As Jake and I have begun the journey of preparing to be married, we have seen that most aspects of our relationship have grown significantly more difficult. There is the pressure of planning the wedding, the busyness of life with Jake's student teaching and both of our commitments with Young Life, communication issues, my search for a career, physical struggles, and financial concerns. Some times I feel as if getting married is more of a burden than a joy in life. Compared to the big picture of life, falling in love is easy. Recently, I have let Satan allow me to be caught in the lie that now that we are engaged, life should be so much easier and so much more fun than our crazy dating experience. And like most of Satan's lies, there is partial truth to that. But God is revealing to me that the key to growing closer to Him and falling deeper in love with Jake is to see the struggles as a growing experience. I long so badly to be set free from the struggles we face. I get so consumed with just wanting to beg God to make everything easier, but He is showing me that instead of simply wanting things to change, I only need to focus on knowing Him. I think this is the same concept as focusing on the Giver rather than the gift. It's a very fine line to walk sometimes for me and I don't think that I am alone in that.
In his book Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs focuses on Ephesians 5:33 - "Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." My prayer for our relationship is that as we grow to learn more about each other and as we continue to seek Christ together for life, that we will not let this simple yet challenging truth be lost in the midst of our struggles. I feel like the issue of love and respect is a barrier that Jake and I consistently struggle with. I have a terrible habit of wanting to shut down when I feel unloved, and Jake tends to get angry when he feels disrespected. This has caused our relationship to be so much harder than necessary. I ask for your prayers as we dig deeper into these issues and are challenged by what the Lord has to teach us. In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he is not asking a man to love his wife and a woman to respect her husband, he is demanding it. Dr. Eggerichs writes that "when a husband feels disrespected, he has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel unloving to his wife, and when a wife feels unloved, she has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband." I pray that over the next few months, Jake and I will be more intentional about showing love and respect to each other. God has truly convicted me over this matter, and I am humbled because it is definitely an area where I struggle (even though I don't want to admit that.) I know that God is going to use this to grow us immensely, and I trust that he is going to use this book along with our struggles to reveal to us hard yet also beautiful truths about marriage.