Keep Calm and Marry On


 The Island of Self

I was miserable on my wedding day. It wasn't that I didn't want to get married—I did. But the tuxedo shop had given me shoes two sizes too small. The shoes were a bad fit for my feet, but my wife, Lenya, was the perfect fit for my life, just as God intended.

God established marriage to help individuals escape the island of self—that place into which all of us are born and spend a good chunk of our lives. On our individual islands, personal freedom and pleasure reign supreme.

But at some point, something drives us to escape it. Often it's a romantic connection. We fall in love, and if it's with the person with whom we want to share our life, we get married. Many of us then go on a honeymoon—a little adventure to some exotic place where we can enjoy a taste of the good life we anticipate with our new spouse.

Unfortunately, when we return, many of us go back to our islands, our old comfort zones populated by all our old defenses, our old schedule, and our old stuff exactly where we like it. This island is built for one person, so it's tight quarters trying to share it with someone else. It doesn't take long—a few post-honeymoon weeks, usually—before the piles of socks and constant demands for conversation have you thinking, I chose to share this?

If you're like I was as a newlywed, you might be thinking, But we love each other. Surely we get a pass on all the friction that's supposed to come with marriage. Love covers a multitude of sins, right? Well, while love goes a long way when it comes to pressing through the ups and downs of marriage, it doesn't change the fact that every person on earth is at some point incompatible with every other person on earth. Marriage brings that truth into sharp focus.

So the challenge is clear: How do you learn to live with this person whom you love and have promised to stick by through thick and thin? It's a lifelong process that requires you to follow God's design for your relationship, which begins with you and your spouse leaving your separate islands of self and becoming one.

Tip #1: Accentuate the positive. If you and your spouse focus on each other's faults, you will destroy your marriage. No one is perfect, but you can accept the imperfections in your spouse. Scripture tells us that "love covers all sins" (Proverbs 10:12) and "keeps no record of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV). When you focus on the good things about your spouse, the not-so-good things fade away.