I wore the veil, I walked the aisle, and I took his hand as we dove into the mystery of marriage. In my beautiful white dress with the long train and flowing veil, I felt like a princess and the man before me was my Prince Charming. In that magical moment, I believed what the fairy tales had told me since I was a little girl. I was convinced that I would live my happily ever after…
We all want to be have a happy marriage, to have our husbands make us happy; we long for happiness. But real life can be like a slap in the face bringing us back to reality. I know from my own experience, that I had many resources to help me plan a wedding, but very little understanding of how to plan for the marriage.
Struggles, personality differences, insecurities, and unrealistic expectations made me feel like the fairy tales had lied to me, or at the very least, reality and fiction don’t live on the same plane.
One mistake I made was expecting my husband and my marriage to bring my happiness. This is an earthly view of marriage and it is why I believe so many marriages don’t succeed. Because, when the tough times come (and they will come), many find themselves saying, “I’m not happy.”
The biblical view of marriage is completely different because it is not happiness that God promises us—it is joy. What I came to understand, after many years of struggling, was that there was a difference. Happiness is fleeting and transitory. It is dependent on human emotions and human emotions can be very, very fickle.
As one of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) joy can only come from the Holy Spirit; it is not dependent on man or the world.
I like the way Kay Warren defines it:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
The first step in a shift of my marriage was understanding that “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Jesus had to become the third cord—the center of our marriage. With Jesus, my husband and I could finally understand that joy is essential to our lives and to our marriage.
After almost 26 years of embracing this truth, my husband and I can now say that there is nothing that we cannot walk through. We have this ultimate assurance that God is in complete control of our lives. With this weapon in our arsenal, we can face any battle. We can say with certainty, “Indeed You are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:20).
Embracing the joy of the Lord doesn’t mean that you won’t go through hard times and rough patches. What it means is that you allow God to use those struggles to teach you, strengthen you, grow you closer to Him, and ultimately bless you.
“So be truly glad There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.” (1 Peter 1:6 NLT).
“Dear brothers and sisters when troubles of any kind come your way consider it an opportunity for great joy.”(James 1:2 NLT).
Finding joy in your marriage can only happen when you surrender it all to the Lord with complete faith and trust that He is working all things together for your good. (Romans 8:28).
The foundations of our marriages should be Christ. When Jesus is at the center of our marriages, we can find joy in an earthly world of fleeting emotions like happiness.
Here are some things you can do as man and wife to ensure you are walking in joy in your marriages:
- keep Christ as the center of your relationship
- grow in your faith individually
- grow in faith as a couple
- pray together over your circumstances
- focus on the good things in your marriage
- laugh more
- make time for each other to have fun and enjoy one another
- understand God uses it ALL for your good
I pray that you will let go of the world’s definition of happiness in marriage and the fallacy of the fairy tale. Embrace the biblical view of marriage and know the joy that comes from surrendering and trusting God completely.
Every marriage is unique and every marriage has the possibility to be used by God to expand the kingdom. Today and every day choose joy—it is a gift and a choice!
Blessings as you find joy in your marriage through the love of Christ,
Susie O’Neal and the Help Club for Moms Team