“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,” Ephesians 6:7 (NIV)
My pastor’s wife and myself were talking one day about marriage. She wondered if people who claim that marriage is easy and naturally terrific are deceiving themselves, intentionally or unintentionally because a good marriage takes work. My response at the time was an attempt to explain that while in my own marriage there have definitely been hard times we have faced, they aren’t what I automatically think about when asked to describe life with my husband. I’m filled instead with thoughts of all the good memories we have shared and have to dig deeper to find the difficulties to discuss.
However, it wasn’t until a few days later that I realized how much I agreed with her statement and what I was trying to say. Someone wise taught me when I was still very much single that marriage takes work, hard work. I could choose to work at it from one of two angles: the angle of prevention or the angle of repair. I could either work hard at maintaining a level of intimacy, fun, laughter, forgiveness, and sense of togetherness with my husband or I could wait until difficulties arise and work at trying to repair or put out the little fires constantly. I chose prevention.
Prevention isn’t always easy. It’s a daily choice to put my husband’s needs above my own. It’s a choice that on days when I’m full of energy comes more naturally, yet is just as important (if not more important) on those days when I have nothing left to give yet am called upon anyway. It’s choosing to serve him with the right attitude, one of a helpmate. It’s choosing to stand by his side and being his biggest cheerleader. It’s choosing to honor my husband with my words, actions, and yes, even my body. It’s choosing to put into practice the vows I spoke over 16 years ago – both as a reflection of the love I had for him then and the love that continues to grow today. It’s modeling for my daughter the kind of wife that brings joy to her husband and reflecting for my sons the kind of woman to look for in a wife someday, if they choose to get married.
Then, when the difficulties come (and they will), they won’t seem as insurmountable as they could if the foundation of love, honor, and respect as well as laughter, fun, and togetherness wasn’t already firmly established. And then, when asked to describe my marriage, I can honestly say without reservation, “Yes, life has been difficult at times throughout our 16 years of marriage, but I would have to think hard to give you examples of those difficulties. However, if you want to know about the great times we’ve experienced…how much time do you have?”
Prevention has definitely worked for me with our marriage. Now if only I would practice the concept of prevention in other areas of my life – my health, eating well, cleaning and organizing the house…I think you get the picture. Obviously, I’m a work in progress but my marriage proves that there is hope for me in the other areas as well.
How about you? Are you a prevention type of person or do you work from the area of repair?
© Cheri Swalwell 2015