For years I was baffled by the couples who seemed so happy and a few months later, ended up divorced. And some would split up to go right into another marriage, certain that this would be a better fit. It took me a long time to admit that sometimes being married is hard, there seems to be a belief in our culture that if someone claims this, they must be on their way to divorce, but I would argue the opposite. I believe that the act of denying the truth is more likely to lead to divorce, and stating the facts about your marriage can greatly increase the likelihood of success. In fact, there is a valid reason for why marriage is hard, and it’s not because he is a jerk or she spends too much money.
You know the story of Adam and Eve. Early in Genesis we read that God creates Adam and all the animals and determines that it isn’t right for man to be alone, so he creates Eve to be a suitable helper. Right after presenting her to him, there is a verse that talks about the importance of leaving the family to cleave to your spouse. This was the first marriage, five pages in to my Bible! Man and woman were designed to be so different, to complete each other from the very beginning. On the same page as this, we learn that the serpent targets this union with questions and temptation.
You know what happens next; Eve gives in and eats fruit from the only tree that God told Adam not to, and this is the beginning of sin entering our world. Do you remember what comes next? God hands down a curse to each member of the story; enmity and strife to the serpent, a life of painful toil to the man and what was the woman’s curse? Everyone knows that one, painful childbirth, right? But take a look, there’s more to it. “To the woman He said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16) Wait…what was that last part? Desire in this context is not talking about sexual desire, it’s talking about the desire that women have to compete, or lord over their spouses. In one fell swoop, we went from completing each other to competing against one another.
Why is it that every person knows and expects childbirth to be painful, but we are caught off guard when marriage gets difficult? We look across the kitchen table and think, ‘maybe I chose wrong, this is just too hard’, when it’s going to be tough with anyone, it’s all the way back in Genesis! It is part of the punishment for allowing sin to enter our world in the first place. Why did Satan (the serpent) target the first marriage? Because he knew from the beginning of time that the best way to dismantle families, reduce credibility and obliterate hope was through the disintegration of marriage, the very first union of the Bible.
So we can stop pretending that marriage is always easy, and just let go of the lie that life could be so much better with someone else. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to the work of making this covenant relationship the best it can be, this side of heaven. If you need ideas for how to make this happen, please ask me or someone you trust.