I think about it, and pray about it, and hope for it, and prepare for it—nothing wrong with that! When I start to think that living in close quarters with another sinful human being might be as close to heaven as one can get on this earth, and when I begin to daydream about my “perfect” husband who will catch me when I faint, bring me breakfast in bed, and come home with roses every single week, and when I start to put a husband in the place only God should hold in my heart, then I have idealized marriage to the point of idolatry.
Several years ago, a dear relative of mine suddenly remembered that she had twin nephews (on her husband’s side, so no relation to us) our age who had been homeschooled and raised in a Christian home. Since then, there’s been no stopping her, and she finally managed to orchestrate an extremely awkward meeting a few months ago in which both sets of twins said a polite “hello” and then did everything in their power to avoid each other. While this lady was singing her nephews’ praises, however, her husband seemed to grow more and more uncomfortable.
Finally, as though to counteract her propensity towards matchmaking, he launched into a lecture on marriage. “I told my daughters before they got married,” he began, “that marriage can’t be about you. It’s not to fulfill you and serve you, but to fulfill and serve the other person.” The more I’ve thought about that advice over the years, the more I’ve recognized its wisdom (despite the—ahem—unique circumstances that prompted said advice).
I’ve lived under the same roof as my parents for 20 years, watching as they sanctify each other through their marriage. Sure, there’s roses, chocolate, dates, and stolen kisses. But there were also the nights where I crawled into bed with them after yet another nightmare, and the days when the whole family was sick and no one felt like doing anything, and the times when disagreements came and voices rose. Through it all, though, I’ve seen their unconditional, unwavering love for the Father, and therefore, for each other.
After seeing such a beautiful picture of a real marriage for so long, I don’t know why I struggle so to get the Hollywood perception out of my head. The two are night and day—a slice of my homemade whole grain sourdough baguette versus a mouthful of cotton candy. But each and every day, as I say to God, “Where’s my prince charming?” I already know the answer. My prince won’t always be charming, and my charmer won’t always act like a prince. He won’t fulfill me, and he won’t wait on me hand and foot. He will be a sinful man striving to be like a sinless God, holding my hand and supporting me as I hold his hand and support him along the Narrow Way. God will bring us into each other’s lives to further His sanctification in us—and that won’t always be a pleasant, delightful prospect.
When I get things in perspective—when I look to God for my fulfillment and to my future marriage as another means of increasing and glorifying the kingdom of God, I’m still just as excited for the day I say “I do,” but I’m even more ecstatic for the day after the week after the month after the year after I say “I do.”