SWEETHEARTS ARE NOT ALWAYS “SWEET”
Patsey and I celebrated our 48th Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2017. We have been “Sweethearts” for over 48 years. But we all need to know, realize, and admit that Sweethearts are not always SWEET. “Sweetheart” sounds good, but that is not the way it is all of the time. Not very many, if any, of us actually “live happily ever afterward.” There are very few “Cinderella” stories in real life.
Pat is my sweetheart and my very best friend. She is my companion and the love of my life. But she is not always sweet (bless her heart) and, of course, neither am I. Sometimes I’ve wondered why she is still with me – especially the way I was right after we first got married and before I became a Christian. (When we were younger she would sometimes call me “handsome.” But now, the only time she even uses the word is when she wants money and then she will say, “Hand some over”). Seriously, it might help a lot of people if Christians simply told the truth about marriage and the ups and downs that are present in all marital relationships including those involving the most dedicated Christians.
Sometimes people have asked me questions like, “Do you and Pat ever fuss?” “Do you ever argue?” “Do you have disagreements?” “Do you ever get mad and lose your temper?” Then I usually think to myself, “What kind of stupid question is that?” Of course we do—about any number of things! We don’t agree on how to drive a car. We don’t always agree on how to treat our children. We don’t always agree on how and when to spend our money. We don’t always agree on when or how to have sex. In fact, we won’t agree on whether or not I should write this article and send it out!
(By the way, if it makes you feel better, you can refer to these disagreements and arguments as “lively discussions.”)
But someone says, “But, Wayne, you are a preacher!” What exactly does that have to do with anything? I am a man married to a woman! And, believe it or not, there is a big difference in the way we see a lot of things. I do not have to read a book about planets (Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus) to know that married couples are “far apart” in the way they think, reason, and feel. We all need to realize that the “honeymoon” does not last for any of us. (The “honeymoon” will, sooner or later, turn into “honey do’s.” At first, when she wakes up, it’s: “Lo the dawn.” But, after a year or two, when she wakes up, it’s: “Mow the lawn.” In other words, things change after we are married.)
People get all excited when they first get married. They go into the marriage looking for the Ideal, find that it is an Ordeal, and too many start looking for a New Deal. I read somewhere that marriage is about three “rings.” First, there is Engagement RING. Next, there is the Wedding RING. Then, there is the suffeRING. And there is some truth to that in every marriage at times. I am reminded of the words of a song I heard Waylon Jennings sing:
It was a picture perfect wedding
We had the whole world at our feet
Everyone thought we were heading
Down some lovers easy street
We’d have a house out in the country
A picket fence the whole nine yards
They said our love would last forever
It was written in the stars
Wrong! I should have known it all along
When the future looks too bright
Can’t be anything but right
The song is right. If you think that married life is always traveling “down some lovers’ easy street” or it “can’t be anything but right,” then you are “Wrong!” Life is no storybook. I know that deep down some of us think of Cinderella and Prince Charming riding off into the sunset. But in real life it does not happen. And, sad to say, for some the Disney fairy tale ends up being more like a horror movie. Thankfully, it is not that bad for most of us, but we still need to face the fact that marriage is not for the faint of heart. Sweethearts are not always “sweet.” But the good thing is: they do not have to be! There are no perfect people and there are no perfect marriages. It takes commitment to make a marriage work. Therefore being willing to keep the commitment we make to each other is really what makes one a “Sweetheart” long term.
All of us who are married should consider two things. First, we need to be honest about how far short we all fall. There are no perfect marriages because there are no perfect people. We can put on our “happy faces” at church and pretend that we aren’t sinners who fail, but this does no one any good. Second, we need to remember that, although we are not all that we should be as husbands and wives all the time, if we are following Christ, we are not what we once were and can be. We should focus on getting better and improving our relationships. If we believe what the Bible says, then God’s ideal for a good marriage is not a fairy tale. It is our goal, our ambition, our desire.
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Eph. 5:25). Wives are to ‘love their husbands” (Titus 2:4).The key to a successful marriage commitment is commitment to Christ. We have the Bible to guide us and we have the “gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) to “strengthen us” (Eph. 3:16) and to help us as we seek to do the Lord’s will in our marriages and in our Christian lives (Eph. 5:17).
The Bible does not teach us to “just accept that there are no happy marriages.” The Bible teaches us that there is something better. Marriage is a picture to the world of Christ and His relationship to the church (Eph. 5:31-32). That fact alone should motivate us all to seek to have successful, happy marriages–to the glory of God.
So, while admitting that I am not the husband I should be all the time, I have to believe that I am better than I was and can get better, if I allow the Spirit of Christ and His word to work in my life. So, be honest with where you are, and always depend upon God to help you do better both in your marriage and in life.
Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).