About a week before Stan and I were to marry, I was staying at his folks’ house making some last minute arrangements for the wedding. One night while I was there, his dad told me a story about when he and his wife were still a young couple: The best I can remember, they were in the car driving and a group of young aggressive guys began tailgating them. The guys were yelling and close to running them off the road and after a certain amount time, Stan’s dad grew weary of the harassment. He pulled over and told his young wife to stay in the car…that if things got rough she should go for help but stay in the car no matter what. No stranger to brawling, he got out to confront the group of guys. While talking with the two guys that got out of the other car, one of the fellas looked over his shoulder and when Stan’s dad turned around, he saw his young bride standing in a fierce stance holding a tire iron and readying herself to brawl right along-side him.
I have thought about this story many times over the course of the last 14 years of marriage…it has been an inspiration to me on several occasions. One thing that really strikes me is the contrast between this story and the fairytales that we perpetuate. When we talk of marriage, we tend to talk of weddings…flowers, music, candles, cake, dancing, and happily ever after. I think that marriage is a bit more…gritty…it looks a bit more like a young wife holding a crowbar and preparing to fight right along-side her husband than it does a pristine chapel full of bouquets and candles…because he is hers and she is his. Enough with the tales of knights-in-shining-armor rescuing the damsels-in-distress. In my experience, successful marriages appear to be more of a team growing and moving forward together knowing that they can depend on each other…each feeling assured that the other has their back should they need it.
A few years ago, I remember trying to unravel for Stan, the complicated ironies that I have found myself to be. I recall telling him that I was tough and I didn’t need him to ride in on his white horse and save me from the difficulties of life…I just wanted him to want to. I wanted him invested enough to be willing to do whatever was needed but, at the same time, assured that I have the strength and intelligence to take care of business. And he has done exactly that. After 14 years of marriage, he is still my team mate, my husband, and my best friend…he’s willing to get grimy and enter into the fray with me…and he is willing to allow me to do the same…but he also trusts that he made a good decision in choosing me…that I am a strong woman of character who doesn’t need constant rescuing…and I love him even more for it.
Marriages are falling apart all the time and I think a lot of it has to do with unspoken and/or unmet expectations. I think it’s time we lay to rest the fairytale images that we are so quick to perpetuate…they aren’t real and, honestly, they are a cheap imitation of the real thing. In my experience, the real thing looks a bit more like a grimy hand holding strong onto a crowbar than it does an immaculate hand decked out in diamonds and holding a bouquet.
So how are you doing with this? Do you have appropriate expectations in your relationships? Do you find yourself as a team mate or do you perpetuate the fairytales? How can you be a better team mate in your relationships?
My prayer today is that God would bless our marriages and that we would honor him through them. I’m praying that we would be loving and self-sacrificing spouses and that people would see the difference…see something that they desperately want…when they take a look at how we interact.
Much love friends,