Eleven years ago this month, I was sealed for time and eternity to my husband in the Washington DC Temple. It has been a busy and stressful life together so far. But not a bad life. That doesn't mean it has been all rainbows and sunshine either.
I have thought a lot about marriage. There are so many marriages today that are temporary. Just recently, I was listening to the radio and heard a song called "Highway 20 Ride" by Zac Brown Band. I had heard this song before but for some reason the sadness of it really hit me. I found myself weeping for all the broken families in the world.
What really struck me was the phrase "Your mom and me just couldn't get along." How many families have suffered because of this superficial, prideful excuse? I thought of all the lies Satan has been feeding people about marriage and life and happiness. His lie is that we deserve better, that we would be happier with someone else or just without the other person. I know there are times when that may be the case. I am certainly not suggesting that people stay in violent or dangerous relationships. But we all know that most marriages end because of selfishness, boredom, infidelity,... the list goes on.
I truly believe that most relationships have the potential to be strong and lasting. Anything worth having requires sacrifice and effort. There is no such thing as the easy way in anything, including marriage. Anyone who says they would be happier with someone else is deluding themselves. With a different spouse they would just have a different set of problems.
Several years ago, I had a little reality check. My husband was gone to a school for a few months and I was struggling to care for our 4 young children and our large, neglected yard. A family from the ward had come over to help cut the grass and rake leaves.Talking with the mom about the quirks and whims of husbands, we shared a few gripes about our husbands. I was surprised by how similar our two husbands were because, on the surface, they were nothing alike.
During our conversation, I started complaining about how strict my husband was at times, insisting on this or that. I remember distinctly saying "He gets mad if I don't wash the table every day." As soon as the words were out of my mouth I started to laugh. I realized how simple a thing that was to expect. I also was a little embarrassed to hear myself admit that I didn't always get to that job. (In my defense, I had 4 children under 5 at the time and I was living in a foreign country. There was ALWAYS something that didn't get done!)
The point is, I was mad at him for harassing me about the stupid crumbs on the table because I was busy from morning til night. He was just trying to encourage me to keep the house sanitary. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I know there are people in this who would have gotten divorced over that. What I found is that saying it out loud sometimes puts it into perspective.
A psychologist might say that there was more going on than a dirty table. I would have to agree. There were some control issues and feelings of being under appreciated on both sides. Was that too much to work through? No. In fact some of those issues improved simply by recognizing them.
This reminds me of a story from my childhood called "There's No Such Thing as a Dragon" by Jack Kent. The kid keeps trying to tell his mother about the dragon that is growing in their house but she refuses to acknowledge it, even though she has to climb over it to get her work done. In the end, the dragon just wanted to be noticed.
So, what makes the effort worthwhile? Why should anyone put up with a nagging husband who wants a clean table? Because it isn't just my husband that I have made a commitment to.
This is how I look at it: I imagine that Heavenly Father has said to me 'Amy, I have this son who I love very much. I want him to be happy and successful and have the best life possible. But he has problems. He can be cranky and moody and smelly. He won't always do what he should. He might spend way too much time playing computer games and trying to tickle you even though you hate it. But I promise that if you will do your best to love him and be his companion throughout his life, caring for him and challenging him when need be, you will both be blessed. Will you do that? Can you love him and be with him even when it isn't pleasant?'
And I imagine he has said something very similar to my husband. Glad he accepted the challenge!