Two years ago on our wedding anniversary I posted pictures, links to our wedding invitations and program and a video of our big day. Feel free to look at it here. This year, I thought I would spin things differently a bit and take the opportunity to document a small portion of what I have learned throughout these past four years of marriage.
Often times these type of posts can give the impression that one has a perfect life- a perfect husband and wife, who have the perfect living circumstances and never face problems. Though it can be inspiring, I think it may be more helpful to post a realistic portrait, so that Christ may be exalted for where we have grown and readers may practically gain in their own marriages through a glimpse into our mistakes and solutions.
Since I can’t really speak for Shaun, my personal understanding of marriage has grown from a breakdown of my unrealistic expectations for marriage and how I thought a husband would work to profit my personal desires. I’ve noticed that in each new facet that is thrown into our lives (new country, new financial budget, new baby, another baby, school, homesickness, illness, busy lifestyle seasons, etc) I have an opportunity to respond according to selfishness or selflessness.
There are a lot of small details that our dating life (with its tendency to impress the other person) never quite enabled me to grasp until I was married and we were in a position of comfort with each other. I quickly (and still do at times) made a false image of Shaun in that he knew intricately how to always make me happy and could affirm my insecurities in ways that no one else could—and I expected those things to happen all… the… time… I made him an idol of my happiness. I somehow instinctively knew how to twist and turn my marriage into new ways to benefit me. Marriage (even know I had been trained in its purpose [at Seminary from a biblical perspective no less!] was an opportunity for me to never be alone, never suffer, skimp out on sad feelings, experience endless romance (cards, flowers, gifts, physical affirmation), excitement, and to embrace an easier life than singleness (since I had a companion by my side to walk with me and embrace the hard parts of life). Unfortunately, this is not how marriage works.
In Genesis 3, we learn that the perfect life has been ruined as a result of the fall of man. Instead of trusting God’s truth (a life of prosperity, health, food, harmonious fellowship with God and man), Eve listened to the craftiness of the serpent and choose selfishly to make herself like God and disobey the Lord’s instructions. Similarly, in marriage, what was once met for good has been thwarted by a result of the fall and sinful dispositions. My marriage can never be perfect because it is a union of two sinners. Only through Christ’s redemptive work can we learn to forgive each other and choose to find our happiness and satisfaction in Him instead of finding our identity in each other. A good marriage is a union of good forgivers.
Shaun has an uncanny habit of leaving out the milk. He doesn’t always wear the clothes of my preference. In this season of wrapping up his schoolwork, he works long hours and comes home to work even more (which is saying something with two small children to raise and distanced from our family). He usually leaves the clothes drawers open when he takes out his clothes, and has been known to come home late for dinner on numerous occasions. I have asked him to write me a card or buy me flowers, and he doesn’t always naturally grasp when I want more romance in our marriage or time with him alone. He has morning breath, and doesn’t like to vacuum.
Over these four years I have learned that though I enjoy being served, it is better to find joy in serving. Rather than feeding my personal desires for romance, a clean home, an easy life, and materialistic desires- it is better that I find my fulfillment in Christ and love Shaun out of the outpouring of this relationship. I have learned (yes, it does not come intuitively!) to choose to focus on Shaun’s good qualities rather than bitterly resenting the ways he does not serve my needs and desires at my choice timing. Likewise- if I focus on romancing Shaun and ministering to his desires, I can find joy in realizing how much I have to be thankful for in the gift of his presence in me life (READ: I have not learned that if I romance Shaun, I will receive romance in return and that if I give, then I can expect the same. Instead I have learned that Christ always has enough strength to enable me to give to others and help me learn to deny myself for His glory). I have learned that I cannot control Shaun’s bad habits, but I can pray for him (and if I am not praying for my husband, who is?!). I have learned that usually when I am most frustrated is when I am focusing on how my needs aren’t being met. For example: when it has been a long day with a two year old full of energy and a teething infant (i.e. the house is a disaster, dinner isn’t made, I look like a wreck, and I’m exhausted emotionally and physically), I can choose to cry out to God for strength, help, and patience in my lack of desire to continue ministering and meditate on applicable scripture to my situation [like 1 Cor 13 or Phil 4 and choose focusing on how to biblically love my children] OR I can complain to my husband about my discontentment with my present lot and relay my frustrations to him by blaming him for not realizing that hard days should always end with flowers and love notes full of encouragement and affirmation. Fortunately, we have found that true joy does not usually come when things are running smoothly, but joy is there for the taking when in spite of the difficulties of life (big or small) Christ is intricately leading us to make each baby step of patience, selfless love, and laughter. He is sanctifying us to find a different kind of joy than what the world tells us we may need. He guides us to righteousness when our personal strength is gone. And through this endeavor, what have I seen? What have I purposed to look for in my husband?
Shaun’s desire to lead our family in righteousness. He loves to pray with Augustine and Jane before bedtime and read them stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible or hymns and psalms from the Valley of Vision. He enjoys listening to me about my struggles and weaknesses with the kids and help me work through new solutions to help them the next day through Christ’s strength. He is an incredible teacher of God’s word. I am utterly in awe when I hear him open to the pages of scripture and teach some local students once a week about the gospel of Luke. I love his vast understanding of the whole of the scriptures and am amazed at his knowledge from the study of it. When I don’t nag him or become the food police- he thrives in eating healthy foods on his own and prefers to exercise when I give him the opportunity (though denying myself) through watching the kids a bit longer. When I find my joy in Christ instead of begging for more romance- Shaun is actually really attracted to me. He loves my relationship with Jesus and together we are able to discuss about things that really make a difference for eternity rather than catering to my selfishness. And lest you think otherwise- Shaun actually does give me lots of flowers and cards- I just have an insatiable desire for love (which I must choose to find in Christ rather than in others). I love Shaun’s servant heart. Oftentimes when it has been a long day he is quick to let me soak away in the bath while he tidies up the kitchen and remnants left behind from the children. He pours out his hard earned money with grace and forgiveness for my library fines, speeding tickets, and impulsive whims. He is a wonderful listener and is not half as reactionary as I am. Even last week when he was out of town and I was frustrated by a number of things- he reminded me not to say things I would regret (rather than being defensive himself) and led me to focus on a passage of scripture. He prayed for me and reminded me of his desire to be home with us. In the midst of writing his dissertation for school, he also teaches other classes to provide for our family so we can thrive without any financial debt. He is steady, unwavering, and consistent in his walk with His maker. He loves my post-partum figure and delights in the giggles of his children. There are so many more godly characteristics of his to list…
These four years have been full of growth in holiness as we continually come to realize new and deceitful facets where our sin rears its ugly head. The Holy Spirit has been at work in the Price household and we give him ALL the credit for the great things He has done. It is with much pleasure and honor that we are able to celebrate today and hope to leave a godly legacy of marriage for our children. We want them to know that marriage is hard work; it takes an intentional effort in order to receive the fruit of love and affection from an opposite personality spouse. We want them to see us fail, and Christ to be glorified in our weaknesses. We want them to see that the best marriages are seasoned with grace, selfless love, and mercy. We want them to glorify God well. It is with that which I end this post, and pray that those who hear it may be spurred on towards love and good deeds in their own journey towards knowing Christ more intimately.
Thanks for reading!