I can’t tell you how many hours I spent dreaming of my wedding as a little girl. I planned 100 different imaginary ceremonies in my head. Some of them took place in beautiful churches, while others were located in elaborate ballrooms, or fields that were covered in wildflowers. You know what I didn’t spend any time dreaming of? Marriage.
You could say that I was surprised by marriage when the honeymoon phase inevitably wore off. There were bills to pay, dead-end jobs to work (while applying for better ones), and household chores to do (how could two people make that many dishes dirty? Really?). It suddenly occurred to me that Disney movies usually just ended at the wedding. I had no idea what life was supposed to look like after that.
In the Desiring God blog “A Dangerous Fairytale for Future Wives,” Liz Wann writes that little girls love the romantic picture of marriage. They imagine a life fit for a romantic comedy movie, with a doting husband, adorable kids, and plenty of money that comes from a successful career.
Unfortunately for all the dreamers out there, marriage is not a rom-com. It’s a war movie.
Wann writes, “When we move past the decisions of the wedding dress, the flowers, the meal options, we are faced with the daily decisions of living out our marriage vows. The sweet romantic bliss tasted on our wedding day is a real part of marriage — seasons and moments that should be treasured — but it’s the hard fought battles won with grace that sustain a marriage."
The reality is that every day you are married, you will be at war with Satan.
Remember when you were dating and you were tempted to cross a boundary that you knew was intended for marriage? That was Satan trying to destroy your purity. Now that you’re married, Satan will continue to tempt you, but not with your spouse, because he or she is no longer off-limits. You may be tempted with another person, or with fictional people through pornography. Your temptation may not be a person at all, but could be a substance or material possessions.
Wann says, “Our sinful desires will immediately rear up like a fire-breathing dragon. Satan will throw his grenade of lies at our feet… Many times it’s our own unrealistic expectations in marriage that blind us from seeing the bullets flying all around us. We must let go of the childish fairytale, and ask God to open our eyes to the spiritual warfare in our marriage, the battle in which we must fight for faith.”
Marriage is heavier than we ever imagined because it’s not just you and your spouse. Satan is involved and wants nothing more than to tear your marriage apart. Why?
“Satan wants to tear apart the beautiful gospel picture in marriage: the representation of Christ’s sacrificial love for his bride, the church. The enemy will stop at nothing to destroy any image or reflection of Christ in this world. He knows unrealistic expectations in marriage might help him kill what God loves. So, he tries to cheat us by selling us short on what God intends for marriage.”
Thankfully, there is one more being in a Christian marriage: Christ. When you find that your spouse does not meet your every need, that does not mean your marriage is over. It just means you’re not looking in the right place to have your needs met.
Wann writes, “We know there is a knight in shining armor who will slay the dragon for us, who will beat all the odds and win the war, who will pursue us in our distress and save us. Like Snow White’s prince, whose kiss brought the princess back to life, so God gives us his divine kiss of life through Jesus.”
Real marriage will not look like a fairytale. It will be messy. There will be challenges; you will both have to deal with sin. But you will find that the more you rely on God in marriage, the more love you will have for your spouse.
As Lauren Sok writes in “7 Things I Didn’t Expect about My First Year of Marriage,” “Not every couple hits rock bottom due to their ‘junk’ during their first year of marriage, but eventually every marriage will. It’s the most painful feeling in the world, but also the best thing that can happen. It’s when our marriage feels like it’s falling apart that we realize our depravity and our need for the Lord.”
“...If we want our marriage to be stronger our lives have to be about much more than our marriage—they have to be about walking with the Lord.”
And that, brothers and sisters, isn’t something you see in fairytales. But it is God’s perfect picture of marriage. And it is worth not just dreaming about, but actively pursuing.
Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap.
Publication date: June 15, 2016