July 25, 2017 by Katy Epling
My husband Jon and I had been married just over a year when we decided to build a new house. A builder by trade, Jon drew the plans. We got to design our home from the ground up. We spent the next twelve months carefully crafting the space where we would raise our family, host our friends, and do life together. It was incredible to watch it all come together, first on paper, then on the land we had chosen.
I love the metaphor of building a house for marriage. It applies not only in the initial building project, but in the ongoing maintenance as well. We have now been in our home for almost fourteen years, and we never stop improving. We have added a playset and landscaping to the backyard, renovated our basement after a flood, repainted kids’ rooms. Owning a home takes intentional and consistent work, just like a marriage.
Honestly, we might never have tackled homebuilding if we had taken to heart much of the advice we heard. Almost every time we told someone about our plans, they declared something like, “Wow, you’re brave! Building a house together is a real test of a marriage! I remember the fight we had over <insert issues of utmost importance, such as door knobs, trim colors, and/or bathroom light fixtures>!” Over and over, we were warned as to how hard the process would be.
In reality, we had a blast building our home together! We loved watching the design we had dreamed together come to fruition. Walking through at various stages to see the progress was exhilarating. We hoped and dreamed and prayed over each step, and we did it together.
Have you ever taken a moment and listened to the way we talk to young couples about marriage? We like to remind everyone that marriage is hard and takes work—and it’s true. Just like a house, a solid marriage takes intention and planning and patience. But is that really the lead we want to use? Isn’t marriage—spending the rest of your life with the person you love most in the world—also meant to be fulfilling, beautiful, and even fun?
When people walk into my house, I hope they don’t think, “This looks like it took a lot of work to build.” Instead, I want them to see the beauty that we have created with our space and think of the fun we have with our family and friends. The work is still necessary and even has a beauty of its own. But when our primary focus is on the toil, labor, and arguments (yes, there were a few!) that went into the project, we lose sight of the big picture. We start looking at bricks and fixtures, and we lose the beauty of the house.
Similarly, I hope no one looks at my marriage and thinks, “Wow, I bet they work hard to make that work!” Yikes! I want my marriage to radiate the love and joy and even fun of our relationship—the fruit of our labor.
When you step back and look at your marriage, where is your focus? Do you allow the work to create a beautiful, fun relationship, an image of Christ and the church? Or do you get bogged down in the toil, forgetting the big picture?
This week, take time to admire what you and your spouse have built with God’s help. Enjoy the memories, think about the ways you have grown, and have some fun together. As you work on your marriage, may your focus be on the beauty that is created.