By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
My friends and I stood in the check-out line where our eyes were assailed with various tips about ways to spice up relationships. Headlines like, “9 Types of Sex to Reignite Your Marriage,” or “How to Save Your Marriage by Having an Open Marriage.”
I picked up one of the magazines belly-laughing over one of the tips. In fact, I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants (as all mothers do). Perplexed by my behavior, my friends asked what was so funny about the headlines.
“Thank God my marriage is so boring and ordinary,” I said between fits of laughter. I was officially obligated to explain to my them how I managed to be married for 20 years. “What is so great about a boring marriage?” they asked. I imagine you may be asking yourself the same question.
Boring is beautiful. Boring is ordinary. While my husband hasn’t chased me down in an airport to profess his undying love for me or shown up at my door in a limo prepared to fly me away from reality, he has walked with me hand in hand thousands of times around the sun. He’s gone to Wal-Mart at Mid-night for milk. He’s helped clean up puke and put money into savings instead towards his dream boat.
Chris and I met in high school. We sat next to each other in home economics and started dating when I was 15. We got married two weeks after my 18th birthday and it still feels like it was yesterday.
We work 8 to 5, raise three kids together, we talk about what we’re planning for dinner, or if we’re going to meet at the gym. Once we get through the typical night of dinner, kids, chores, and the bedtime routine, we find ourselves going for a walk talking about anything and everything. This boring, unremarkable love spends Friday nights at one of three places in our small-town community, dancing to an indie band, watching movies with our kids, or eating sushi at one of our favorite places. It’s always one of the three or sometimes all three.
Whether I’m dressed to the nines in a little black dress or wearing a sports bra with no makeup, I won’t find myself crying, hurt, or insecure because I don’t have to worry catching his eyes traveling over another woman’s body. Sadly enough, many couples who end their marriage do so because one of the partners “got bored.”
Our culture is saturated with the message that marriages need to spiced up, kinky, or full of drama. Watch any movie that has a relationship plot. We’re force fed to believe that unless our relationships are filled with action, intense passion and drama like the movies Titanic, 27 Dresses, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, etc. then we must do something to save it before it ends in divorce.
Or maybe you feel stuck in a boring marriage. The mundane day in and day out eats at you and you aren’t sure what to do about it. When your marriage hits the boredom rut, remember to keep choosing your spouse, keep turning to him. Why? Because Christ sees you. He knows you and he keeps choosing you.
Maybe you got caught in in the big moments of dating, the wedding day, the honeymoon, buying the new home and having your first child. These moments are fresh in our memories and we base our future from them. It’s easy to get swept up in the feelings and memories but Paul reminds us of our identity. We were not just chosen by our spouse; we were chosen by God first. He loved us first.
Marriage isn’t about the big moments but the moments in between, the day to day. It’s the boring moments in between that make a break a marriage. It boils down to perspective.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-17
Here are seven reasons why boring marriages are beautiful:
1. There’s always an opportunity to serve
Nowhere in the vows do I recall saying yes to 18 loads of laundry and scrubbing toilets. Nor do I recall saying yes to the pain of bearing my husband’s children, much less the chore of changing diapers. And I’m pretty sure he doesn’t remember saying yes to cooking meals, grocery shopping, or fixing the vacuum when he’s had a long day.
But that’s the great thing about boring marriages, there’s nothing sexy about chores unless you’re doing them together because you’re doing it for each other. It’s the most ordinary but powerful way to say you love your spouse.
How great is it that you don’t have to worry about piling on the make up or making sure you have enough money for reservations at that five-star restaurant? Most people marry for love but ultimately because they feel accepted and secure. Security in a marriage means your spouse feels like home. You know every nook and cranny of their personality, which creaky floorboards to avoid and how to keep the thermostat at a comfortable temperature.
Consider the fact that the Bible is full of marriages that were less than secure (King David and his wife Michal, Bathsheba, Abigail plus a few concubines. Hosea was instructed by God to marry Gomer, a prostitute. Then there’s Esther. She had to gamble with her life just to make an announced appearance before her king and husband). Security is a blessing.
There’s a myth that contentment breeds complacency. Quite the contrary in marriage. Contentment breeds satisfaction. The steadiness of a boring marriage invites both partners to create clear expectations as well as steady ground to grow together in those expectations. We aren’t chasing after people, places, things, degrees or other accolades.
Give me flag football practice and excel sheets planning our future instead of a whirlwind of courtships and high drama movie endings. Give me slow and steady. Give me Saturday projects and Sunday morning dressed in our best.
I was so excited to find my orchid budding that I texted a picture to my husband. It took months of slow and steady nurturing to get it to grow. Unlike other plants that seem to bloom over night or grow quickly for a season, orchids thrive in stable care in order to grow. Marriages are like orchids. They need a good temperature, nurturing, plenty of water and sunlight. It takes stability!
A stable marriage has been known to improve your sleep, your health, lower stress levels, less issues with mental health and to increase the longevity of your life. No one gets married hoping to have a rocky marriage where the day to day routine is unpredictable, whether or not vows will be honored or whether or not their spouse really loves them. Stability translates to routine and that allows room for growth individually and separately.
Brene Brown once said, “What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” The ability to be vulnerable is often the bedrock of a marriage. Ordinary moments allow for growth and a chance for couples to connect and be vulnerable. Opening your heart and sharing your tender places with your spouse creates real intimacy and connection. It removes uncertainty and secrets.
A boring marriage is the most natural place to share your true and deep feelings.
6. The Sex Is Better
One evening I handed the keys to my Traverse to my husband. He couldn’t get it to start and was perplexed. Immediately I knew what was wrong and helped him. “Oh, you have to jiggle the key up a notch and turn the steering wheel all the way to the right.”
Familiarity is very much a strength regardless of what our society tells us. We are well acquainted with our spouse’ body. We know it like our own skin. That knowledge has power. The deeper knowledge we have about our partners when it comes to intimacy, the better we can stimulate them on a sensual, intellectual, emotional and spiritual level.
A recent study says you should marry your best friend because you will be happier. The research, which comes from the National Bureau of Economic Research in Canada, used data from the Gallup World Poll, the British Household Panel Survey, and the United Kingdom's Annual Population. Researchers found that those who considered their spouse their best friend had higher levels of joy.
If I have big news, whether it’s about something that happened at work or I need help deciding which pair of new boots I want to buy—I don’t facetime my closest girl friend Lizzie, I call my husband. He’s my best friend. He knows what clothes look good on me, or what makes me feel better when I’m sick. He can finish my sentences. He knows simply by looking at me across a crowded dinner party when it’s time for him to make an excuse so we can say good-night. He knows what words are forbidden from our household because the sound of them irritate me.
We have inside jokes that no one gets but will send each other into fits of laughter. I know everything about him too. We know everything about each other, likes, dislikes, and it creates a platonic relationship where joy is found.
Listen to Heather's new podcast: Rise Up to Raise Up Faith-Filled Kids. You can find all the episodes at LifeAudio.com:
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone). She writes to bring through bold truths and raw faith about marriage, career, mental health, depression, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. Heather is a former national award-winning journalist and is the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/bernardbodo