What Were We Thinking?

glemmaOn Friday it’s our ten year wedding anniversary.  TEN YEARS.  For some of you this will seem like forever, to others, a drop in the ocean.  For me it’s both.  We’re a billion years from the couple that poddled down the aisle: I look back at photos and it’s like a different person.(In part because I was.  Thanks to the folks at Wonderbra my chest could have been arrested under the trade descriptions act.  My thinking was, by the time Glen finds out, it’ll be too late).

In other ways, it feels like Glen and I have known each other for ever. We met at uni and I’d like to say there was an instant attraction, but both of us were dating other people.  I was good friends with his then-girlfriend and told her she could do A Lot better.

Whatever Glen’s mum says, this was not a ploy.  Or a joke. It was years before we got together and it happened by email (he’d just been deported).   One plus of long distance: it forces you to talk.  There’s no snogging  through the awkward silence.  This is how old we are: when we started ‘courting’ , FACEBOOK HAD NOT BEEN INVENTED.

Here’s where I dispense godly wisdom.

–  there are loads of great books on the topic, (Tim Keller’s marriage talks are brilliant).

People told us that ‘the first year of marriage is the hardest’.   First year was tricky, but the next nine were harder. Depression and eating disorders and infertility and a whole host of other stuff we didn’t plan.  If I could go back in time, you’d think I’d shake Glen and say ‘Run mate; run for your life’. Truth is: I’d marry him again in a heartbeat.  And he’d do the same.  But it hasn’t looked like it does on the big screen.

A friend of mine is tying the knot soon, and says it has ruined cinema-going for him forever.   As a single man, he has always identified with the  swashbuckling protagonist …but there are no married heroes.  Celluloid klutz or collateral damage: that’s the options. Producer David Puttnam puts it like this: ‘The most important reason stars tend to be stars is that on screen, they carry our dreams. Unsurprisingly, they’re attractive, charming. We want them to be our image of ourselves’.

I thank God for Glen and the gift of our relationship. But it’s a gift, not a necessity. It’s a wonderful thing – but it’s not what gives life purpose: any more than children or career or anything else.  We do look for heroes and happy ever-afters; but we won’t find them in our other halves, no matter how special.   One of the best things that’s happened in our marriage was reaching the point where we failed the other.

‘I love you – but you are not and can never be my Saviour’.

Once this happened, something shifted.  Instead of looking to the other, we started looking to the Lord. And that’s when the real bridegroom showed up.




8 thoughts on “What Were We Thinking?

  1. I laughed and cried through this as it sounded so familiar and though we have had some very difficult years in our 30 year marriage ( Some of your yukky bits we experienced too) YES I would marry him again in a heartbeat. He’s my closest friend ;I know he loves me warts and all and vice versa. I would like to encourage you: some of those yukky bits really make sense now and appear to be part of a plan, painful though it felt at the time. Those pruning sessions of God’s hurt like billio but, boy, do they bear fruit. God bless you and keep on writing.

  2. I really enjoyed this. You’re right. We’ll have been married 10 years in August and you’ve given me a lot to think about with the real bridegroom showing up around the same time we failed each other. Hmm… Yes. I like it.

  3. And for someone’s who’s not married, this is tonic. Real life. And a Real Bridegroom. Nailed it :)

  4. Thanks for this post Emma. I could relate to it in many ways. I have been married nearly 12 years now and the past couple of years have not been easy. Like you said, we are not the same people now that we were all those years ago. Tim Keller has an excellent section in ‘The Meaning of Marriage’ titled ‘Loving the Stranger’ which deals with this beautifully. Just before you’re entering into marriage, everything seems so bright and shiny and hopeful. And it is. But not in the ways we want and expect. We want Hollywood, a ‘soul mate’, a nice stroll through marriage with a happy-ever-after. This is what my flesh wants and dying to all of this is painful. But God wants so much more than this. We cannot shrink marriage to the size of our wants and desires. It’s not about us. It’s about Him. Perhaps the most painful parts of a marriage can be the best parts. Like you said, when we fail each other, when we’ve come to the end of ourselves, then there’s real Hope. And Hope is a person, a Redeemer, The Bridegroom .

  5. What would you say, Emma, to someone who isn’t sure they’d marry their husband again ‘in a heartbeat’?

  6. Hi Bea

    I’d say that there are/have been many times when I have felt the same.What helps me is remembering that the Christian view of marriage is covenant rather than contract – and that it’s held together by Christ, not my feelings. Tim Keller’s book ‘The Meaning of marriage’ is excellent. I’d also recommend talking and praying through with trusted Christian friends – Hard to say more without knowing the situation.

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