My mother forwards emails to me every so often. Some are informational, but most are just entertaining…like the one I got last week. It was a review of emails circulating during 2014 with all that information that turned us into a paranoid mess and left us almost paralyzed. For example, I no longer ask for lemon slices in my water at restaurants. I’m really afraid to put most anything in my mouth because it’s probably on some “no eat” list somewhere. I’m terrified to touch any public door and am seriously considering buying a box of latex gloves to keep in my purse.
Of course, it’s not just the emails that are passed around. Facebook is just as inundated with articles and blog posts warning us of this or that. If I had small children I would be in such a quandary about vaccinations. That pendulum seems to be swinging back, though, which gives me no end of relief. My kids’ shot records are three 8 ½ x 11 pages full of stamps and signatures. My goodness, what have I done to my children!?!
I’m also not sure how many on Facebook are my true friends because I didn’t repost that status testing their loyalty to me. I may have no real friends. Probably, I would rather not know.
And don’t even get me started on the yoga pants articles circulating right now.
My biggest pet peeve, though, has to do with the myriad articles on marriage. Is my husband my soul mate or not? I’m afraid to answer that question because I’ve seen blog posts on both sides of that argument. Then there are the 53 things I should be doing to make my marriage better, be a better wife, make my husband happier, ensure that he’ll only have eyes for me, you name it. Honestly, if I acted on some of those recommendations my husband would think I’d become a total nut job. I’m convinced there’s a blog somewhere out there on why we should share the responsibility of the garage door opener in order to strengthen our communication.
So why do I subject myself to the constant barrage of information? Well, as incredible as it may seem, I read these articles because I know there’s always room for improvement. My husband and I have been at this for 28+ years and we are not perfect. And as a teacher of women I’m always looking for material and illustrations for lessons. Recently, I find myself just plain frustrated because I feel I can never be the woman in the article. I have never read through a list and been able to say to myself, “Whew! I must be doing everything right.” But, then I realized that, once again, I’m losing perspective on what’s important in a marriage. I’ve allowed the voice of man to obscure the voice of Scripture.
Over the years I’ve discovered that having a healthy relationship with my husband is really quite simple and the principles are found in Ephesians 5:22-28. 1) Wives submit to husbands. 2) Husbands love wives. It sounds pretty cut and dried. Paul also gives us several reasons for this divinely established standard, the most important being that it is a picture of Christ’s relationship with His Church. It’s basic and it’s foundational to a strong marriage.
Now, is it easy for me to submit? Well, I’m a sinner and so is he, so, no. We both make mistakes and sometimes there’s a power struggle. However, it’s easier than it used to be because I’ve grown over the years. Nevertheless, there are days when I’m submitting while clenching my teeth. I’m doing things that I would rather not do, I’m saying things I really shouldn’t say and I’m acting downright childish because I can’t get my way. But, I’m learning.
How about for him, does he love me? Well, yes, he does, but it’s not always easy. I know because I know me, sometimes I’m not that lovable. But he’s also grown over the years. I can tell you this, we communicate better now than when we were first married, we understand each other better, we know each other’s likes and dislikes and we tolerate each other’s idiosyncrasies more easily. It’s been a good 28 years—not perfect, but good. I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else.
So, is my husband my soul mate? Is he the love of my life? I hate to reduce my relationship to a cliché. Let me answer it this way, I know what he likes, I know how he thinks, I appreciate who he is and who he’s become, I respect his leadership and we’re pretty much joined at the hip. I’d rather be with him on any given day than with anyone else. I know that I would die for him and he for me. I guess, yes, is the answer to both questions.
When it’s all said and done, though, I’ll keep reading articles and blogs on marriage, clichés and all. Most of the time I find something I can apply to my life. I’m still growing. But, I will also remind myself that the standard for a healthy marriage comes from Scripture. I will persist if for no other reason than my love for Christ and a vow I made to my husband all those years ago. Everything else is…well, it’s just food for thought. I’ll look at it. I’ll probably sniff it. But I may not always bite.
Oh, and I will definitely keep up on that yoga pants debate…