Imagine with me: bleu cheese. More specifically, imagine a text message about bleu cheese. More specific still, imagine getting a text about bleu cheese at the end of a long day at work, from your wife, asking for you to pick it up on the way home. Imagine racking your brain for what it would be used for (you did the grocery shopping earlier that week when she was sick, and don’t remember getting anything that would need it) and her replying, “for a shrimp salad”. Ok, you imagine, no problem. Now imagine pulling up to the store (Aldi; not ideal for only purchasing 1 item, but it was right on the way), walking in, and bee-lining for the right aisle. You pick it up, stand in line to pay (7 minutes, about; again Aldi isn’t ideal for only 1 item) and head home. You walk — or more like ride on your white horse, the dinner-saving knight– up the stairs to your apartment.
Now, stop for a second. Look down at your hand. Are you holding a bottle of bleu cheese dressing? Because if you’re like me, and several other people I’ve talked with about this incident, of course you’re holding a bottle of bleu cheese dressing.
Now, open the door. And get greeted by the overly, almost comically so, exasperated sigh of your wife as she looks at what you’ve brought her. Dressing?? Why would you buy dressing! CRUMBLES! Crumbles are what she needed!! Back into the cold and back into the long line at Aldi you go.
I once had a friend ask me advice on marriage. How do you know when you’re ready, what’s the secret to a long one, the usual stuff. And I gave him the advice I learned in a premarital class before I was married; Don’t get married to make each other happy.
Happiness shouldn’t be a destination in marriage. It’s too fickle. Fleeting. Happiness is negatively impacted too easily and too often. By long hours at work and canceled plans. By disobedient children and unfinished chores. By tragedy and broken promises. By bleu cheese dressing.
Instead, you marry to mirror Christ’s relationship with the church. That relationship was not always marked with happiness from Christ (see the overturning of the money tables) or the church (see the Crucifixion). But what it is instead marked with is love, a deep, covenant love. One that abides despite circumstance, despite betrayal or lies, despite mistakes or hardships or tragedies. Happiness can be a fortunate byproduct of 2 people committed to the same goal in a marriage.
As we break into Valentine’s month, I’m extremely thankful that my wife and I learned that lesson before we said our I Do’s. And while the past 6 years have indeed been filled with some extremely happy moments and seasons, there’s no denying that there’s been a fair share of strain as well. But, just as Christ’s unconditional love for the Church overcomes all manner of obstacle, so we pray will ours.