolution Solutions series, Priority #3a – REAL Marriage.
Come back next Monday for Part 5 – REAL Love
Related Posts: Don’t Rock the Boat (on fighting fairly), Acknowledge He Isn’t Perfect and You Aren’t Either (letting go of perfectionism), and Let’s Not Talk About It (when it’s better not to communicate)