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Scratch-and-Dent Marriage

I sometimes wonder if our marriage has lost its newlywed beauty

Mike and I recently attended a wedding. The bride was stunning, and the groom gleamed with pride. Not a dry eye in the place. Weddings are beautiful—not just because of the music, flowers, dresses, and tuxes, but also because they represent young, unblemished love. Like the birth of a child, the beginning of a new family holds unending promise and boundless dreams that have not yet been tarnished by conflict and foolish choices.

I'm not sure about you, but my marriage feels like it would now qualify for a "scratch and dent" sale. After 19 years and three children, my husband and I have weathered some storms. Compared to the optimistic and glistening love of those recently married, I sometimes wonder if our marriage has lost its newlywed beauty. After all, rarely in the throes of family life do Mike and I gaze adoringly into each other's eyes.

Instead of discovering one another with amazement, we finish each other's sentences and politely laugh at the same jokes we have heard countless times over the years. Has the splendor faded with the monotony and trials of everyday life?

Christ's strength and glory do not shine through our perfection but through showing each other his grace in the midst of our weakness and disappointment.

When I look at my marriage from a different perspective, one the world resists, I can see visions of beauty that make our wedding day look drab. Sure, the house is messy, our three boys are loud, our schedules are busy, and romance is a rare commodity. But the miracle of living alongside a man who knows me inside and out, yet still loves me, is priceless. The bumps and challenges, harsh words spoken, and tears shed over the years have left a dent or two. But I can choose to view those imperfections as a priceless exhibition of God's grace rather than a fairy tale thwarted.

Wherever you are in your marriage, no doubt you have some scratches and dents, too. Perhaps you are even tempted to see those imperfections as a sign that you are "settling for less." Take heart in a biblical principle: Christ's strength and glory do not shine through our perfection but through showing each other His grace in the midst of our weakness and disappointment.

I had the privilege of watching my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Their bodies showed the wear and tear of their lives and the lines on their faces spoke to the trials they had gone through together. Yet their eyes sparkled with a love that went far beyond their initial "I do." Through them, I saw the beauty of a lived-out commitment that put even the most romantic wedding celebration to shame.

What do you see when you look at your marriage?

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Juli Slattery is a widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional. She co-founded Authentic Intimacy, and is co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Juli Slattery

Juli Slattery is a TCW regular contributor and blogger. A widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional, she co-founded Authentic Intimacy and is the co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?

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