When my kids were little, we took them to Disney World and had breakfast with the characters at Cinderella’s Castle. The stars of the show, Cinderella and Prince Charming, made an appearance. They were beautiful—Cinderella dressed in her gown and Charming in his princely uniform. They made a big deal that they were celebrating 50 years of marriage because the movie Cinderella was 50 years old. The young couple flitted around the table like star-crossed lovers. When they got to our table, I playfully asked, “You look so in love after 50 years! What’s your secret?”
Cinderella confessed, “That’s easy. We’ve never left Disney World!”
I don’t know about you, but my husband and I left Disney World pretty quickly after our wedding ceremony. Twenty years later, we are still learning how to navigate unexpected challenges, disappointments, and of course, our own sin natures.
Leaving Disney World certainly seems like an interruption to happily ever after. Wouldn’t marriage be a lot more fun if we didn’t have to deal with conflict, money problems, poor communication, and hurt feelings? Perhaps.
But isn’t it these difficulties that teach us what true love really looks like?
Cinderella and Prince Charming may look young and happy in their beautiful outfits, but their fictional love story is pretty superficial. Everyone can be selfish in Disney World. There are no challenges to nurture true intimacy. God desires to use the bumps and bruises of real-life marriage to build us into people who know how to love well.
I cannot imagine how empty my marriage would feel if we lived without challenges, conflict, and hardship. Although I don’t relish those seasons, I would never trade them. The real-life work of marriage is what God has used to reveal my selfishness and challenge me to surrender in new ways to the Lordship of Christ.
Let’s face it . . . Disney World was made for children. We all must grow up, leave the world of fantasy, and face reality in our marriages at some point. Truth is, God has profound love and excitement in store for us as we step out of fantasyland and into His design for marriage.
What conflict are you and your spouse facing right now? What are you allowing the conflict to determine about your marriage? Are you creating an atmosphere where conflict can be a catalyst for intimacy and growth or is conflict turning your marriage into a catastrophe?
CONFLICT AS CATALYST:
Here is an action step you can utilize in times of conflict: STOP & PRAY! When the heated topic presents itself today, stop and pray together. Before conversation ignites, stop and pray, and invite the Lord to lead the conversation and then ask him for grace—grace to hear well and grace to speak well. Pray together and then proceed. This can really soften the tone of the conversation and make it one of kindness and sincerity instead of frustration and anxiety. Sometimes the simple step of pausing to pray can really save the day!