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marraige

When I was dating my husband I wouldn’t let him hold the door open for me. I refused to let him do some of the nice things that a gentleman does for a lady. Why? Because I had this warped notion of what it means to be a female in today’s society. It was so important for me to be strong, independent, and not have any need for a man in my life. When in all actuality all I thought about was wanting to be loved and in a relationship with a man.

I recently read a little gem of a book that probably should be on a list of what NOT to read if you are a feminist. It is titled, The Privilege of Being a Woman and it is written by a catholic woman named Alice Von Hildebrand. I absolutely love the book but there was one sentence that I really could identify with in terms of my own feminist view. She writes. “Yet we live in a world so deeply steeped in secularism that many of us are not even aware that we are influenced by its disastrous ideology.” That was me in my college years asserting my womanhood by not letting a man open a door for me. How silly! I was being influenced by the society around me even though I didn’t identify myself as a feminist.

When I married that man, who I refused to let open the door for me, I joked that I was going to take out the words “honor and obey” out of our vows. I even choked up on those words a little during the ceremony. If you watch the video footage I put a bit of sarcastic tone into the word “obey”. Maybe funny at the time but looking back at it I am sorry that I trivialized a really important word in our marriage.

My husband and I just celebrated 18 years of marriage and as I look back at how much marriage has changed me, I feel blessed to be a woman who finally figured out that whole “honor and obey” thing.

I used to think that letting a man hold a door open for me was a sign of my own weakness as a woman. Joking about the word obey was my own ignorance of what exactly the word “obey” means in a marriage. I wasn’t even aware of how much the secular feminist ideology had really influenced me and it took a toll on my marriage in the early years.

I bought into the 50/50 premise and if my husband didn’t do his part or what I felt was his part, I held it against him. I started tallying all the ways I was doing my part and for some reason I was always doing more, being more, and marriage was just an unfair equation.

God slowly changed my heart and I began to discover something that doesn’t come naturally to me— humility. I laid down all my desires, all my tallies, and scores in the marriage and I just began to serve my husband out of love. All those hard walls of independence and “I can open my own door” philosophies were wiped away and I discovered something in my marriage— love.

Now love was always there to begin with but something changed in me. I began to realize my weakness as a woman complimented the strength of my husband. I began to see the lie that our society tells us as young girls. “We are women, hear us roar” – overshadows the grace and love women can find out of a grateful heart to serve. Yes, that includes serving our husbands.

Hildebrand writes, “Humility is a virtue that finds little favor in the secularist world.” I might add, it’s not even in the feminist language.

I struggled for many years with finding my own happiness in my marriage, that it wasn’t till I relented and began to submit and concentrated on my husband’s happiness that I truly found contentment. Suddenly “honor and obey” made perfect sense.  I found joy in serving others and there was no more exhausting tallying or equations.

Matthew 20:28 says, “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve…” Christ came to teach us that serving equals love. Can serving be abused in a marriage? Absolutely!  But the secular ideology that humbly submitting is somehow degrading is such a lie that we as women have bought into and it has created some unhealthy marriages and some very unhappy women.

Hildebrand writes, “Power, riches, fame, success, and dominance are idolized; humility, chastity, modesty, self-sacrifice, and service are looked down upon as signs of weakness.” As a Christian, I knew the importance of self-sacrifice but I didn’t know how to live it in my day-to-day life. Marriage taught me the beauty and strength in weakness. We have taken the word weak in society and have branded it as negative but in reality weakness, in the act of humility and service, produces love and in turn strength.

My marriage is not perfect but it is happy because serving dominates my thinking instead of doing it my way. My husband doesn’t always open the door for me and I don’t expect him to but when he does I thank him because that’s what marriage is– humbly considering one above the other– just as Christ did for all of us.

 

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The gay marriage debate is front and center right now and if you are like me you are probably tired of all the equal signs and posts from either side of the argument. I have my own religiously held views about gay marriage but that’s not what I want to write about here. If you step back a little about the bigger picture of this issue than it’s important to look at exactly what is being discussed – Marriage!

What is marriage is the question being posed before the Supreme Court. What is marriage is the question we all need to ask ourselves. Quite frankly it is a bit hypocritical for the Christian believers to uphold the sanctity of marriage when the divorce rate among Christians is almost as high as with in the secular community.

I don’t have some great theological definition of what marriage is or should be. I only have my life experience of being married for almost 17 years. What I do know is that the equal sign has nothing to do with marriage. Early on in my marriage I bought in to society’s lie of equal partnership and that 50/50 equation of love and respect. The more I tallied up my results in my marriage the more I came up with an uneven score. I realized that keeping score is exhausting in a relationship and the more I did the more unhappy I was in my marriage. When I decided to let go of the equality equation, I began to feel what the sanctity of marriage was all about.

It is basically all about faith. It is the belief that even in the most difficult times my marriage will stand and live up to the vows we both made to each other. What a reflection of my faith in God. Like my marriage, I too have made a commitment to Christ. I have not always been the most faithful contributing partner in my union with Christ. However, God is always there to forgive and love me when I have broken that love and respect. I don’t hold score in my faith with God and I shouldn’t in my relationship with my husband. Marriage is a mirror of God’s love in an earthly form. It’s a daily reminder that among the ups and downs of life God is there loving me and devoted to me even through my marriage.

I don’t think the reflection of Christ in marriage is spoken enough with in the Christian community. Perhaps it is lost in psychological methods and reasoning. In the marriage debate in society it is all about equal love and respect. However, it is easy to love and respect someone just as easy as it is to break it. If our expectations of marriage are so equally calculated than it is understandable why so many people don’t live up to them. For me, understanding God’s depth of love for me has helped me to realize what exactly the sanctity of marriage is. It is a holy vow that cannot be put into any mathematical equation because faith cannot be calculated.