Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Secret Ingredient to Our Oh-So-Average Marriage

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  ~ Colossians 3:12-14, NIV

On two separate occasions recently, I had opportunities to recollect numerous couples my husband and I once hung around with in the earlier years of our relationship.  We were first introduced by my girlfriend, who was dating my husband's brother.  They wed only six months prior to us.  They divorced about four years ago.

We had two other couples that we regularly went to dinner with every Friday night.  We had so much fun beginning the evening at one couple's home or anothers.  Each week we would try a different place to dine, enjoying the variety of atmosphere and cuisine.  Those two couples have long since divorced.

Further on in our marriage, there was the Bible study group we attended for years.  One of the couples in that study divorced.  Then there was the "Gourmet Club" that brought us such delight over the years.  You guessed it -- One couple in that group also divorced.

Over our 21 years of marriage, we have seen far better marriages with far less adversity than we have faced crumble to pieces.  It always seems strange to see that my husband and I remain together when we would have every reason, by the world's standard, to go our separate ways.

People question me on how we do it, and imagine that we have some sort of incredible relationship.  I would tell those people that my husband is about as romantic as a houseplant.  Dates and time alone rarely happen, and when they do, it is because I have arranged them.  We do have some common interests that we occasionally have a chance to share, but more often, I am a "widow" to water-skis or cross-country skis.

So, how does such a mediocre marriage make it, especially while facing all the challenges of raising children with special needs?  One word -- humility.  The secret ingredient to our oh-so-average marriage is a large, steady diet of humble pie for both of us.  We are both honest enough with ourselves to admit that we have some serious flaws.  We know we are both sinners, saved by the grace of God alone.  And there is rarely a day that goes by where we don't find ourselves apologizing to one another.

"Detes," I say to him, "We're lucky we have each other, because no one would put up with either of us!"

When we read those words from Colossians 3:12-14 on our wedding day 21 years ago, floating in a hot air balloon high above a Wisconsin farm field, little did we know that they would become our mission statement as a couple.  Every day together has been a new lesson in learning to be kind, humble, gentle, patient, and forgiving with each other.  

I personally must often pray to love my husband the way God does, because there are days I can't stand to be around him.  But I know that there are plenty of days he can't stand to be around me.  Still, that familiarity with our own sinfulness, along with a small grasp of the great grace and mercy God has extended to each of us, keeps us in the proper position with one another.

I would love to tell you that I have the world's healthiest, most romantic marriage.  Surely, that would not be true.  Yet, I can't imagine traveling through life with anyone else.  And I am deeply grateful for the memories and heritage our hard work together have created.  We have built a remarkable life that is uniquely our own.  We have survived multiple, unthinkable pains together.  We remain, while others split apart.  Indeed, this is our gift from God.

PRAY:  Create a clean heart in me, O God.  Help me to be honest with myself about my own sin, because it affects how I relate to others.  When I want to give up, help me to stay and work things out.  Remind me that nothing worth having in this life comes easily.  Thank You for blessing me with my spouse.

~ Barb Dittrich

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Barb! There are lots of marriages like yours! It's all about grace - not from the 2 individuals in the marriage usually - but from the God Who is the 3rd Partner!