Should I wait or date?

If you were to ask any of my friends what has defined my young marriage thus far, they would probably say “chaos!” We are not your typical couple. I got the flu on our honeymoon, and a week later my husband had emergency double knee surgery.Frankly, I think that set the tone for our union for several years to come.

I had these grandiose dreams about marriage, which were not entirely unlike the dreams of any other young woman. I had my entire wedding planned out by the time I was twelve, right down to the favor of the filling in the cake. (It was raspberry, and it was delicious.) Every love song on the radio evoked that first dance.

I have heard many girlfriends complain that their fiance weren’t particularly interested in the wedding plans. I must have lucked out big time, because my fiance Scott, was just as excited as I was. When I got stressed out, he took over. He showed the same concern over the flowers on the cake as he showed over his favorite football team’s next big game — and that’s saying a lot for the guy. I found my dress, and everything fell into place.

The niece and nephew I was about to inherit agreed to be in the wedding party; the church was something out of a fairy tale; and most of my family members were coming in from New York for the big day. Definitely a dream come true. No reason to believe our marriage itself would be anything but!

That’s the problem with most people, though, isn’t it? They equate a beautiful wedding with a beautiful marriage. Sure, you can have a beautiful marriage, but it’s not all wine and roses. I can’t tell you how many people tried to warn us that it wasn’t always going to be a dream come true. We just didn’t wantto listen. Anyone who told us anything other than what we wanted to hear was promptly shut out and dismissed as trying to ruin the great thing we had together. (Which wasn’t giving our pals much credit, since none of them would ever purposely steer us wrong!)

We should have listened

It turned out that married life was a trial by fire. We went from whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears at the reception to practically wringing each other’s necks in the bedroom.And you know what? It was necessary. It still hurts sometimes.

We have so much learning to do. But we’re fully committed to each other now — and in love with each other again — which is more than I can say about the state of our union a year ago.

Duking it out and refusing to quit are exactly what saved us,and I believe that can save just about anyone who is willing to put up a good fight. Not a fight with each other, but a fight together against the many forces that conspired to divide us.

There were many, many potential divisions. Perhaps even some of the same ones — whetherquirky or devastating — that are stalking your union right now. In today’s world, many people bring a lot of background brokenness to marriage. We sure did. I believe people need to see that even a man and woman who look good on the outsidebut are messed up on the inside — even people who have made some stupid, sinful choices — are able to overcome those stumbling blocks through the power of Jesus.

During my many dark, dark days, I went to our local Christian bookstore looking for something — anything — that would walk me through my messed-up state and messed-up marriage. I found lots of marriage books — good books, many of them — but I just couldn’t identify with the perfect, smiling couples on the cover. These books looked like the hardest thing the marriage counselor/authors had encountered was an argument over whether to get the Lexus or the Beemer. What would they know about the marital ramifications of bipolar depression? Pornography? Fatherlessness? Poverty? Sexual abuse?

I left the bookstore, feeling defeated. But we serve a great God. In the years to follow, God brought us something much better than a book. We were blessed with amazing friends who were willing to offer us painfully honest renditions of their own stories, and their successes — and their challenges to us became our inspiration. That’s why I believe none of our own struggles will be in vain. I’m trusting God that our stumbling blocks will be stepping stones for other searching couples.

Taken from Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst by Julie Anne Fidler, Copyright © 2005 by Julie Anne Fidler, Published by Relevant Books, Used by Permission.

Julie Anne Fidler, 25, is a reporter and freelance writer from Pennsylvania, where she also works with teenage moms and their little ones. Her articles have appeared in a number of nationally known publications, and cover everything from music, to politics, to the way Christians are called to love “the least of these.” When she is not writing, she enjoys the fad of blogging, songwriting and spending time with her husband of four years, Scott.

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