About a year ago, one of my husband’s gal friends bought one of her friends over for dinner and a movie. We chatted like two in-college and one post-college girls are wont to do – life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. (This may be over-simplifying things just a little, but you get the idea.)
The friend-of-a-friend started asking questions about what it was like to be married. It’s pretty good, I said (with only a year-and-a-bit of experience) but has its challenges, like anything in life.
And then she said something I’ll never forget: “I think your house is the first I’ve been to that doesn’t make a shrine out of your wedding.”
I was a little take aback, and proceeded to point out the giant banner, guestbook-poster, and Aragorn’s sword leaning around the living room to prove her wrong – there was evidence of our wedding all around her (and it wasn’t exactly subtle decor). Her point has been dwelling on my heart ever since. Whether you have a wall-sized enlargement of you and your beloved hanging in the living room, or just a 7′ banner of the Tree of Gondor, your home reflects your souls as much as it does your hearts.
The home is a very personal space, but what we bring into our homes and living spaces also reflects what is going on inside of our souls. This transcends personality or style, and echoes what we value as people. Our apartment is not a shrine to our enduring love; it is not a sacred, untouchable bubble of love/peace/joy/happiness that is exclusive to us. There are huge tributes to our marriage in our house and also to our ever-growing passions for books and comfy furniture, but there is also space for family and friends to feel that this is their home too, as long as they are here.
But that friend was also wrong. While our house may not be a shrine to our wedding, I often inwardly idealize and idolize marriage.
- I idolize marriage when I see a single friend and pray that they could be happy with a spouse and devalue their singleness to push my own agenda on their lives by thinking that marriage will make them happier.
- I idealize marriage when I talk to my girlfriends about how life isn’t how I planned it and gripe that we are in a bad place when we are doing just fine.
- I idolize marriage when I bash or obsess over the newest wedding crazes.
- I idealize marriage when I get frustrated with my husband for not holding me accountable to the piles of bills and paperwork I’ve let accumulate.
When I let my own thoughts and feelings get in the way of our relationship, I’ve either torn down or elevated marriage to a place where it doesn’t belong.
I fully understand that I am still a newlywed in many ways. Two and a half years seems like yesterday, but I can hardly remember a time when we lived separate lives. My status as a married woman completely changes how people interact with me, and at the same time does not change my status with God. I am the same broken, sinful, redeemed daughter of God as I was when I was 7 years old.
My prayer this week will be for God to show me how to value the life He’s given us without giving our marriage more credence than it’s due. Maybe this will be a focus on contentment – maybe it will be focusing on someone else’s struggle with singleness – maybe it will be planning someone else’s wedding so they are freed up to live their life fully. Marriage is a learning process, not a trophy, and I’m still very much a student as we work out these lessons together.