by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
I was a marriage counselor before I was married. I used the best marriage books for my guide. I taught about Love Languages (Chapman), and the need for Love and Respect (Eggrich). Then I got married. Everything I thought I knew went out the window and I had to go to the Bible for answers.
Surprisingly, the Bible has little to say about marriage. I can summarize it like this, be loving, sacrificial, and respectful. Have terrific sex, often, but only with each other. Don’t marry an unbeliever, but if you are married to one, don’t leave them. God hates divorce. Oh yeah, and in 1 Corinthians 7:28 Paul tells us if we get married, we will have troubles. I picture Paul writing that with a grin on his face.
Saying you will have troubles in marriage is like saying the Grand Canyon is big. Nobody would dispute that, but you don’t realize how big that canyon is until you see it. Previous to matrimony I would tell my clients marriage was hard. The best marriage books said so. Then I got married and discovered how hard it can be. I felt blindsided and exposed to all of my weaknesses and faults. I couldn’t help but think “this person brings out the worst in me.” I started questioning myself and God.
I had run into what the Apostle Paul so eloquently understated as “trouble” in my marriage. We all do. It’s normal. One of my favorite quotes about marriage comes from a former client. She said, “I wish I would have known it would be this hard, and I wish I would have known that it’s okay that it’s this hard.”
It’s okay that it’s hard. The level of difficulty does not indicate you need to divorce, it demonstrates that you have hit an ugly season of marriage. Or maybe you started off that way and can’t seem to find your footing. That’s also normal.
Our problem is we live in an instant gratification culture. We want pleasant and easy, and we want it fast. When things don’t happen that way, we are quickly disenchanted. We justify the disenchantment that leads to divorce by telling ourselves, “I love him, but I’m not in love with him.” Folks, I hate to inform you, love is not a feeling.
Love is a commitment. It involves sacrifice and determination. It is often gritty and painful. It doesn’t look like something you see in a Hallmark movie or Hustler magazine. It looks like a lonely Man dying on a cross. It says “I choose you.” Through the good, the bad, and the ugly seasons.
This is the first in a series on the ugly seasons of marriage. As a marriage counselor and wife, I’m qualified as both a war correspondent and combat veteran. If you are contemplating a divorce, I ask you not to lawyer up until after this series is over. And always, always try marriage counseling before you go for a divorce. Some of the richest marriages I see come after an ugly season that leads to marriage counseling. My own included.