When I was married, almost eight years ago, I was ill prepared. I was not aware of all the deficiencies in my own heart and life. With that said, I also know that no matter how much preparation I might have put into it (or my parents for that matter), I still would not have been prepared. The reason for this is plain and simple: I am a sinner. Sin tends to complicate things, it muddles, and messes. It is sticky and hard to get off. My wife is God's instrument for my holiness and sanctification. She has been used by God since day one to show me the immensity of my pride, selfishness, greed, impropriety, foolishness, and every other thing that I am too embarrassed to admit. Couples enter into marriage in a paradox. They are cursed, yet free (if the are Christians). What do I imply by the use of the word "cursed?" Go back to Genesis and read. God cursed the man and the woman. We live with the effects of our fall- and there is no other relationship where this is more evidently seen than in marriage. God calls us back to Himself in the gospel. But, just as my wife taught me the depth of my depravity; so we together are learning the effects of Adam's fall. The clearest evidence of this- we will be separated from each other someday. Either she will go first or I will...from dust you came, and to dust you shall return.
I don't mean to be pessimistic here, but realistic. People who go into marriage thinking that everything will be rosey and romantic all the time are flat out deceived. As Christians, we tend to shun the term "curse" as it related to our marriages. But ask any godly couple to recount their growth and progress in the gospel and their marriage. I was ill prepared in my character, lifestyle, and mind. I thought I knew all the answers- I was proud. I thought, "Yeah I know I am sinful and she is sinful and that is all there is." I didn't realize the depth of those implications as they are traced back to the garden. There is a sweet and bitter providence evidenced here: we are taught to put ourselves aside for the sake of the other. To grow out of ourselves and into Jesus who has redeemed us. Growth out of the garden and into the Kingdom is slow, hard, and not for the faith of heart. But God is with us! Immanuel. God gives us a standard to use as we grow and the most beautiful passage is found in Ephesians five. "Husbands, love your wives and Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Wives submit to your husbands..."