Standard of Loving


photostock couple

(Image by Photostock, courtesy of

Occasionally we all hear stories of young married couples who are simply unrealistic about the standard of living they will have when they first start out. Sometimes they are spoiled and have a sense of entitlement, but more often they probably just haven’t stopped to consider all the years it took their parents to achieve the lifestyle they’re enjoying by middle age. When young adults have lived all their lives in a comfortable, well-appointed home in a good neighborhood (heck, lots of us have home gyms and maybe a pool)… when they’ve had late-model cars to drive and plenty of new clothes and access to the latest technology…when they’ve been on nice vacations and kicked back on nice furniture and never had to worry about much of anything in the way of material goods, getting married and surviving on entry-level paychecks must feel a lot like a step down.

A young wife and husband might look around at their humble abode and their meager bank balance and feel that something is very wrong; something must be corrected as soon as possible, because this is failure! They got married expecting to be free and happy, not to be less free and less happy than they were back home. Sometimes they are unable to tolerate a period of relative austerity, and they foolishly go into debt to keep up the style to which they’re accustomed. They may blame one another for overspending and under-earning. A wife, especially, may come to feel that her husband’s inability to give her all the things her parents gave her translates into an actual lack of love or dedication.

We should probably all prepare our children from the cradle to expect to start at the bottom of the ladder economically, so that while it may not be fun, at least it won’t be a shock to their systems.

But it occurs to me that young adults may also be failing to realize the years of work it took their parents to find happiness, comfort, and stability in their relationship. My daughter looks at my husband and me and knows that for all of our ups and downs (some of which she witnessed) we have a permanent bond. We’ve been united for as long as she can remember, and she has watched us reaching goals together, spending time together, and now finally settling in for the second half of life together. Meanwhile, though she has a long-term boyfriend, her future is still to be determined.

And my young work-friends in their twenties…they overhear the pleasant phone chats I have with my husband when he calls me during his lunch hour to ask about my day and discuss what we have planned for the evening. I often tell these young ladies funny stories about happenings at home, or mention our comfortable, well-worn marriage routines. Now  I know twenty-somethings never envy the middle-aged; I’m not flattering myself that much! But I do suspect that when their relationships are rocky, or just poorly defined (“Am I his girlfriend or just a casual date?” “Is this marriage really what I wanted?”)…they might be casting a slightly-wistful eye over at me, living in the land of Security.

But, oh, there is so much about us they don’t know! So much they will never be told about the trials we’ve gone through..the temper tantrums, the bad habits and attitudes that were eventually adjusted. I will never tell them some of the detrimental things we blithely did in pursuit of excitement, and I may not ever share the selfish, callous, mean-spirited things we did to break each other’s hearts. Incidents have occurred between my husband and me that were so painful, recovering from them took years.YEARS, I’m telling you, when there were no pleasant giggly lunchtime phone calls. YEARS when we went through the motions, but the love between us had gone underground.  

Thankfully, we’ve forgotten some of it ourselves, now that we’ve gotten the hang of marriage. All of us who have been blessed to be married a long time may get so comfortable that we forget what it was like to be otherwise, and neglect to tell our grown children or our younger sisters or friends that a happy marriage can take a very long time to finally solidify.

I hope these words will give encouragement to any young person reading them in the midst of a marriage struggle.  Don’t assume that your marriage is a failure because you and your husband don’t have the bond and camaraderie that your mom and dad may have. Don’t assume that because things seem to be in a million pieces today, the Lord can’t glue them back together tomorrow. In exactly the way that it takes years to earn material assets, it might take your marriage a while to find its groove. Persevere, pray, and determine to show your husband the same kind of love you did on your wedding day! Don’t worry right now what he’s giving you in return. You are responsible before God for  your OWN behavior, not his. So start there. (I feel compelled to say that if your husband is actually harming your or endangering your life, however, you should seek help.)

  To the more “seasoned” ladies, let’s make it a point this week to share with younger women that our marriages were not always well-oiled machines, but the rewards of staying together make the struggles so worthwhile.


(PS–If you never have, go to my “About Me” page for two pictures that might just make you smile. :-) )


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