(It’s hard to write about marriage. It’s hard to write about it because I’ve only got six months of experience and I feel like we’re constantly fumbling our way along as we try to work out what it looks like to love God and love each other and love others. But maybe writing from the mess of the moment is what’s necessary, and I don’t know about you but it’s nice to hear that someone else doesn’t have it all worked out. So, here you go. It’s time. We’re talking marriage!)
Marriage is good. I didn’t really watch Disney movies much as a kid and I didn’t spend much time in fantasies about what my marriage would be, but in my brief forays into fantasy I thought marriage would be good like a beautiful painting. It would be a perfect picture of perfection and it would remain that way. Marriage isn’t good like a painting, though.
A while ago I planted some seeds in makeshift plant pots that I made from those metal popcorn tins you get from blockbuster movies. There’s one seed that sprouted alongside the basil that I couldn’t identify. Even though I wasn’t sure what it would end up being I watered it every day and recently it got some small buds that just yesterday started blooming into some pretty purple flowers. It’s not something I expected and it’s something that took time each and every day, but watching this unexpected purple flower bloom has made me smile a lot these last few days. Marriage is good like the unexpected purple flower. It takes effort and sometimes you’re not exactly sure what’s happening or what will happen next, but if you’re faithful, then it surprises you in a brilliant way.
Let me explain.
James and I walked into marriage knowing that we wanted to be a good team. Someone wrote in a card that they were excited to witness the beginning of Team Robson, and James and I were too. We’d been doing some reading in the lead up to the wedding, and it came up a lot in marriage prep sessions too, and we kept finding ourselves thinking about how none of this would work if we weren’t a united team focused on God first and each other second. But we had to be a team that worked together, and that was where the good was.
One of the typical hiccups of early marriage is often around housework and for us it was a weird thing to navigate. James is a shift worker and that means that some weeks he’s around a lot and has a lot of energy and other weeks he’s at work a lot and the rest of the time is spent recovering enough to head back to work and do that well. It means that housework isn’t one person’s task and the stuff that’s mine one week isn’t mine the next. We pick up where we need to and sometimes when my mental health isn’t great, James manages housework and his shift work brilliantly with not much help at all. It’s good, though. It’s good because we get to work together to have this home of ours be one that we feel at ease in and others can too and it’s far from perfect – there’s a stack of books on our table right now, and the kitchen is a mess and there are three tea infusers sitting on the coffee table inside nothing at all. But this is our home, and we both feel ownership over it and joy in it.
It isn’t just housework, though. The goodness comes from the moments where we sit together and talk or pray or read and remember that our marriage is second priority to our God. I remember one afternoon James was napping and he woke up to me crying because a few situations overwhelmed me and I was completely done. He rolled over and hugged me, and started to pray sleepily. I don’t remember the prayer and I’m not sure I heard much of it through the tears but I remember he prayed. I remember a morning recently when I got to return the sleepy prayer as James put a thermos of tea on my bedside table just before he went to work and I woke up. We had a brief conversation about how tired he was and I took his hand and prayed. It felt like a dream, and it took all day for me to realise it had actually happened, but these are the precious moments of marriage.
The goodness, unexpected as the purple flower, is found in these places where we work together and we look outside of ourselves and to the God who joined us together – the God who we serve together… but more about that another time.
Marriage is good. Marriage is good because when you put in the time and effort you find that it grows into something you never expected, but is more delightful than you could have imagined. It’s not a fairy tale. It’s a fairly ordinary tale, really. But it’s good. It’s really good.