"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

01 February 2009

The Surprise of Christian Marriage

This month's topic, for Marriage Monday, is about any type of "surprise" that happened when we were first married. Was it in the way of a blessing or a disappointment? What surprised us?

Well, I knew immediately what I wanted to share because it threw me for a loop.
I did not get married until age 30. Dave was 24. Yes I am 6 years older than he is. He was so mature for his age though, compared to other (older) guys I had dated in college or before grad school.
Right after grad school, while I was single and teaching full time and living in the city of Albany, I was becoming "in love" with my Savior and Redeemer all over again. I had been "backslidden" for a couple of years and was repentant and wanting to just grow in God and learn more and more of His Grace and Mercy.
Dave was the person whom the Lord brought into my life to help with that goal!

I had wonderful dreams of us sitting down together after our wedding and having these awesome, deep conversations about our relationship with Christ and doing daily devotions together. I mean....we studied the Bible together while dating and during our engagement. We discussed almost everything you could think of in regards to our upcoming life together as a married couple: children, how many, working, tithing, giving, housing, vacations, cars, banking/savings, holidays, church ministries/what to be involved in, community, etc. You name it, we probably discussed it!

I just assumed that our daily lives would include reading and studying the Word together. I started buying several of those cute, little "devotionals for married couples" books. Older, married women (and some much younger married women) from my church at that time, gave me tips on what they and their husbands did for devotions/family time, etc. Our pastor's wife told me what a blessing would follow if Dave and I would study the Bible together and how it would draw us closer emotionally as well as spiritually. Now don't get me wrong: none of these women gave me "bad advice" or "wrong advice".

It just wasn't my reality! I could SO not relate to them! First of all, most of them either didn't go to college or pursue a Masters degree and they were married already with a child or more! Almost all of my church friends at that time did not have careers....they were stay at home moms. They appeared to have way more time at home than I did doing the "housewife" thing. But..they were all serving in the church and were leading groups with their husbands' so I just assumed they were giving me tips that would work for Dave and I. I looked up to them, in a spiritual sense. They seemed so "holy". I was looking for good role models. They would tell me of their wonderful prayer times together as a couple, reading together as a couple, studying the Word, etc. I couldn't wait to do that with my new husband!

And then reality did hit.

After our glorious honeymoon on the island of Aruba, we came home to a small apartment and both of us working in our new careers.
We had a routine going where we both read our Bibles at our little kitchen table each a.m. before dashing off to our jobs. Dave was working on the west side of Albany and I was working near the Port of Albany, on the south side. We each had a half hour commute. So our reading time in the a.m. was precious to us. Now, if you know about spiritual temperaments, you will know that this plan was not the best nor the way for me to draw closer to the Lord. Read here about why.
(but I knew none of this at the time...it wasn't being taught where we were worshipping and I had never heard of spiritual temperaments)

We were both reading the Bible, independent of each other, although at the same time. We did pray together. That is something we did during the evening, especially intercession for others in our church or our pastor, etc.
We DID NOT go through those cute little devotionals together. We started to, but Dave was sooooo not into it. He despised it. We did discuss various things we were reading, both secular stuff and Christian non-fiction books and the Scriptures. We did not "do devotions" together.

Huge disappointment to me.
And I struggled with feelings of inferiority when I was in the church's women's Bible Study. Mainly because I didn't feel as though I could be "real" with the women/leaders. I also had the sense they were not all being real either or willing to share "deep" things. Hard to explain. I knew they loved the Lord. I felt as though they all had much better/"holier" marriages than I did. I always felt like I was doing something wrong when it came to my marriage and devotions.
The Lord did bring a woman friend into my life after my oldest was born. She became a friend I could really talk "real" with and one day I told her about the struggles (5 years!) with the whole devotions thing. She admitted to me that she and her husband didn't have that either! And they were becoming elders in our church! Whoo-hoo....finally a woman who was telling me like it was! AND...another woman and I were talking about our children one day (she had 4 at the time, I had 1) and somehow we got on the topic of couples' devotional books. She admitted that Don didn't like doing those books either and that she finally decided it didn't matter to their marriage. I was so happy to hear that, because she was one woman I always thought of as being so "perfect and holy". Hey...she wasn't. In fact, no one is! This is why we need our Saviour! That was so eye-opening to me. I thank God for Kris being in my life at that time. The Lord was starting to put people in my life who were not afraid of opening up their hearts and being "real".

I learned, after 5 years of struggling with this issue, that Dave and I have different love languages and that is ok.
We have different spiritual temperaments and that is so ok. (I just learned this in the last 3 years about the temperaments)
Why is it Ok?
Because we are all unique....it is how our Creator, God Almighty, made each and every one of us.
We complement each other and I can see that now.

Now that we are in a different church, I have met couples who are not afraid of being real. They share the deep things of God in marriage small groups. We have learned so much in just our 3 years there. We plan on learning much more.
Devotional books are great. If they work for you and your spouse.
I have learned that Dave only wants to read on his own.
I have learned to get into the Word on my own, ask him questions, discuss, pray together. I read and study various topical Christian books and sometimes discuss them with Dave. We, rarely read them together curled up on a couch. And that is ok!
I have learned to stop comparing my marriage and my Christian walk with my spouse, to other married couples. I have found friends I can be "real" with and who can be "real" with me! I have learned to open up and share about my marriage without feeling inferior.

