Last week actor Patrick Dempsey (former Grey’s Anatomy leading man) was in the news because of his marriage. But unlike the news you normally hear on this topic from Hollywood, Dempsey was trending for talking about how he saved his marriage to his wife of 15 years, Jillian.
You may be wondering why I’m telling you this. Well, it caught my attention. It was almost startling to hear a celebrity talk about saving his marriage. I mean, let’s face it, it’s not every day you hear words like these coming from Hollywood:
“Jill and I decided it was time to work on our issues and improve. We wanted to be role models for our kids like, okay, if you have differences, you can work them out,” Dempsey said. “You can only do one thing at a time and do it well. I [learned] to prioritize. Our union has to be the priority. I wasn’t prepared to give up on her, and she wasn’t either. We both wanted to fight for it.”
I think the reason Dempsey’s words are so surprising (and refreshing) is because outside of Christian circles you so rarely hear people talk about “fighting for their marriage.” They talk about “doing what is best for us” or “trying to move on” when things go sour. I appreciate this couple chose a different, yet very worthwhile, road in seeking counseling and doing the work to restore their marriage.
In Hollywood, marriage is rarely permanent, but that’s also true among the general population — relationships just may not disintegrate as rapidly and dramatically (although sometimes they do). I believe couples go into marriage thinking they’ll never be the ones who have to fight for their relationship. Then misunderstandings, past wounds, stress and hurt feelings drive them apart until they lose the desire to fight for it.
As my husband and I have faced some of these stressful points in our marriage, it’s been comforting for me to remember that this is what I signed up for. Kevin and I went into marriage knowing there would be times that we hurt each another, passionately disagreed about something or failed in loving each other the way we had vowed. Hard days in marriage are part of two sinful humans doing life together. But I’m very thankful I went into marriage knowing there would be days I would need to fight for it (and having a spouse who felt the same is crucial in this process).
God tells us that the Christian life is a battle, and relationships and marriage are no different. We have an enemy whose goal is to tear apart what God has put together. When we keep that in mind, it helps us to “be watchful” of the enemy’s schemes in the way Peter prescribes. That’s why my advice to those planning to tie the knot would be, “Go into marriage prepared to fight.” And remember that the thing you’re fighting for is worth the battle.