By: Yolanda Conrad
(Co-founder of ‘In the Trenches, Too’)
“…And they lived happily ever after. The End.”
Most fairy tales have this very conclusion and lead us to believe that our own lives should follow that same trajectory. We should meet our prince, get married, and be whisked off into the sunset to start a life full of joy ever after. This perception doesn’t always mirror reality, and when that happens, we often contemplate whether there is something wrong with our marriages. I’m no relationship expert or marriage counselor, but being a Christ-follower and the wife of a U.S. Army Officer for 23 years, experience, and the Holy Spirit have been my teachers. What they have taught me is marriage isn’t a fairy tale, so every moment isn’t going to be full of bliss. It is hard work, and it must be maintained and attended to Every. Single. Day. Why? Because the enemy is out to attack and destroy marriages because this institution symbolizes the relationship Christ has with us. Jesus is coming back for His bride (the church). Our marriages are to be an example to the world of Jesus’ relationship with us. No wonder the enemy stirs up trouble within our unions. So just because we may have some strife in our marriages doesn’t mean we cannot live “happily ever after.”
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1: “…To everything there is a season.” This means that marriage has its seasons — days of growth, stagnation, weeping, and laughter. Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes names some of the seasons of life that are also applicable to our marriages: “a time to heal, a time to build up, a time to laugh, a time to embrace, a time to keep silent and a time to speak.” There may be seasons where we need to heal from ill-spoken words or deeds. There may be seasons where we have to embrace unexpectedness in the form of new military assignments or a new baby. There will be seasons of joy and peace, and there will be seasons where we have to keep silent and let the Holy Spirit fix things. In my own marriage, we have experienced seasons of struggle and triumph, happiness and sadness, peace, and turmoil – just as I’m sure many of you have. These experiences and the Holy Spirit have taught me that each moment makes up the “happily ever after.” Yes, the good and the bad seasons are all a part of the “happily ever after.” When you include God in your marriage, He will help you through the not-so-pleasant seasons that we all go through.
My late grandfather once told me that “nothing good comes easy.” I think about that statement every time something seems overly challenging. Building a career, raising a family, and being married are all good things — but none of those things come easily. Anything of value has to be maintained. Our homes, our cars, our children, and our marriages all require a little TLC. Even when these things aren’t in their best condition, they can still be enjoyed. Right? We can still enjoy our home even if the carpet needs to be vacuumed or furniture dusted. We can still enjoy our cars even if they need to be washed. The same holds true for our marriage. We can still enjoy our union even in the midst of a difficult season. Our marriages need attention, care, prayer, forgiveness, and a commitment to work through every season together with God.
Happily ever after is attainable. It isn’t “One-Size-Fits-All,” as fairy tales would have us to believe. Everyone’s “happily ever after” looks different because we are all different people married to different spouses. The key to living happily ever after is to appreciate your life exactly as it is (barring any abuse or illegal activity). The areas that need change and growth should be given to God. Paul mentions in Philippians 4:11 (NIV), “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” This is no easy feat, but with a little work and help from the Lord, we can be content in every season of our happily ever after.
What season is your marriage in? Make it a time of prayer, renewal, and rebuilding. Embrace your season, work through your season, and know that you can live “happily ever after” in spite of the challenges and because of Christ.
Written By: Yolanda Conrad
*Yolanda has been an Army wife for 23 years. Her husband is a Black Hawk Pilot. They have three daughters, ages 19, 13, and 8. Yolanda is the co-founder of “In the Trenches, Too” – a faith-based web site for military spouses.