I remember a conversation with my brother about a friend of his who was from a culture that practices arranged marriages. I remember talking about how we can hardly fathom the idea and how bizarre it seems to us.
Then my brother said, “But the divorce rate there is almost zero.”
My immediate thought was, “Ah, but are they happy?”
And then, I immediately was disappointed in myself for thinking that, because I “know” that marriage is more than “being happy.”
So, what is marriage all about anyway? Why did God design marriage in the first place? I think the book Love & War: Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of, by John and Stasi Eldredge, can answer those questions.
This is not your typical “Seven Steps to a Happy Marriage” book written by an author who shares about the people he/she has counseled to a better marriage. Yes, there are some stories about other couples, but mainly the authors tell their own story — the lows and highs, the bad and good, the ugly and beautiful — of a real marriage. I mean really sharing about their marriage. [Can you imagine writing a book about your marriage for all the world to read? Yeah, me neither.]
It is their realness and honesty that makes this book so good. I read it and felt normal, because as I read about their story I felt like I was reading my own. And while I related to the frustrations, misunderstandings and just general hardness of marriage, I also had the overwhelming feeling of hope. It’s as if the book says, “Hey, it’s Okay! You are normal! But there is something more. Marriage can be so much more … you can do it!”
But, not just that I can do it alone. And not even that Ben and I can do it in our marriage. But that God can do it when we invite Him into our marriage and into our lives. And isn’t that the message of Jesus? He accepts us as we are and invites us to something better.
Like I said, the book isn’t as much a how-to with a list of suggestions, but a story of how John and Stasi have invited God into their marriage. How they have learned to listen to God. How they’ve learned to love. And how they’ve learned that the “war” is not against each other, but against Satan, the enemy who wants to destroy everything God has called good. And most importantly that God offers us something better when we invite Him into our lives. It can seem like a risk — and it is! — but it is worth it.
And so begins the book: ”
It can be done. And it is worth it. Of all the things a man or woman needs to hear about marriage, this is perhaps the most important of all. It can be done. And it is worth it.” (Introduction, page 7)
The book is worth it, too. I find no coincidence in the fact that I finished reading the book in the week Ben and I celebrated our 10th anniversary! Thank you, God, for the gift of marriage! And thank you for the hope you give us!