Joshua Liebman writes, “And they lived happily ever after is one of the most tragic sentences in literature. It’s tragic because it’s falsehood. It is a myth that has led generations to expect something from marriage that is not possible”
I agree with Liebman!
It is this perception of “happily ever after” found in secular romance novels and cheesy Hollywood movies that make me hate these forms of entertainment. They promise a lie. Too many people believe them and then are suddenly taken aback when challenges enter their marriage.
This famous phrase leaves no room for the most vital aspects of marriage that moves it from good to great: hard work and sacrifice.
Without the hard work, the relationship becomes stale and stagnant.
Without sacrifice, the love in marriage becomes selfish and deteriorates.
Hard work and sacrifice from both parties infuses life giving love into a couple’s newly born infatuation.
If the expectation is that the wedding day seals their happily ever after, where’s the work? The sacrifice? The marriage license is not an insurance policy; it’s an agreement between two people to work hard and sacrifice well. It’s a promise to live out 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 every day of their life together.
Let’s take note of this: challenges do not destroy a marriage. It is the lack of commitment to the vow of “till death do us part” that makes a marriage not work anymore.
When a divorce is an option, divergence is your future. We usually live up to our expectations.When a divorce is an option, divergence is your future. Click To Tweet
Have you seen a motionless body of water? With no stream of fresh water entering, fungi and toxins form. On the other hand, with new water entering a pond, it brings with it life – good and not so good. Fish swarm the stream; likewise, unwanted critters come, too, like snakes! But each has their purpose in that pond – to keep it alive, filtered, and moving.
Without the challenges to accompany the triumphs, the marriage is left bored and distant. Challenges filter out the selfishness and bad attitudes that come from pride. Blessings make possible times of joy, peace, and compassion. The balance of the two gives your marriage a story to pass on to future generations. Hence, the relationship is alive, filtered, and moving!
Does this mean you are to make a challenge for the sake of triumphs deliberately? Of course not! Challenges will come on their own.
Dan and I will never forget the couple who found out the wife had a brain tumor. With two small kids at home and the possible loss of his wife, this couple decided to use their difficulty to draw closer to each other and the Lord. They taught their little girls to pray for mommy and trust God for His intervention; these girls had total confidence that Daddy would love their mother no matter what! This couple’s emotional and spiritual intelligence to their challenge made possible for BIG faith to grow in their little girls and many others who walked with them on this journey. (Us included!)
Do you think this man wanted this task of taking care of his wife in this way? He endured watching his wife go through surgeries; he took on the physical care of her every need; the high hospital bills were endless; the house work, the meals, the education of their daughters, and not to mention his job faced his present and future. We might say “no, he didn’t bank on this life,” but his response to the challenge indicated that he did sign up for the task at hand.
He meant it when he vowed, “to have and to hold her from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death does us part.”
Sadly, I must insert a note here: There are marriages today that must end. The challenges of emotional and physical abuse are not what a couple signed up for on their wedding day. And if that is happening in your marriage, you are not obligated to endure this type of pain. When two people marry, they are promising to uphold the dignity of each other. When dignity has left the relationship, then the relationship, itself, has become the toxin that need be removed.
But the purpose of this post is for the typical marriage that values human dignity but must endure hardships that threaten unity. I encourage you to stay unified and don’t be afraid of the hard work and sacrifice that is required for your marriage to succeed. The blessings and challenges in your relationship are gifts to your story. God has allowed them so they serve the purpose of testimony to others as well as give you an even stronger bond. They reaffirm that you are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, you must not separate. Remember, nothing you face is impossible for God. (Matthew 19:6, Luke 1:37).