Thursday, March 15, 2007

bliss or blisters

Tomorrow Susie and I are leaving for a little R and R on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. So you ask, what is the occasion? And maybe you noticed I didn't say our wonderful kids were going with us. Well you are right, they are staying with their Nana. This Friday Susie and I will be celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary. I know we look too young to be married for that long. I agree!! We were just babies when we got married.

I was in my favorite place the other day, you know Starbucks, and actually that is where I am right now. When one of my barista friends and I were talking, I mentioned to her that Susie and I have experienced 16 years of wedded bliss. To which she responded “well I am sure that it has not all been blissful”. So I said well you are right sometimes the bliss has turned to blisters.

What is it that changes from the wedding day, which is so blissful, to the days full of blisters and pain? Susie and I were talking about this subject this morning in bed after our kids got on the bus for school. We began to reminisce about all of the places we've lived over our 16 years and all of the people who have crossed our paths. I told her “Susie I cannot think of anyone else that I would have wanted to spend the last 16 years with than you” (AWH) To which she responded “who else could have put up with you” She is right.

We laughed about all of the crazy hand me down furniture we've had over the years, and the places we've traveled. But one thing was missing. Neither of us mentioned the blisters. Oh we've had many, some huge ones that sidelined us from the blissful game of marriage for quite sometime. However, right now all I can think of are the blissful moments. So today I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learned over the last 16 years that have helped us make it even through the blisters.

  1. You never graduate from the school of marriage- Many of us remember the day that we graduated from high school or college. We remember the excitement we felt and the sense of accomplishment. It was finished, for some that was the last time they would ever pick up a book for the rest of their life. However, any leadership guru would tell you leaders are learners and just because you are finished with your educational studies does not mean you should quit learning. However, that is what many people do with their marriage. In the dating arena singles study diligently because they want to pass from singlehood to marriage. However, I have seen it over and over, people graduate Suma Cum Laud from the single life and end up failing after just a year or two in the marriage classroom. Why? Because they failed to keep studying their spouse. If you and I are going to make it in the marriage classroom, we need to be committed to remaining students of our spouses for the rest of our lives.
  2. Don’t trust your feelings; trust the facts- Too many people after a couple of years walk away from their marriage saying “I just don’t love them anymore." I think that is a load of crap. Sorry but last I checked love was not a feeling it was a choice. Feelings cannot be trusted; they will misguide you just about every time. You need to trust the facts of your commitment not the feelings you have. You may be saying Paul what do you mean by that? Well let’s look at our example of love, Christ, and see if we can see the difference.

Romans 5:8 (MSG)
8 But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

This example of love looks more like a choice than a feeling. He laid His life on the line when we did not deserve it. If Christ acted on His feelings He probably would have never gone to the cross and we would have never been able to experience redemption. Yet when it came time to decide on feelings or facts Christ choose to trust the facts not His feelings. Look at some of Jesus’ feelings.

Luke 22:42 (NIV)
42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

Aren’t you glad that Jesus did not take the easy road? His road was the one more difficult but it was the one that was the road to redemption. I am not saying marriage is easy because I know for a fact that it is not. But after 16 years of bliss and blisters I find that the things I remember the most are the blissful moments. I think this is because when Susie and I had those blisters we did not bail out, but we stuck with it and went through the healing process.

If you are considering bailing out of your marriage because it has become more blisters than bliss, why not go see a counselor our talk to someone who can help you. I think it is crazy that we have life coaches for our careers these days, but let our marriages fall apart because we have too much pride to ask for help. All I am saying is that we all need to remain students of our spouses and focus on the facts about our relationship rather than our feelings that change as much as the weather.

Susie Thanks for choosing to love me in spite of me. You are my greatest source of encouragement. I am amazed that I have a portrait of Christ’s love as a partner in life and in ministry. I cannot wait to reminisce over the next 16 years. I love you.

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