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Can Marriage Get Better Over Time?

High expectations for marriage don’t have to result in disillusionment.


by Leslie Ludy

When Eric and I were first married, I heard a Christian psychologist on the radio say, “Every married couple, at some point in their life together, will wake up one morning, look across the table at their spouse, and wonder whether they married the right person.”

I was horrified at such a thought. God had perfectly scripted my love story with Eric, and I had grown to recognize God as the true Author of romance. Why should I expect something that started out so beautiful to end up turning so sour?

I mentioned this to other married Christians and always seemed to hear the same response. “Just wait,” they would tell me. “You are still a newlywed. Pretty soon the honeymoon magic will die, and you’ll understand what that guy was talking about.”

But Eric and I refused to give in to their dismal expectations. We were convinced that when God puts something together, it only gets better with time. Think about Christ’s first miracle—turning water into wine at a wedding. The wedding host was astounded that the very best wine was saved until the end of the celebration. This is a profound picture of what Christ does for a marriage relationship that is centered on Him. When Jesus builds a lifelong romance between a husband and wife, He saves the best for last!

Now Eric and I have been married almost 13 years. And I can honestly say that our love story has only grown more beautiful, more romantic, and more fulfilling with every passing year. (Just this morning, I found a sweet love letter from Eric waiting for me as I sat down to write!) We have never once looked across the table from each other and wondered whether we married the right person. We have never grown disillusioned with our marriage. And we have never had our hopes dashed to pieces because our expectations were too high.

Are we merely an exception to the rule? Are we simply fortunate to have missed out on the mediocrity that seems to visit every other married couple? Absolutely not. Eric and I believe that victorious, beautiful Christian marriages are in the grasp of everyone who invites Jesus to be the centerpiece of their love story.

What this generation of young Christians needs is not lower expectations of marriage, but higher ones. We need to understand what is truly possible when the Author of lifelong love scripts the story.

Just as God has called us as young women to showcase a radiant, triumphant, super-human victory through our lives, He has called us to showcase a supernatural, lifelong, spectacular romance through our marriages. After all, the entire Bible is a picture of marriage—the love of the Bridegroom toward His bride. Christian marriages are meant to be a picture of heaven on earth.

Make Jesus Christ your first love

Life isn’t always predictable. Marriage isn’t always perfect. And when we look to our spouses or our “fairy-tale dreams” as the sources of our happiness and fulfillment, we’ll usually be disappointed.

Only Jesus Christ can truly fulfill the deepest longings and desires of our feminine hearts. Before marriage, we often chase after temporary romantic flings, thinking that if we can only achieve the approval of the opposite sex, we’ll be happy and fulfilled. After marriage, we often chase after a specific ideal in our spouses, thinking that if we can only get our husbands to be as romantic (and wealthy!) as Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, we’ll be happy and fulfilled.

Due to a combination of trying life circumstances following our honeymoon, it didn’t take me long to figure out that my husband, Eric, couldn’t control the fleas that had infested the house we were renting, he couldn’t control the icy cold weather that wreaked havoc on our pipes and caused them to burst, and he couldn’t control the resulting tightness in our finances. He couldn’t sweep me away into a Jane Austen novel and rescue me from every discomfort I was facing. And as wonderful a husband as he was, he couldn’t meet every romantic desire of my heart, 24 hours a day. So I had a choice to make.

I could either gripe, complain, nag, and nitpick until my ideal picture of married life was finally met (which might be never), or I could turn to the true Lover of my soul, Jesus Christ, and find my happiness and fulfillment in Him alone.

I chose the latter. Though it wasn’t easy, I allowed Jesus Christ to be enough—to be everything I could ever want or need—even if none of my marriage dreams ever came true even if we lived in that flea-infested house for the rest of our lives, and even if we never had enough money for Eric to buy me one flower.

An amazing thing happened when I began to seek my joy, peace, and fulfillment in my relationship with Christ instead of in my marriage “ideal.” No longer was I looking to Eric (or to life circumstances) to meet needs that only my heavenly Prince could truly meet. And I found that I was able to treat Eric with a different attitude. Instead of always worrying about whether he was meeting my needs or fulfilling my romantic ideals, I was able to focus on serving him and giving to him.

The secret to a marriage thriving for a lifetime is selflessness. Nothing will kill a marriage faster than two people who are only concerned with meeting their own needs and desires. But nothing will cause the romance and beauty of a marriage to blossom like two people who put each other’s needs and desires above their own.

Eric has truly been shaped into a heroic prince and husband. He grows more sensitive toward me and more romantic as the years go by. But it’s not because I drop hints, criticize, or complain. It’s because I allow my intimate relationship with Jesus Christ to fulfill the deepest desires of my heart rather than putting that pressure upon Eric’s shoulders.

The reason that our love story thrives is because we make Jesus Christ our first love.

It’s true that newlyweds can take unhealthy expectations into marriage. When we expect our spouses to meet needs that only Christ can meet, we will be disappointed. But here is the crucial truth we must realize: If we allow our marriages to be a beautiful outflow of a passionate relationship with Christ, we will never be disillusioned. A marriage that keeps Christ at the center only gets more amazing with time.

Taken from: Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy. Copyright © 2008 by Winston and Brooks, Inc. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402, www.harvesthousepublishers.com. Used by permission.

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