And I have learned to stop buying "Couples Devotional Books"!

(note: our former church did eventually go through some "deaconnate training" with the elder and his wife I mention above. That couple led training about real life issues, how to respond, how to share in a "deep" sense. I believe more and more people in leadership there are more "real" in sharing their lives because of that training. SO...thank you Rick and Cheryl! And I'll have to ask Kris whether she and Don still do their own separate devotions....they are now coming to the same church where we transitioned to! small world.)


e-Mom said...

Thanks for your honesty and transparency in this post! We have many, MANY spiritual discussions, but we don't do devotions together either.

Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage is our guest hostess this month. Don't forget to add your permalink to her Mister Linky so others can find you! :~D

MiPa said...

Great post! I totally relate. Our quiet times are totally not the same. My husband does devotional books with our girls (and I do prayer and Bible with them as part of school) but we don't do it as a family. Why? Because we found it did not work for us---despite all the glowing advice we had received pre-marriage. I learned to let it go and trust God to teach us individually. Then we can share what we are learning in our private times with God. It works for us.

Constance said...

Isn't it funny how even in the Christian realm there are expectations of unrealistic goals? We get these ideas of how things SHOULD be and when we don't measure up we beat ourselves up! Score one for the devil! I remember when our daughter Jessica went through a rebellious stage and we "gave her the boot" while she was in college. Dave & I were still heavily involved in Youth Group as leaders. When Jessica became pregnant and hit rock bottom, she moved back home once again. The devil continually berated me for being such a bad mother, bad Christian because good Christians raise good kids. I felt like a fraud working with the high school kids when my 19 year old daughter was pretty much a train wreck! Fortunately our church family are the first ones to admit they we are all broken and hurting. Rather than disqualifying me from Ministry, God helped me to recognize how much MORE compassionate I was becoming due to our situation. If we had been in our former church I don't believe the GRACE would have been there for us when we needed it most!

Denise said...

Such a wonderful post, thanks for sharing.

Lynn said...

Hi Faith,

This post is excellent....I have learned to stop comparing my marriage and my Christian walk with my spouse, to other married couples.... Wow, if we could all learn this early on, wouldn't it save us all a lot of heart ache...

I too, compared myself and marriage too much. I am married to an unbeliever so to read your post that you pray with your husband just moves me. One day I want that for us.

These are very wise words you have written here. I wish I had read a post like this when I was newly married. Well Done. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me and everyone at Marriage Monday. Hugs.

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Donetta said...

Hello, I enjoyed your post. Interesting about the types of relational interaction with God.
I am four, nature, solitude and all my senses also loving others
Different things at different times

Connie Marie said...

I've read a bit about your meeting from past posts and it is a cool story how you two got together.
Comparing ourselves to people is hard on us! Why do we insist on doing that? The yoke is so much easier and lighter - when we keep our eyes on Christ. I realize that many women need/search for the companionship they find in church settings. I admit that I don't. hehehe I am content to say hello and goodbye! ha I don't get much involved in churchy women's activities. I know, I'm probably really missing out, but I don't feel like I am when I try to attend these activities.

Anyway, I love you Faith and I love to visit with you here. Blessings to your marriage!

Joyfull said...

Wow, thank you for sharing so much of yourself and the growth and wisdom that only God can bring into our lives. Many blessings to you!

Tammy said...

This was a wonderful post and so "real"...thank you! I, too, had visions of all those devotions together...and mainly of praying and reading the Word together, but it seldom happened like I envisioned.

I heard recently that husbands in particular sometimes have a hard time praying together with their wives...they may do it occasionally, but they feel uncomfortable and would rather pray alone. I'm sure it doesn't pertain to all husbands but I thought that it was so interesting to find that it's common thing!

Only lately, after seeing the movie Fireproof, did my husband and I equally embrace the idea of doing the "Love Dare" devotions mentioned...we don't do it daily but we try to do them together when we can and it's been incredible. But he wasn't always as willing!

Thanks again for sharing your experience!

Meredith said...

Faith, this post could have been me five years into my marriage. Thanks for being so real. I clicked over to your post on spiritual temperaments and was reminded that I have a sermon series preached by Andy Stanley on exactly this subject. I'll have to go listen to it again.


tali said...

Hi Faith, ten years later i visit you!! When i get busy with life I forget the things that bless me and help me to put my world in perspective of the bigger picture! Thanks for this post. When myles first became a christian we read the bible together and woke up in the early morning to bible study and pray together. It was just a season the LORD blessed us with while Myles was getting up to speed. He's a fast learner so it only lasted a couple of months. Like you and your man, myles and I are very different and we compliment each other. He's an intellectual and i'm a caregiver and naturalist (based on your post about different spiritual temperaments...another book for me to read!)

Because we complement each other i forget to celebrate our differences and seem to be of late tearing my hair out over it:)