Well, that was a short post.
Seriously, though, as you walk back down the church aisle or out of the judge’s office, your path together as husband and wife could lead in a number of different directions. The ultimate outcome depends both on the foundation you laid while you were dating and the effort you’re willing to put in now that the rings are in place.
For the last ten years, my husband and I have taught one of the classes in our church’s marriage prep program. One of the topics we discuss is forgiveness, the lubricant that makes it possible for two adult humans to survive in one 850 square foot apartment. Or a 2800 square foot house, for that matter. Many things go into a healthy relationship, but all the communication classes and budgeting talks and conflict management in the world won’t keep your relationship loving if you don’t have that one key ingredient.
I mean, more than likely your spouse didn’t leave his jeans six feet from the dirty clothes hamper in a deliberate attempt to ruin your morning, right? It may not seem like that big a deal, but over the years small hurts and minor conflicts can build into major issues. In his book Why Forgive? author Johann Christoph Arnold uses the image of a couple laying in bed together with a brick wall building up between them. Each individual brick is small, but over time the wall gets so high the couple can’t get over it and so they separate.
My husband and I always encourage couples in our classes to deal with the little stuff because it’s great practice for handling bigger issues when they occur. As a couple, you will have to deal with crisis. That’s just the way life is. One of you will get your dream job, only to realize that your 70 hour work weeks have turned your spouse into a single parent. One of you might go out for happy hour with the gang from work and get a D.U.I. on the way home, ensnaring both of you in a tangle of lawyers and court costs.
You may have kids together, which are their own little packages of conflict.
By dealing with the small stuff from a place of forgiveness, you’ll learn the vocabulary and trust you need to handle major problems. You’ll learn to give each other the benefit of the doubt, to realize – in the words of one of our wise student couples – if you have a fight and one of you wins, you’ve both lost.
I can honestly say that after seventeen years of marriage, knowing that my husband has seen me at my absolute worst and still stuck around is a pretty awesome thing. Love may change after marriage, but it doesn’t have to fade. It takes commitment and a liberal willingness to forgive to keep it growing, and I wish you all the best as you start your journey together.