After aggressively saving for a while, my wife and I just purchased a home that was totally remodeled.
When the inspector was going through the house, he warned us that during the course of the first year, the new structure would settle, leaving cracks in the walls. Then a friend who purchased a similar home warned me that no matter how good the house looked, I would find all kinds of things wrong with it during the first year. Despite getting this advice from an experienced home inspector and a trusted friend, my internal reaction in response was, My house is going to be different.
I think a lot of folks go into marriage with that kind of attitude. Everybody and their mother tells them that marriage is going to be hard work, but they shrug off the input, assuming that the combined tidal wave of infatuation and sexual attraction will be enough to sweep away any serious threats to the relationship. But then they actually tie the knot, and real life hits them upside the head.
Like new homeowners, newly married couples discover that even if everything is in really good shape, every home has its problems. For example, we’ve only been in our new home for a month, and we’ve already discovered a little leak here, a screw loose there, an ugly crop of weeds in the once-lovely flower bed. But with a marriage, the problems are less concrete. In the place of leaky faucets and loose screws, there are issues like miscommunication, conflict with in-laws, and unmet emotional needs, to name a few.
So if you’re thinking about marriage, let me be the one to rain on your parade and say that no matter how good your relationship looks now, get ready to do some hard work. The maintenance and repairs that will be required for keeping your relationship in good shape will cost you more humility and patience than you ever imagined.
Thankfully, though, grace is our ever-present handyman. It is the steady foundation for real love that thrives long after infatuation has run its course. It helps us recognize that we went into marriage thinking the other person was there to meet our needs. And it gives us the strength to deal with the reality that marriage is actually about serving, which means that, yes, marriage will necessarily involve work. The good news is that home ownership, like marriage, provides the benefit of stability. The days of wandering are over; there’s a place to grow and change and provide a permanent place for our kids to grow.
So let there be no doubt: Both marriage and home ownership have presented their challenges to my wife and me, but it’s our marriage, it’s our home, and it’s where we want to be.