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Why Marriage Ain’t No Movie (how I’ve stayed married for 28 years)

When younger couples hear that my husband and I are about to celebrate our twenty-eighth year of marriage, the reaction is typically two-fold.

1. “Wow! How old are y’all?” 

Translation – “Had cars been invented when you met?”

This one is easy – I say, “We are old enough to know life before the iPhone, but young enough not to have driven to school in a covered wagon.”

2. “Please tell us how you made it this long.”

To which I reply, “Marriage ain’t no movie.” – (Incorrect grammar noted but used for emphasis ;-).

What do I mean?

Well, as simplistic as it sounds – 

Do you love your love story? Our lives might not be as exciting as the movies, but the leading lady and gent are sure to experience adventures, crazy turns and even mundane moments to last a lifetime. Learn how to build a story together that lasts and that points others to Christ as they watch it unfold!Marriage Takes Time.

When Harry Met Sally, he knew little to nothing about her, but in the span of ninety minutes, they cover fifteen years and end with happily-ever-after. In that hour-and-a-half of crying, laughing, sighing, wishing and dreaming, we don’t see them – in real-time – take out the trash, become frustrated when the kitchen is a wreck, care for aging parents while simultaneously picking out prom dresses, cut the ends off PB&J sandwiches or volunteer for the forty-seventh day at school events. The best and worst of their relationship gets condensed into a manageable format that we can digest and process over popcorn. Marriage, on the other hand, is hours of seemingly insignificant moments that create a lifetime of trust, if we appreciate that this minute-by-minute documentary is precious and worth the investment. 

Marriage Doesn’t Have Stunt Doubles.

We are going to feel the pain. As amazingly strong as Chadwick Boseman is, the producers of Black Panther employed men like Daniel Graham to fight T’Challa’s onscreen battles. In marriage, there are no fill-ins. You and your spouse will experience the full force of the enemy’s attacks from without and within. You will fall, get knocked down, and feel like you’ve been hit by a train, but nowhere along the way is there a body double. This level of physical and emotional endurance requires both people to be FULLY present 100% of the time and to be constantly conditioning your hearts for what you’ll face. The great thing is that while we may not have a stunt double, we do have the Holy Trinity and the host of heaven fighting on our behalf. We have powers greater than any superhero or force on Earth fighting for and with us in this covenant. We don’t even have to find the words. Scripture promises that our groans are enough for our Father to hear. 

Marriage Has Only One Screenwriter.

When we see Maria passionately, but gently, set the Captain straight in The Sound of Music, we could covet the way they handle conflict. If we are not careful, we could berate ourselves and our spouse for not being more poetic, poised, purposeful, and practically perfect in every way, wholly forgetting that someone spent hours writing and rewriting the dialog shared between these characters. The truth is, that for the rest of us, we have one Screenwriter, and sometimes, He doesn’t reveal the plot twists and turns until we are in the middle of them. Even then, He may not tell us WHAT to say as much as HOW to say it. He directs us to speak with gentleness and respect – to love and build each other up – to forgive and to live at peace. We have to be so in tune with the Writer of our story that His words will flow out of us – otherwise, our tale looks more like the end of Rogue One. 

Our marriage may not be a movie, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t romantic, thrilling, comical and sometimes even horrifyingly challenging. And when the credits roll on our great love story, there’ll be no gaffer, no best boy, no key grip listed. There’ll just be three cast members that matter – the leading lady, her leading man, and the Director who promises to never leave or forsake us – down to the final scene.

Taking cues from The Director,

Denise C. McDowell

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