Don’t Measure a Marriage by the Big Moments
By Heather Riggleman
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.” - Luke 21:1-4
Three times Chris has held my hand as I groaned, borne down and pushed his children into this world.
Twice, we’ve said our vows to each other in front of friends and family. The second time was for our 15-year anniversary, after we both became followers of Jesus. We even had Pastor Lance, who was there in the beginning to witness our first fumbling steps as baby Christians, and Pastor Jeff, who’s been our Pastor for the last six years as seasoned Christians.
Once, Chris held my hand to put a real ring on my finger after 20 years of marriage. We were beyond the definition of poor when we ran off and got married as teens. Decades later, he put an honest-to-goodness ring on my left hand that exemplifies our lives together. I couldn’t breathe when I saw it, a London Blue Topaz surrounded by a halo of tiny blue diamonds. My dream ring.
It’s funny how couples think marriage is made up of these big moments. Personally, I blame the movies and social media. Perfectly filtered and cropped photos fill my newsfeed on a daily basis. It’s difficult not to fall into the comparison trap when a friend and her husband took yet another trip to Ireland for the fun of it.
Then there are the movies. Need I say more with the happy endings, neatly tied up in a big bow of perfect bliss? We become enamored with the romance on the screen; how the guy runs through the airport to tell her she’s the one. Or how he’s willing to walk away from his dream job just for her. But then the credits roll, the lights come up and we find ourselves sitting next to our sweatpants-stained spouse, a dirty living room and kids who want that one last drink of water AFTER bedtime. The reality of marriage is hard to swallow in that kind of harsh lighting.
Marriage is anything BUT the big moments. It reminds me of the lesson Jesus taught his disciples about the poor widow. Most people read this story and draw insights about finances and tithing. But it’s much more than that. In Luke, we find the wealthy making a show as they give rich, lavish sums of money for all to see. Then comes the widow who gives out of her poverty. She probably didn’t know where her next meal would come from, but she loved God with her whole heart. In that love, she gave her “whole livelihood.” She gave all she had, even though it was a small, tiny, seemingly insignificant gesture.
This is the stuff of which a good marriage is made. The little things, the insignificant moments, the mundane moments, the day-to-day of your lives together; this is what makes up your “whole livelihood.” It’s richer and more valuable than what all the money in the world can buy. Couples assume it’s the big moments that make a marriage work. My friends, no it’s not. The big things like a new house, a career advancement, traveling to the Bahamas or Europe for anniversaries are just icing on the cake.
What are the little things in which you can give yourself to your spouse wholeheartedly? Well for us:
It’s fingers intertwined.
It’s going for walks after supper. He tells me it’s time to ditch the kids, grab our phones and play Pokémon Go (because we are complete nerds).
It’s waking up to a clean kitchen because he cleaned it late at night.
It’s sitting next to him while he works on the car or new house project.
It’s calling me every night when he’s on the road for work.
It’s laundry folded and put away before I get home.
It’s saying, “I love you,” when we’re both still angry and fighting.
It’s running to the store at the 11th hour for school supplies that includes multicolored folders with the prongs.
It’s his embrace when I am overwhelmed with stress and the world is spinning off its axis.
It’s his vulnerability when he prays for me yet again over nightmares.
It’s how he ensures I’m taking my antidepressants without making me feel crazy or broken.
It’s how he budgets extra money in the checkbook for that cute top I really liked.
It’s how he has my favorite crab and cucumber salad ready for me when I've had a long day at work.
This is the holy work of marriage. It is the sacred boring, the brave kind of love, filled with the ordinary everyday, mundane moments. It is indeed the little things that create the framework of a rich, lavish marriage.
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone) with her three kids and husband of 20 years. She writes to bring bold truths to marriage, career, mental health, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. Heather is an author and a former national award-winning journalist. Her work has also been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at heatherriggleman.com or connect with her on Instagram.
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