We haven't been married that long, so thankfully we haven't done too much damage to our marriage yet. Excluding a few wet bottoms and frightening revelations, things have been pretty peachy. But, the series is still a great way to remain proactive in building, nurturing, protecting, and daily restoring our relationship with each other. Plus, as our pastor said, there's always room for improvement, no matter how good things are.
From my experience, marriage and relationships are an interesting mix of nature and nurture. Here's what I mean. On one hand, things between the husband and I seem to just "work out." Part of the reason I married him is because being happy and enjoying myself around him just comes naturally. Because of who he is -- his personality, temperament, values, life experiences, attitude, good looks -- it's relatively easy for me to love him, get along with him, and make our relationship work. We fit together. It's just how it is.
On the other hand, our relationship also takes, and deserves, nurture -- intentional and deliberate work. I don't want to make marriage sound like a passionless, emotional contract, but sometimes it involves research and homework. I look at marriage as not just an organic experience, but as something I put work into. Marriage is something I try to study, learn about, and practice. I read books and magazine articles on marriage, listen to marriage sermons, and ask advice from people who've been doing the marriage thing successfully for some time. I'd take the same approach to a new career, trying to equip and prepare myself to do my best, so why not do the same for marriage?
I know that I can't prepare myself for all circumstances, and a lot of marriage is about enjoying the ride and learning as you go. Most of the time (at least so far) things have been relatively easy. But when the road gets bumpy, as it's bound to do, I'm thankful that I'll have some wisdom and relationship tools in my back pocket.
With all that being said, back to the topic that prompted the title of this blog post, which was the sermon we heard this Sunday. Which, when compared to the rambling babbles of the previous three paragraphs, is a relatively direct and to-the-point message. (I considered titling this post "Rambling Babbles About Marriage," but decided it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi.)
One of the messages from the sermon that really stuck out to me was that submitting to and serving our spouses is not about us or about them, but about God. We don't submit to our spouses' needs or serve them because they deserve it -- because they are sooo nice, because they are good looking, because they work hard, or because take care of the kids (or dogs, in our case). Because there will be times when they'll inevitably hurt us, disappoint us, or not fulfill "their end of the bargain." Serving our spouses doesn't have to be conditional upon their behavior.
Instead, we can love our spouses because of the love God has shown us, the love that we don't deserve, the love that we receive from Him even when we are at our very worst. We can serve our spouses and show them love because God has chosen us to show them how much He loves them. Wow. That really hit me. God has chosen me to show Tanner how much He loves him. What a responsibility, but what an honor. That's something I would like to spend the rest of my life doing. I know at times I'll fail, but I can't think of a greater gift than to be given than the opportunity to show this great man how much his God loves him.
I'm linking up with Tuesday's Unwrapped, to talk about the "sacred gifts of the everyday."