Tara had a difficult engagement. When Seamus proposed she said yes, but just barely.
She was anxiety-ridden for the following three weeks, just not sure if this was the right decision for her. She gained 7 pounds from binge eating (one of the vices she fought). It was awkward for everyone. All of Seamus' friends, and even her own could see the discomfort on her face when they came by on the boat (their surprise) in the park after he proposed.
And she felt the weight and worry of all their friends as well. She had gotten a lecture from her mentor that said marriage is hard, and that if she did this she had to be ready to serve her husband, even when she didn't feel like it. Unlike most brides-to-be, she already knew what it was like to not always feel it.
But she went away one weekend, just by herself, to think and pray.
And when she came back she was a different woman. She was in it. She told Seamus that even though she had days of vastly wavering emotion, she was resolved to love him well as his wife.
But not to love him like most happy-go-lucky bright eyes couples think they will love each other after they walk from the aisle into normal life. She had made resolutions to herself, and laid them out in a three part plan so that she could stay consistent with them even when she didn't feel like it. The plan in her journal read:
I plan to exercise 30 minutes every day, to stay in shape for Seamus
[she wasn't super attracted to Seamus but she resolved, at least I can give that to him]
I will learn to cook (starting with five meals) so I can cook five days a week for Seamus.
[She knew Seamus tended toward traditional household roles, and even though he said she didn't have to, she chose to serve him in that way]
I will reach out to one of my friends each week
[she knew Seamus wished she kept up with her friendships better]
One year into marriage, when a couple of her friends were newly struggling with their own marriages, they marveled at the wife she had become. "We were a little worried," several of them said. "We thought you might be the type to run or something. But now you have a healthier marriage than we do."
She shook her head as if she didn't understand why. But when the mentor met with one of the other young wives, one with a struggling marriage she said, "I know exactly why Tara and Seamus are doing so well. She got into marriage ready to serve when she doesn't feel like it. Most people get into it because before they're married, they think they'll want to love their spouse all the time."
When things seem hard, it may not be the evidence that something is wrong. It may just be that you see the sin inside you before anyone else. And this is a gift because then you can start to address it.
This story based on many of the principals expounded upon by Timothy Keller in "Meaning of Marriage."