The Seven Year Itch

Ruth Davidar Paul   |   February 17, 2016 

marriage

By the time you read this post, my husband and I would have completed seven years of wedded bliss. On the 17th of February 2009, we pledged our lives to each other before God and family. I don’t know where the years have flown. I still remember how starry-eyed I was on my wedding day. And I remember feeling like the bottom had fallen out of my world when we had our first fight. Oh, and I definitely remember thinking I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. Of course, we soon made up and all was right with the world again!

Ruth Bell Graham once said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” And oh, how many times I had to learn this the hard way.

I entered marriage believing all the stuff I’d read in fairy tales. But all the happily-ever-after stories never tell you practical things; like how much to cook for a hungry man, for instance. Just in case you’re wondering – it’s a lot more than you’d anticipate (and leftovers will only transform a hungry man into a grumpy man)! Finally my husband had to sit me down and gently explain that his portion should be thrice the size of mine. Just imagine the shock on his young wife's face! But yes, men really eat like that. And yes, it’s normal.

Our first year of marriage was a minefield. At every corner we either seemed to be in a fight or inching our way to the next one! At the time, I always went to God with all the complaints I could lay against my husband’s door; but, looking back now, I realise I probably wasn’t the easiest person to live with – with my million unrealistic expectations coined during a misspent youth of reading cheesy novels and watching corny movies.

Expecting my husband to come back from work and stare soulfully into my eyes and say, “You complete me”, was probably too much to hope for, but that didn’t stop me from expecting. I would be disappointed, which would lead to irritation and, finally, a fight. All the while, my clueless husband would have no idea why he suddenly had a raging virago on his hands, when all he’d expected was a little downtime in front of the telly and a hot meal! As Ruth Graham also wisely put it:

“It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain. The same goes for the man who expects too much from his wife.” 

We look back at that first year now, and laugh at our childishness, yet that year taught us more about true love than anything else. It taught us to forgive and forgive again. It was a mirror to our own weaknesses and foibles. But it also showed us that we could become one. There would need to be pruning and it would be painful, yet it began the process of welding us together – two parts of one whole.

Marriage also taught me that when life hands you lemons – you have a partner to make lemonade with. Like each family on earth, we’ve had to face our share of personal tragedy and heartache. Some seasons have been tougher to deal with than others. The loss of a parent, the loss of health, the inability to conceive and the loss of job – we’ve experienced it all over the last seven years, and are still experiencing it. Yet, through it all, I’ve seen God strengthen the cords of love binding us to each other. It is not something we can take pride in. It is purely the mercy of God.

If not for Him, we’d have probably drifted apart, angry with each other and with nothing in common. Yet, when I look back at the last seven years, I see a life filled with love and laughter, a life of togetherness, of drawing closer to each other during the hard times and finding strength to encourage and love each other sacrificially with each new day. I love this man more today than I did eight years ago. From Graham again:

“Love deepens with understanding, and varying viewpoints expand and challenge one another. So many things improve with age. Those who abandon ship the first time it enters a storm miss the calm beyond. And the rougher the storms weathered together, the deeper and stronger real love grows.”

I’m learning that a lifetime of loving will still leave me unprepared for all that marriage entails. Yet true love – the kind that flows from the Heavenly Father – is a living, growing thing. It is not an ideal to be protected in an ivory tower, but a transforming strength that doesn’t shy away from getting down and dirty. It breaks the selfishness that encircles us and fills us with the power to see our spouses exactly as they are – faults and all – and love them enough to lay our lives down for them. It may chip away at our defences and leave us vulnerable, but it also slowly eliminates our own flaws, removing the dross.

That is the kind of love we should write sonnets about!

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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Ruth Davidar Paul is a freelance copy editor and content developer, who loves rummaging through used books stores and collecting old books. Apart from filling her home with overflowing bookcases, she enjoys deep conversations, jigsaw puzzles, painting, and daydreaming. She currently lives in Chennai with her husband Abhishek and their children Abigail, Jordan, and Amy.

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13 comments on “The Seven Year Itch”

  1. This is so true. SO encouraged to read this! It's so true that I cannot expect my husband to be to me that which only Christ can be! Also I couldn't stop laughing because I have these unreal expectations from my husband when he comes back from work to like you said "stare soulfully into my eyes and say, “You complete me”". Hehe such a good post!

  2. Ruth !!! Haha !! I remember that first year ! Hilarious - man, you used to come to me for advice ! Imagine that - ME !!! 🙂 Amazing to see how time has just flown by - here's to the next 43 years ! 🙂

    1. Ok now this is the heights! I dunno what to laugh at, Niru being put up some high pedestal or Ruth somehow thinking Niru had the wisdom for her!

  3. Hi Ruth, First of all a very Happy Anniversary to you and your husband. May the LORD bless you both with many many more years of blessed conpanionship filled with His grace and Mercy. Very beautifully written . Very encouraging and relevant for every married couple. I really loved the line from Ruth Graham "It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be....." Still got to keep reminding myself of that... though I have come a long way in my marriage of 15 years.... 🙂

  4. I love the humbleness behind the story :). Glorifying God, respecting your husband and humbling yourself. Loved the way you coined everything together. Especially the quotes 🙂

  5. Ruth wishing you and Abhishek a very happy anniversary! This article is so beautifully written. Loved the honesty and simplicity with which you've written and loved all the quotes from Ruth graham bell.

    P.S- considering that it's Abhishek that you're coooikg for you should have cooked a little extra( just kidding! I hope he doesn't punch me in the face the next time we meet)

  6. Ruth,
    This is something that any married couple can relate too, I could easily relate to so many things mentioned here. Loved the quotes and the insights you gave us. Keep up the good work.

    Sunitha

  7. Dear Ruth,

    Happy Anniversary to you and your husband! I really admire you for your humility and honesty. What you wrote could very well have been about me. Thank you for sharing those pertinent quotes by Ruth Graham. As women who have been through these experiences, it should be our mission to educate our friends and family who are about to enter married life that life is not what we read in those novels and see in those movies. Thank you for taking on that mission by being so honest about your struggles and victories in Christ. May God continue to bless you, your husband and daughter.

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