On the wedding day two people stand in front of a minister or officiant and are absolutely lost in the moment. I have conducted several weddings and I have seen it first-hand; the groom absolutely mesmerized by the dazzling beauty of his soon to be bride. The bride, who once she enters the space knowing every eye is on her, only has eyes for her true love and who is ready to give her whole heart to her dapper, debonair groom. It is oh so magical, and though the couple has gone through pre-marital counseling and has received advice and wisdom from seasoned married professionals and veteran couples on how to hang in there through the tough times, in that moment that is the last thing on the soon-to-be-bride and groom’s mind. They are going to conquer the world together! Problems…issues… challenges…sickness…divorce? Those are situations other couples deal with, but not us! Can you blame them though? I mean who wants to go into a brand new relationship or enter into a brand new season of life focused on worse-case scenarios? In fact, even though the pastor says to the couple in their vows, “do you take this man/woman to be your lawfully wedded husband/wife for better OR for worse, for richer OR for poorer, in sickness OR in health so long as you both shall live,” I believe most folks feel like the more they can avoid problems and negative circumstances in their relationship the better.
Now, I don’t think anyone enjoys going through hard times. It’s neither fun nor is it energizing, however it is telling. You see no one learns much about their spouse when everything is perfect. It’s easy to say how much you love someone when things in your life are “better.” However it’s in the times of “worse” where you find out who is really in your corner, it’s during the times of “worse” where you have an opportunity to put your commitment on display, and it’s during the times of “worse” where you get to find out what you and your relationship is made of. The tough times present couples with the chance to cry together, to fight together, and to grow together. Personally, I have come to appreciate the challenges I’ve experienced in my marriage. Now I reiterate, those times aren’t the most fun and energizing, but when you have two well intended people willing to continue to put in the work, it is amazing the character it builds both individually and corporately as husband and wife. It also provides a depth of intimacy that you just cannot experience without some level of adversity. So to all of my fellow married couples I say enjoy the times of “better.” However during the time of “worse” I say do not miss the opportunity it presents. Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”