This is a second guest post from Tyler Ward, the author who guest posted “Marriage is Fire.” He has just released his new book “Marriage Rebranded” and I hope everyone gets the chance to read it. Below begins the post from Tyler! –Gary Thomas
LOVE IS A JOURNEY – NOT A FREE FALL
“We fell in love and got married.”
This was certainly my story.
After a few stomach butterflies and a handful of DTRs (Define the Relationship), I thought my wife and I had arrived at the much-sought-after phenomenon of being in love. It was no wonder I expected all the benefits of love on day one of our marriage—and disappointment quickly became a familiar place for us both.
I am a hesitant citizen of an instantly gratified society—increasingly drawn to microwaving everything in life. And sadly, I brought this microwave mentality to marriage and expected the benefits of love instantly.
You know the benefits I’m talking about. The trusted friendship. The happy partnership. The ongoing romance. Etc…
But anyone who has experienced marriage knows that—though these benefits are very real perks of love—they aren’t something we simply fall into.
Trust requires trust-building circumstances over time.
True companionship comes from years of conversation.
And romance? Well, the kind of romance that doesn’t fade only comes from being intentional over the long haul.
A friend of mine recently attended a small gathering after a frustrating fight with his wife. As they went around the circle introducing themselves, he announced they had been married five years.
A woman, almost cutting them off, blurted out, “Five years? Oh, you guys are only kindergarteners.“
Suddenly, my friends frustrations with his marriage seemed empty. As he thought about the woman’s simple but profound comment, he realized: everybody expects kindergarteners to occasionally act childish, be selfish, and throw tantrums.
He thought, “Perhaps I should cut a couple kindergarteners (he and his wife) some slack and not expect them to be graduating college already.”
Unfortunately, a microwave mentality seems to be a dime-a-dozen in modern marriages and is only perpetuated by this illusion of falling “in love” with our spouse. When we believe we believe in the phenomenon of “falling in love,” our marital responsibilities then subtly become about little more than maintaining this state of love—and we’ve all seen where this rabbit hole can lead.
Inevitably the challenges of marriage come knocking, and because we think we’ve already “arrived” in love, any level of conflict or disappointment can have a way of putting this love on trial. Fortunately, this instant brand of love that we simply fall into is not what God had in mind.
Gary Thomas spoke brilliantly about the topic in a recent interview I did with him. He said,
“A good marriage isn’t something you find and fall into, it’s something you make and remake many times over. See, in the Hollywood view of ‘falling in love,’ it’s all about finding the right person and then it’s supposed to be easy. Unfortunately, this idea ignores the fact that we become different people. It ignores the fact that we usually want different things out of life. It ignores the fact that really, about 80 percent of us are going to marry almost our exact opposite. It assumes that we’re static individuals and we’re not. Life changes. People get sick. Their parents die—that changes us. They get cancer—that changes us. They get fired— that changes us. They might succeed in their business far more than they imagined—that changes us. If we don’t pursue intimacy, we lose intimacy. I have to keep pursuing my wife or I’ll become a stranger to my wife.”
In light of this, I asked Gary, then how do we know when to marry someone if we cease to believe in this phenomenon of falling in love? His answer was beautiful.
“Marriage is not about finding ‘the One’ and falling in love. It’s about choosing one and, over time, becoming the ‘right” couple’.”
Tyler Ward recently released “Marriage Rebranded: Modern Misconceptions & the Unnatural Art of Loving Another Person,” where he explores more modern myths about marriage, tells awkward stories, and offers unorthodox best practices that are sure to help anyone write a better marital narrative for themselves. Pre-order it now. Or watch the book trailer here.