When I was 10-years-old, I had a letter-writing kit that included a four-foot piece of stationery. My pre-teen self thought the best use for this looong sheet of paper was for the ultimate list: my future husband checklist. I wrote a comprehensive summary of non-negotiable characteristics — everything from his height and eye color to his favorite pet and favorite movie genre. I was almost as tall as the list! I knew exactly what I was looking for. And since I would marry someone who fit all my requirements, our marriage would be easy-peasy.

William Shakespeare once said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”  Experience has taught me that real life and real relationships are tough. I’ve learned that I can’t write a list equal to my height and expect life to roll out exactly like I planned (can’t blame a girl for trying!). What my 10-year-old self didn’t realize is that we are all broken people. As long as we are living on this side of heaven, we are not immune to falling sick in mind, body or spirit. Our spouse isn’t going to morph into a pre-conceived idea of what a “better half” should be like.

In the pursuit of our own happily ever after, John Paul II reminds us:

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. …”

Marriage is hard. That’s a given. But as followers of Jesus, we’ve been let into the (not-so-secret) recipe for true and everlasting joy: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

If you’re standing on rocky ground, don’t be afraid to seek help. Take your brokenness and bring it to the foot of the cross of Jesus and ask Him to make you whole. Invite the Holy Spirit and let Him lead you as you continue to live out the mystical reality of being united in mind, body and spirit. Let God show you what love really looks like!

As it turned out, my husband doesn’t have the “right” eye color and he failed the pet and movie categories. Thankfully, my four-foot list was destroyed in a flood, rendering it invalid.

Media thanks to Igniter Media

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Photo Credit: Andreas Rønningen