God's Best for Your Marriage and Why I Hate the Word "Settle"

My husband and I just celebrated our seven year wedding anniversary and I couldn't feel more honored to be his wife.  Cliche to say, he truly is my person.  I revel in the late night conversations as we sew together vision for the future of our family and the belly laughs shared on long car rides.  I feel blessed to raise our three children along side him as over the years we have created a true partnership.  And it continues to grow stronger every day.  And most of all, I am beside myself with joy as look deep into the man that God has molded him to be.  A man who makes haste to ease my anxieties, who pushes the limits of my faith, who encourages me in my talents and abilities, who points me to Jesus, always.

All this to say, you will know if you have been following my writing for a while, that I once had a hard time believing that year three of our marriage would survive to see the light of day let alone year seven.  I was 23-years old and on the verge of divorce, all in all because I had come to the conclusion that I had settled in marrying a man who couldn't meet the vision I had for my life.  I was bitter and resentful a therefore the best option I had conjured up was to get out and start over with someone who would better suit me.

As a young woman of faith going through such a difficult time in my marriage I was DESPERATE to find a similar story to mine.  One that had gone through the thick of wedded misery and come out on the other side.  That wasn't the case for me.  Instead I found myself knee deep in a pool of comparison.  I took to books and blogs and YouTube videos to find a Christian point of view on marriage and one of the most common threads I found was this idea of settling. 

Now this gets a little tricky because most of the time it was addressed around the premise of dating.

"Are you dating someone who is pressuring you into sex?"

"Are you dating someone who is showing signs of jealousy?"

"Are you dating someone who you constantly fight with?"

"If the answer is yes, then you are settling for less than God's best for you."

And this is where my loyalty against the word settling gets split because if you were to present these red flags to me, as a married woman, to ask for my dating advice I would probably tell you that you would need to get out of the relationship.  I say that because although Bryan and I's dating relationship wasn't all bad (after all I married him) it was filled to the brim with "red flags."  Too many to list them all here.  But at the end of the day we did a lot of things outside of God's good design for romantic relationships and I believe that the first three years of our marriage suffered because of it.  I wouldn't want another couple to have to experience the precious first years of their marriage in the same way we did.
But here is where I believe throwing the word "settle" around without good thought can get dangerous:  there are plenty of couples who have failed to heed warning and have walked down the aisle anyway.  It would be easy for those couples to fall in step with comparison by saying, "wait, we didn't do this thing right.  Instead of praying we were fighting, instead of encouragement there was jealousy, instead of protecting each other's hearts we were having sex."

I've been there and it really, really hurt.  It's not that God doesn't use those examples for His glory.  He will and does absolutely use what is good and true to prepare couples for marriage in the best way possible but there are people who need to hear a different story because not all are the same.

So, if you are struggling in your marriage, let me be the one to come along side you and tell you that you haven't settled.  Unless you are experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse your place is in your current marriage.  God's best for you is not in some other relationship that you missed out on because you chose to marry your spouse.

Maybe you are settling for something else in your marriage.  Maybe it's resentment or anger or maybe even regret but don't let it lead to settling for a divorce.  God's very, very best for you is just within reach.  My own marriage has been shoved into some dark places by my own resentful heart but there came a time where I had to decide that I was going to let God pull us out by His long reach.  It took six months of devoted pleading through prayer for Him to spark a change.  And then my husband and I followed Him as He lead us into a new place.  We have watched God give us His best as we fully surrendered something that we once thought was broken.

God has blessed us with three beautiful children.  He has blessed our finances and our intimacy.  Jealousy has given way and God has replaced it with great vision for our future.  He has replaced thick and heavy grudges with the lightness of joy and laughter.  Now, there is more room for grace and understanding as we face the everyday challenges of life.  Two angry people living separately under the same roof finally became one.

I am over the moon about my husband, the man of God that I decided to marry on a hot day in Tennessee when I probably wasn't ready.  But God has time to ready your heart wherever you already happen to be.  That is the great mystery and the great splendor of His character.  My husband, our family, and I are in the midst of God's best and I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is even better bests yet to come.  And when I really sit with myself alone in silence I am so glad that I didn't let that bitter woman inside of me, four years ago persuade me to walk away before I got to see this glimpse of what my God is truly capable of!

So married couples, listen good.  Don't you dare fall into the lie that you have settled.  Get busy in prayer and surrender.  When things seem to get a little harder before they get better, hold one a little longer.  Your best is coming.  It's coming in promise and plenty!