A Love That Endures

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In the last post, Addicted to Love, I touched briefly upon the idea of “soul mates” and the unrealistic expectations we often take away from fictional stories. Today we’re going to take a closer look at the difference between reality and fantasy in our search for true love. A love that endures.

Seasons, cycles, mountains and valleys, every life has ups and downs, and so too does every relationship. We’re all familiar with the words “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,” and we know that these words are almost always promised from a mountain top in a relationship and not from a valley. When we pledge to love, honor, and cherish our spouse until one of us breathes our last breath, we all hope that our love story will have the longevity to last the better part of a century, and that death will truly be the only thing strong enough to separate us. In that honeymoon phase we think we’ve already found true love. The truth is, we’re only just beginning on the journey to discover it. True love is something that is proven over time; something refined and strengthened by the fires of life.

Think right now about the most powerful and inspirational real life love story you’ve ever seen. I’m going to guess that there was likely great adversity overcome; adversity so great that only true love could withstand it. These are the stories that move us to tears. These are the stories that restore our faith in humanity and in love. I have seen relationships that have withstood life altering accidents that forever change the way one of the spouses looks or acts. I have seen couples stick together through tragic loss, financial bankruptcy, and crippling illness. Have you ever been to a wedding where they get all of the married couples out dancing and then slowly have them sit down until only the couple that has been married the longest remains? They inevitably receive resounding applause because we all know that a marriage that survives for 50, 60, or 70 years is something worth celebrating. Nothing lasts that long without seeing its fair share of hardships. So how can this change the way we view our own marriages?

"It's all about love" by Candida.Performa https://flic.kr/p/6ZWzRB

“It’s all about love” by Candida.Performa
https://flic.kr/p/6ZWzRB

As discussed in the previous post, we see “soul mates” being portrayed in a relationship that is blissful and easy. I wonder that we ever confuse this with true love when the most poignant examples of true love are those that are proven through endurance not ease. How many of us have hit dry seasons and valleys in our relationships and felt like maybe it just wasn’t meant to be? Sadly, we’ve all seen loved ones separate when the pressure and tension of life reaches a breaking point. What makes some couples stick it out when others throw in the towel? And how can we have our marriages beat the odds and someday be the last couple standing at our great-grandchild’s wedding?

My husband and I have been married for 13 years. It may not seem like a lot when the end goal is 70, but even 13 years has been long enough to throw us some real curve balls. My battle with ulcerative colitis has by far been the longest ongoing stressor on our marriage, and one we certainly didn’t see coming on the sunny, August afternoon when we said our vows. There have been a lot of tears, a multitude of days filled with just getting by, and way too much of getting to know the not-so-beautiful parts of me (It’s a bowel disease… enough said!). We’ve been frustrated. We’ve been tired, really, REALLLLY bone-tired exhausted! We’ve gone through the motions and had long stretches of time that weren’t particularly lovey dovey, blissful, or easy. Nine years of battling illness takes its toll, but through it all we were committed, we were a team, and at the end of the day we were a family. We didn’t see chronic illness on the horizon, but my husband has definitely honored his “in sickness and in health” vow. And you know what? Our love is deeper and more true than it was on that August afternoon 13 years ago. We’re more a part of each other with every new chapter written in the story of us.

If you’ve found yourself in a marriage with some rough patches, take heart; you’re in good company. Every great love story has been tested in the fire. Challenges are an opportunity to grow together in trust and in faith. When we see the weakest and most raw parts of each other we can begin to know and understand each other more deeply, and we find our most honest acceptance in those places. Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean you’re not soul mates. After all, the true soul mates are the ones who keep on fighting until only death parts them. The true soul mates are the ones who have found a love that endures.

