It was shortly after my wedding day that I had a conversation with a woman from my church that went a little something like this:
Her: So what'd you do this weekend?
Me: Not much. Had a quite weekend. Watched a movie at home Friday night with Dave.
Her: Gotta love it. Nothing like a little movie and make-out session on the couch!!
Me: (awkward grin and giggle) ya.
Her: Oh come on.. you're not over that stage yet are you???
Me: (awkward grin again)
Not much of a conversation on my end. Which is unusual for me as I was chatting my mother's ear off while being born. But here, in this conversation with this particular lady I was not only at a loss for words but was freaking out inside.
Truth was, my man and I most certainly snuggled up on the couch but there wasn't any making out. We didn't want to miss the movie! Now, reality is: some people are movie watchers and some people are maker-outers. That just is what it is (which are you??) but the issue was that all of a sudden I felt like there was an expectation of what Dave and I SHOULD be doing at this stage in our relationship. And those types of "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" raced through my head constantly in the early stages of our marriage- adding quite a bit of stress.
If you're anything like me, a gentle warning may suit you well right here: Don't freak out at what I'm about to say. Wait and process until you've read it all.
Most often, when asked about the early stages of our marriage or the "honeymoon stage" if you will, Dave and I respond with something like this:
"By the grace of God, our honeymoon stage was short lived."
Let me give you some context.
When my husband and I met each other, I would dare say we both were both were, well, confused in life. But especially when it came to relationships.
I had just recently broken off an engagement and had told myself I was to never look at another man again. I had lost all sense of trust in myself as to how to make good decisions with men. Dave was also on a journey of his own, looking for relationships that were "perfect". So neither of us were really looking for each other.
However, when I got hired as a youth pastor at a church he was interning for, we were unable to avoid one another. I could not deny that he was absolutely gorgeous but I was terrified inside to let myself think it. The more time we spent together, the more we realized how terrified we BOTH were, because we actually enjoyed being around one another.
Things progressed beautifully and we began to date and spend time together outside of our work. I had never laughed so much with a man in my whole life. We finally made our relationship official. I couldn't believe that, after all I had been through, that God had brought such an incredible man into my life.
But then, something weird started happening.
We'd be having a beautiful time together and then suddenly find ourselves in these moments where we were unsure if the relationship was right. Or we were unsure of how we felt about the other person. Yes, it was over petty things most of the time, but this sent us into a downward cycle of breaking up and getting back together a million times over. Our friends even started making jokes about our relationship.
Until one weekend, after having decided what I thought was a final end to our relationship, some friends that loved us both sat us down and said:
"You are afraid. If you do not learn to commit, you will never know true love."
We were scared of encountering a time when maybe we wouldn't FEEL something for one another.
We were scared of pain and disappointment.
We were scared of the moments where love must choose the other person day in and day out, regardless of circumstances.
We were scared of truly giving ourselves to the other person.
We were scared of truly being known by another person.
We were scared of the moments when we "should" be making out on the couch and weren't.
David made me want to be a better, more holy person. I WANTED him to know me and see me and I WANTED to know and see him. Everything in me wanted to be with this man, despite how scared I was.
So we did. We chose one another for true love's sake.
Not for our feelings which came and went (as is normal in all healthy relationships) but because we both wanted a marriage that would serve Christ and make us and the world around us see the love of God more clearly.
Here's where it all ties together: Making this commitment to one another, getting engaged, and setting forth on the marriage journey was absolutely amazing.. but it took our old habits and ways of looking at relatinships a long time to die. (Might I add... they are still dying..)
By God's grace, we were faced with the hard core truths and realities of what true love and marriage is really about before we were even married. If we were going to do this marriage thing right, we needed to MAKE right some of our WRONG ideas and ways of living and relating to each other. This is why I say our honey moon stage was short lived.
But despite the short life of newlywed passion, we were given a greater gift. We stood face to face, before God and our community on our wedding day and made a covenant to one another to love each other with the kind of love that moves far past emotions and feelings, that fights for peace, that gives of oneself for another, and that always seeks the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for unconditional love, direction, comfort and provision.
The times that I sit on the couch next to my man watching a movie-- maybe holding hands, maybe not, but KNOWING that he is my best friend, my faithful partner, and committed to this journey with me-- is equally as amazing and needed as the times when we are caught up in loves most heated times together.
I know now, our relationship is not based on any hot married moment on the couch or romantic dance under the moonlight in our pajamas. (Although those moments are sweet.)
As with the river and water's tide, so feelings for your husband and wife may rise and fall, but true love cannot be swept away.
CALL TO ACTION
Singles: There is much truth in what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7, "And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband..." This however, is NOT to say that you shouldn't desire or pursue marriage. It is, I believe, saying that while you are in a season of non-marriage, your heart should be freely and relentlessly pursuing the heart of God. So what you start comparing your life to the married couples, take a mental list of how you can serve the Lord, maybe in ways they can't in this season.
Marrieds: When you start feeling the temptation, longing and pull to create fantasies or control feelings of romance in your marriage, ask yourself what you can do to serve your spouse instead. (Especially us ladies)
May that be the focus, and then may you swim in loves' true romance with the blessing that comes out of that, which far outweighs anything we might try to control.
Are you a movie watcher or movie makeouter?
Has your "Hot Marriage Moments" shifted over time?
Did you have a honeymoon phase?
Dave and Cara Maat have been married 4 years. They live in currently humid Michigan, with their newest baby bump on the way. Connect with Cara on Twitter or her Blog.