These wise words, spoken by Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, inspired me years ago.
Have you ever noticed that when the marriage pledge is repeated, "Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, and do you promise to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep you only unto him as long as you both shall live?", the required response is not, "I'm going to try."
I'll do my best. I mean, at least until he stops telling me I'm beautiful. Or until he starts irritating me with his snoring...or his habit of throwing his socks at the hamper and missing...Every. Single. Time. Or until he questions me for spending $75 for a pair of jeans that, in his opinion, look exactly the same as the $15 ones on sale at Old Navy. Or until he leaves his oatmeal-encrusted bowl on the bedside table for the hundredth time.
I mean, come on. There's a limit, right? Doesn't he get me at all? After 10 years, when I ask if an outfit makes me look fat, does he seriously think I really want to know? For crying out loud, "Are you kidding, honey? You look amazing! In everything! By the way, have you lost weight?" should be his response. What idiot doesn't know that after all this time?
After all this time.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda told Luke Skywalker, "Do or do not. There is no try." Perhaps this should be added on to the question in our vows.
It gets tough. It gets really arduous and dang-near impossible to love for the long haul. We are all so different. We need different things. Some of us need tender words of reassurance on a daily basis. Some of us need someone to hold our hand in public, or to feel that when we speak, listening is the true priority. Regardless of your innate “love language”, your spouse was not put on the earth to meet your needs.
Read that sentence again, out loud.
Regardless of your innate “love language”, your spouse was not put on the earth to meet your needs.
The very existence of The Almighty is proof that there is One and only One fit to cover that treacherous territory. Christ alone.
He is all and in all. The very Word of God says that He is “intimately acquainted with all my ways.” That means Jesus gets me. He’s not rolling His holy eyes in exasperation when I decide (after decades of marriage) that I, in fact, do not enjoy huevos rancheros. I like my eggs over medium. He is my ever-present (omnipresent), all-knowing (omniscient), all-powerful (omnipotent) Friend and the Lover of my jacked-up soul. In fact, only Jesus could really love me the way I am. And if that statement is really true, then how can two people coexist in harmony till death parts them?
It’s impossible; without divine intervention, it is utterly impossible.
My wise mother has been saying it for as long as I’ve known her—“Nothing works without Jesus.” She ain’t never lied about that. So why do we humans not get this? Why are continually setting ourselves up for disappointment and frustration—over half of us to the point of splitting up—when our expectations are safely held in the hands of our good and benevolent Father, Son, and sweet Holy Spirit?
Those dadgum unrealistic expectations. Where do they come from anyway? (This is by no means an exhaustive list.)
The insidious comparison game. Don’t unfriend me, but married people on social media are the worst offenders.
Oh come on, you know who you are. You struggle not to kill one another in private, but your Instagram looks like the poster couple for a blissful life together. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook and all the other social media platforms should never be the place to vent your frustration with your spouse! If you are in the habit of doing that—stop it. But we are all so driven by comparison, and the tendency to embellish things is just as egregious, especially when it’s just not true.
Then how in the world are we to make it through this tough row to hoe? Can we really stay together till one of us is called home to heaven without being miserable? Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes.
“Do or do not, there is no try.”
You put on your big girl panties, every single morning, and look your marriage in the eye and say, “We are doing this. We are doing this for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, yada-yada-yada. We’re doing it. We are going to make it. I am going to love PEACE more than winning. I am going to serve my beloved spouse. I am going to overlook his/her faults and crow about his/her attributes. He cares about this more than I can imagine and He is going to give me the love and the strength and the patience (holla) and the tenacity to do this.” It’s so worth it, I promise you.
Now get out there and do it.
Postscript: I understand that there are situations where a person leaves the marriage and is not even open to work it out. It is heartbreaking. But when two people have a desire to stay married, it's more than possible; it is both a beautiful and terrifying journey. To all of you out there in the trenches of married life--love is war, but you BOTH can win. Peace to you all.