At the end of last summer my husband and I moved from Southern California to serve at a church in New England. After a crazy cross-country drive in our lil’ ol’ pick-up with a “handmade” trailer bumping away behind us, car repairs along the way, and my beloved Tommy kitty nearly dying en route, storms that made us wonder if weren’t all going to die on the road and draining humidity, we finally arrived in Massachusetts. We’d spent hours in Friday traffic starting somewhere in Jersey, through New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and finally Mass; road grimy, exhausted and totally spent.

We were excited to move into our new home - a rented cabin in the woods, perfect for us, church gatherings and the friends and family who were coming to behold New England in all it’s autumn glory in just six weeks. Scooping up the pets, we declared that we were finally “home” and walked in the door. The house had been ill treated and left empty for six weeks before we arrived. We were greeted with mold, mice and maggots.

At first, I told my hubby I’d just get this place all scrubbed up and it would be fine. But as we surveyed the house, we found broken plumbing and issues that weren’t going to be quick fixes. Tommy kitty was totally freaked out and ready to climb back in the truck he hated so much just to get away from it all. We called the realtor that rented the house to us and checked into a motel 6. The rest of the night, both of us were coughing and having a hard time breathing (neither of us have asthma or any respiratory issues) just from spending an hour in the dank, moldy house.

It took nine weeks before the place was repaired, a hurricane that knocked out power for a week (which for those of us on a well, means water too) and some not-so-happy calls to a landlady we would soon learn had a history of nasty relationships with people. We learned about her fun relationships and sue-happy stance through visits to the house from police (looking for someone other than us) and her “friends”. We were next on her list of targets. Being threatened with a lawsuit, despite the fact that we knew we had done nothing wrong, was rattling, stressful and downright just too much!

This was SO not part of the deal!

We had entered into a contract made on good faith. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Months have past. Some things have settled down. But it made me think on another good faith contract we made, the one my husband and I made on our wedding day. We pledge life and love, for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health. We try to prepare for the worst and pray for the best. But in reality, on that day, we have no idea what awaits us. There are unimaginable joys, but it’s the unimaginable pains that threaten to pull us apart.

The times when we feel like, “this so wasn’t part of the deal.” The times when we couldn’t have imagined that our spouse would be...

  • so depressed
  • so angry
  • out of work for so long
  • drink so much
  • need so much
  • be so irresponsible
  • become such a kill-joy
  • use words that hurt so deep
  • spend so much
  • work so much
  • yell so much
  • cry so much
  • be so selfish
  • put on so much weight
  • play video games and zone out so much
  • have so many children
  • never have children
  • lose the house
  • be so sick

On and on. No matter how much we love each other, there are bumps in the road and times when we look at life and marriage and silently think, “This so wasn’t part of the deal.” But, in reality, it was. Our pledges to one another cover over the territory our imaginations can conjure and beyond. Well beyond.

It is in the territory beyond what we imagined that we practice things like:

... put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:12-15 NAS

Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 NAS

Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 1:5-21 NAS

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Philippians 2:2-3 NAS

If you are at one of those impasses in your marriage, ask someone to pray for you. Be honest with them (in ways that are caring and discreet towards your spouse). Pray for your own role as a husband or wife, pray for your spouse and for your marriage. Ask God for grace and a softness of heart to learn and grow through this season. And if you can, grab a more seasoned couple and pick their brains, hearts and memories for their journey. No one makes it “til-death-do-us-part” without bumps, valleys and stretching seasons. You are aren’t alone. So don’t go it alone! Lean into the Lord, your honey and those who are near you. Whether you feel it at the moment or not, God has poured the richness of His grace over you and your marriage; and He has provision enough for the territory beyond what you thought was part of the “deal.” May you know intimately the grace with which God has covered you, your journey and your love.

Need a place to start? follow Motl Ministries on facebook or twitter and we’ll send you a PDF of Scripture prayers for you & your marriage. Also, visit us this February for daily freebies and give-aways!

April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the joint efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. For more information about the ministry visit www.MotlMinistries.com.