 

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About inspiredencouraged

Thank you for visiting Inspired Encouraged! My name is Heather. I'm a wife and stay-at-home mama to two beautiful blessings. I started this blog because I felt God's calling on my life to encourage others with the words He gives me to write. Creativity feeds my soul. When I'm not writing, I love to spend time designing gardens and home decor, then watching the designs come to life as my hubby and I complete our DIY projects. God has used many things in my life to shape and refine me, one of which is chronic illness. Through the years that I have wrestled and fought and cried through my illness, I have also grown in faith as I've seen God bring beauty out of the ashes. Looking back I can now say that He has truly worked all things for my good, even the darkest and most painful times. God is faithful! I invite you to subscribe and follow me on this journey. My prayer is that together we will grow in faith, we'll learn to not sweat the small stuff, we'll laugh and cry, and that God will use these words to leave us both inspired and encouraged!

13 responses »

  1. Beautiful post, Heather. However I must disagree with you in one thing, it’s not just about the numbers. Just because two people stick it out for 50 yrs or more doesn’t mean that they’re soulmates and have grown stronger together through the trials and tribulations. Couples DO get broken by life, yet STILL stay together–and I find that so very sad.

    It’s not just about the numbers it’s about learning through the life fires and growing stronger together, not growing more bitter yet enduring because they’re too scared to not. Sadly, it’s not always love and positive things that makes people achieve longevity in a marriage.

    In my optimism, I remain adamant that that’s the goal. That our faith, love, respect, honesty and loyalty will grow through the years of our marriage and they will help sustain us during the difficult times. It ain’t easy–’cause John and I are so very very different, however our core beliefs are the congruent and we are best friends. That’s what has kept us together these past 31.5 yrs.

    But we would never stay together because of “the kids”, or because one is too dependent upon the other, or because it’s easier than separating our finances or starting over or because we’re afraid to be alone or the multitude of other reasons I believe people stay in bad marriages.

    We don’t want it to just be about the numbers, we want to grow together in our love, respect and all things positive to become better people together–a better team that will set a good example of our children and grandchildren.

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    • Thanks for the thoughtful response, Theresa! I completely agree with you that it isn’t about the numbers, and that there are certainly couples that have been married for several decades that have grown further and further apart as the years have gone by. However, for those that are happily married after all of those decades, my goal was to highlight that they likely didn’t just blissfully glide into their golden anniversary, but that they faced trials and tribulations just like everyone else, yet weathered them together in a way that strengthened their relationship. I realize that some relationships are abusive or fraught with infidelity. While I do think in some cases even those challenges can be overcome with help, I am not trying to judge the inner workings of anyone’s relationship, or to say that people should stay together no matter what. My hope is to encourage those that are facing a dry season or time of hardship that shouldering down and getting in the trenches together can often lead to a better place on the other side of pain. I have experienced this with my illness as well. There have been times when it felt like I would never see remission again and it’s hard to feel like it’s even worth fighting anymore. When remission would eventually come again, it was like the sun coming out from behind a dark cloud. We have to believe that there is joy and peace on the other side of the valley that’s worth pushing toward. I’ve thought before that our love might not survive, and yet, here we are, more in love than ever. I just don’t want people to give up too quickly because they hit a valley and think that means it’s over forever.

      You make a lot of good points, and I particularly like the part where you say that you “are so very very different, however our core beliefs are the congruent and we are best friends.” I feel like this is true in our marriage as well. The love and respect you share are definitely a wonderful example for your kids! Thanks again for commenting!

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  2. Thanks for your post, Heather- I love your thoughts on relationships and seeing adversity as an opportunity for growth. Haha I’m just an unmarried, 19 year-old-guy, but I think enduring, growing love between a husband and wife is such a beautiful thing. I’m really grateful to have parents who were such a great example of this, who are ‘best friends’ even when times get really hard. I can’t speak from personal experience, but I really hope to have this kind of relationship in the future- to stick it out with my best friend, for better of for worse. I think love and growing together is something really powerful- I don’t know if you’re spiritual at all, but I think it’s something that goes beyond death, and that marriage, love and families are forever!

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Taylor! That’s awesome that your parents have been such a great example for you! I too have been blessed with parents who have a solid and loving marriage, and it is truly a gift! We can get so beaten down watching relationships crumble around us. It sounds like you’ve had the opportunity to see their love weather some storms, and it’s given you a realistic perspective on life and love. That perspective will serve you well when you marry your own best friend one day. I hope you find a love that endures, and that the two of you will grow together through whatever challenges you face!

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