Monday, February 25, 2013

The Magical Third Strand

When I got married two and a half years ago, I had a lot of pre-conceived opinions. I knew marriage wasn’t going to be easy, but I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were going to make it. My confidence came from the belief that my fiancé and I had a special secret weapon against the trials of marriage: we had God. God was the third strand that would keep our marriage together, no matter what. I believed that my marriage was inherently stronger than those of non-believers. After all, God gave us superior insight and patience. God had gifted us with stronger and more powerful feelings of commitment. God had promised us that our cord of three strands would not be easily broken. I knew that my marriage was better than your marriage because God was supernaturally holding us together.

Imagine my surprise when I faced reality for the first time. We had been married for about 6 months. I was deep in post-patriarchy depression and I cried myself to sleep almost every night. My husband and I prayed together every day, but still I could see the toll my struggles were taking our marriage. I didn’t know how to feel better, and he didn’t know how to help me. I often thought of how much better off he would be without me. As I began facing my childhood for the first time, I developed a visceral reaction to anything that felt restrictive to me. I remember the exact moment when I first realized the magnitude of my “till death do us part” commitment.

I was sitting on my bed in our tiny apartment folding clothes. I started to think about the rest of my life. I was 19, and already the biggest decisions of my life were behind me. I would be folding these same socks and underwear every week for the rest. Of. My. Life.  I suddenly felt trapped, claustrophobic in my own life. I had committed to this marriage before God, and now I couldn’t leave. Ever. My chest constricted and my breath came faster. “I can’t do this.” I thought. “I can’t do this.”  

I imagined packing my things and leaving right then. My heart swelled with hope at the idea of being truly free for the first time in my life. Those thoughts terrified me, and in that moment I felt betrayed by God. “You promised that I wouldn’t have to feel this way!” I prayed through the tears. “You promised you would hold us together!” I felt cold and naked as I realized that there was no supernatural power keeping me here in this apartment with this man. There was no safety net protecting our marriage. There was nothing but our own desires, and I didn’t even know what I wanted.

What first felt like betrayal, turned out to be the most freeing realization of my married life. I examined my heart and gave myself permission to think about what I wanted. I gave myself permission to pursue the things that made me happy. I made a lot of changes in my life, like going back to school and moving to a new state. The biggest breakthrough of all was realizing that I wanted to be with my spouse. He makes me laugh, his personality compliments mine. He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. He does not “complete me,” but I cannot imagine my life without him. The life that I have is the life that I want.

The love we have for each other, and the commitment we made to each other is stronger and more profound than it has ever been. Many people question the strength and validity of our marriage because we are “unequally yoked” or too egalitarian. I used to do the same thing. The idea of stepping into a lifelong commitment is substantially less terrifying when you think you have a supernatural shield around you and your spouse. But how much more beautiful is a wedding where two flawed humans commit to one another, fully aware of the challenges they will face? How much more powerful is a marriage where two people stay together because they want to?

There is no magical third strand holding my marriage together, it’s just us. We promised each other that no matter what happens, we will never stop working on our marriage. We promised that no matter how our feelings change, we will never give up on our love. I mean it, and know that he does too. And that’s good enough for me.


  1. I have nothing to add but applause... for both of you.

  2. I love this :) Well said, and well done the two of you!

  3. I'm happy for you both =)

  4. ... so even after rushing into marriage at 100mph and after all your doubts as to whether or not this was the man you wanted to be with. it just turned out that he really was the one for you after all. What a blessing.

    PS. It’s hard to stop looking at the past I agree. But at least you know It’s not impossible.