I’d been trawling though Trade Me (NZ's eBay) in search of a bargain when an advert photo caught my eye, so I took a look. “Matching wedding rings, 2 years old, but only worn for 6 months.” Is that really sad or what?
One of my favourite movies is the Princess Bride. I unashamedly admit it. There are so many fabulous lines and some great scenes, one which involves a forced wedding between the bad guy, Prince Humperdinck and our hero’s true love Princess Buttercup. I know, they have stupid names but it’s a modern day fairytale, so that is probably explanation enough! The wedding was conducted by a very impressive clergyman with a severe speech impediment. He intoned “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam. And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva. So tweasure your wuv.”
At this point you can hardly contain yourself but then the clergyman gets interrupted. When the laughter subsides a bit, it sinks in that what he was saying in a bumbling sort of way is how things should be after all. “Marriage is what brings us together today, Marriage, that blessed arrangement, that dream within a dream. And love, true love, will follow you forever. So treasure your love”.
I guess unlike Princess Buttercup our lives are not fairytales. There is no “happy ever after” this side of eternity. With marriage, there is love, but also hard work. We start out thinking everything is lovey-dovey, but then realise our expectations are often unrealistic, unmet, and unexpressed. Disappointments are often rampant, indulged, and nurtured. Love is often only a feeling or infatuation and can be very immature. It’s so easy to start out unprepared for the hard work of love.
The wedding is such an exciting day, full of joy, flowers, laughter, the odd tear, friendships, family and least we forget, the wonderful food. Isn’t it strange that for one day, there is so much preparation, yet for a lifetime of marriage there is so little preparation. Before we got married I read a book, but although I can’t remember the name of it, there is one bit of wisdom I do recall. Couples were encouraged to remember that although the actual wedding is for one day only, a marriage is for a lifetime. The main lesson seemed to be “Prepare for your lifetime (marriage) as well as plan for your day (wedding)”, because all of us know that it doesn’t end when you walk down the aisle, it’s only just beginning. It’s an adventure, and sometimes, OK most times there will be bumpy patches.
Carolyn Mahaney points out in her book Feminine Appeal that men are to love their wives with an agape love as Eph 5:25 shows “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”, in short loving sacrificially. Women however are told to love their husbands with a phileo love in Titus 2:4 “and so train the young women to love their husbands”, in short loving affectionately. Of course there will be ‘cross pollination’ and men are to love affectionately and women to love sacrificially but don’t you find it interesting that the bible calls both men and women to love in a way that doesn’t come naturally.
I was having a conversation with a wise male friend of mine, at a birthday party recently. I said to him, “This submissive love that we’re to have as women towards our husbands, doesn’t seem fair.” He told me that he was having a conversation that exact same day with a man, who said “this loving our wives as Christ loved the church thing, doesn’t seem fair”. As we talked it through he wisely asked “what has fairness got to do with anything?” We are so determined to state our rights, making sure we are treated as we think we should be, ensuring we are not taken for granted and are treated with respect, that we fail to see our calling to obedience to God’s Word. Ladies I’m not just speaking to you, but to your husbands as well. A slight side: It does take two to tango, but if one isn’t willing to love biblically, then that doesn’t excuse the other from obedience to God’s Word. Honour God, even if your spouse isn’t willing to. You never know what God will do with that obedience.
My rights have to be ousted by love. Sacrificial love, more so for men, and affectionate friendship love, more so for women. Men, what will you give up for your wife? Women how do you show your husband you love and enjoy him?
If we fail to grasp these biblical lessons we risk diminishing our love, and potentially even losing our marriage. Commit to giving up your rights and loving as we are called to love. If all is not well in your marriage, take courage and ask your pastor for the name of a trusted counsellor. Your marriage was never meant to be a drag, it is meant to be a delight. I hope you will not remain in discontent, but will desire more for each other and the future and seek wise counsel and learn to love each other again. This is not to say however that a spouse must remain in an abusive or violent relationship regardless of the cost to themselves or their children.
As the clergyman said, impediment aside, “treasure your love.” Our wedding rings are a symbol of the promises we made before God, a symbol of a treasure that has a high value. A Trade Me auction can never show the true value of love or the cost of loss, disappointment, hurt and rejection when that ‘fairytale’ plays out without a happy ending.