I see many couples (including me at the beginning of my marriage) who want the beautiful picture of marriage: fun, passionate, romantic, happy, sweet, and so on. They want from the beginning a picture of the old couple where he is kissing the forehead of his old wife and she is holding him tight to help him (and help herself) cross the street. We all have a sweet spot for that picture, and no one is able to resist a deep breath of admiration when we see them.
The problem is, let me explain.
Marriage does not start like that. Marriage starts out of passion for the girl you like. That is why God made young girls pretty, because if their character is all you saw, there would be many young girls and boys unable to get married. You will marry a sinner. A girl who has many flaws, who is going to disappoint your ideal of her, she will drive you crazy at times because of her character. And you will do the same to her. But you know what? She is beautiful! And best of all, if you have chosen wisely. You chose a girl that loves the Lord with all her heart, soul and mind, therefore there is hope.
Marriage at first, is fun. You are young, newly married, you have energy, you go out with friends for dinner and then to the movies, you try to establish new traditions, you have your first baby and all is well. Your biggest fights are finding the things that drive you crazy about each other... but you learn to die to yourself.
When children come, you do no have the time you used to have. You are thrilled about this kids, but you are tired, she is tired, she is not as energetic as she once was because she is busy with the kids, the house, training them ... you are coming from work feeling the weight of the responsibility for these little ones and this beautiful wife the Lord has given you. It is not as 'fun" ... you see other couples and you think something is lost. Your marriage is not exciting... is just pleasant.
Let me tell you, pleasant is good! Pleasant brings true love. Her body is changing, yours is changing. Her character is becoming more like you and you are becoming more like her. You work at making time for each other.. once a month, once a week, once every three months. This is the time to work. Something that was natural for her when she first met you, now she will have to work at it. Some things that were natural for you to do or say, now you have to mark it in your calendar so you do them or say them. It is work. Marriage feels that is "just" pleasant. But don't forget, pleasant is good! Pleasant grows love.
Kids grow up, you have more time for each other again. You start finding time more easily for her and her for you. You discover that the things that you used to love have changed and you now find pleasure in other things together. Love is growing. Work is needed still.
That beautiful young girl you once met, has now a wrinkled body, and the beauty of her smooth skin and lovely hair are now gone. You do not see her beauty because her character shines stronger. She does not look the same. Yet she is truly beautiful to you. She has endured with much pains your character and you have endured hers. She is changed because of the work the Lord has done in her and you have changed because of the Lord's work in you. And now, pleasant is a treasure! You reach the love you wanted at the beginning. By perseverance, by dying to yourself for her, by forgiving constantly, by putting her needs above yours, by protecting her even against herself.
Now you hold hands.. wrinkled hands. Now you kiss each other's face and young people desire that for themselves. Now with no work.
Dear sons, enter a marriage and do not be discouraged about the times ahead. Love will require work, and mortification if you want it to count at the end..