Katie and I spent the weekend at a marriage conference in Hershey, PA. I shared that with several friends over the weekend and although they didn't, I sensed they wanted to ask if Katie and I were having marital problems. If they had, it's possible I would have said yes.
Some of you might be shocked by that. If so, you're either not married, a newlywed (and I'm talking within the last few minutes), or living at some level of denial about the problems in your own marriage. Because here is the reality: marriage is one big problem, especially after kids come along. That is not a negative statement; it's an honest one. Couples that own up to that the quickest and abandon problem hiding for problem solving make the most of their marriages. Given that these days only 50% of them survive at all, owning up wouldn't appear to be a great strength in many of today's marriages.
I think Katie and I have always navigated the day to day challenges that come with marriage and raising two boys well. Problem solvers can never have too many tools, though, so we decided to attend the marriage conference in search of a few new ones. It was a bit surprising to find a thousand other couples joining us.
I learned a great deal this weekend. But more than anything the conference taught me, it reminded me what an incredible wife I have. In the bible, Genesis 2:18 says: Then the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. I realize a segment of our society uses that verse as evidence men are greater than women and are to rule over them. They are obviously unaware of or are ignoring that Christ, in the same bible, called himself our helper. Be sure he did so without suggesting that we are greater than him or are in any way his ruler.
Just 5 months before Katie and I got married, I was a 35 year old man fully committed to being the bachelor of the year every year for the rest of my life. I often said I had enough work on my plate without adding the lifelong job of marriage to my resume. Unless I found a woman that would make marriage effortless, I wasn't getting married. I said it with a cocky self-assurance that woman didn't exist.
Then along came Katie. We went on a couple of dates, fell in love, and over the next several months I reluctantly admitted I was dead wrong; the effortless marriage was possible. So 5 months after our first date we flew off to the Virgin Islands and got married. About a month later I discovered I had been right all along. Marriage was hard.
What I didn't know at the time and have discovered since, though, was that although God hadn't sent me an effortless marriage, he sent me one with a helper fit for me. He sent a wife who miraculously turns my weaknesses into contributions, my habits and hangups into examples of forgiveness, my simplest of words into stories. God baited me with visions of the perfect girl only to switch her out with the only one capable of fitting perfectly with me. He sold me on paradise, but instead sent the only helper capable of seeing paradise in me, imperfections and all.
People ask me all the time - where do you stand on the marriage issue. And my answer is this. Marriage is hard. For me it would be impossible without calling upon it the daily blessings of God, and the gift he sent me in Katie - the helper fit for me. I thank God every day for being the unbreakable in the bond Katie and I share, and quite frankly, I can't take a stronger stance than that on the marriage issue.