Eric and I just returned from a weekend getaway for our 19th wedding anniversary. We were so excited to get away as just the two of us. For years, we couldn’t afford much of an anniversary celebration. If we were fortunate, maybe we could go out to dinner, but there were many years we couldn’t even afford to buy each other a simple card. So, the idea of actually going away to celebrate our anniversary, well, that was a rarity.
And my Love made this weekend extravagant for us. He reserved an upscale hotel with a grand room which made us look forward to a sweet time together. However, it was anything, but!
When we first arrived at our room, it was dirty. The bed was unmade, there were towels from the previous guest on the floor, trash was left out, and ants took up residence. Well, I thought, that’s a little unusual for such a nice hotel (one we had stayed at over 10 years ago). But, things happen, right? No big deal.
Then we were greeted by what smelled like marijuana from the room next door. Being that the hotel was a non-smoking hotel, it seemed odd to discover smoke. Hmm, I wondered, what was this weekend going to hold for us? And were our neighbors going to be staying long?
Later, my man took us to a fine dining restaurant where we looked forward to a quiet evening away from it all only to be greeted with a 2-year-old child throwing a tantrum in the restaurant and then watching and hearing the parents get into a full blown argument. The husband got bent out of shape and raised his voice, saying every time they go out, his son throws a fit. Then the wife got up out of her seat and got in her husband’s face while wagging her finger at him telling him, “Too bad!” And then she stormed off.
Thinking the drama was now over after the couple left, a party of nine showed up right next to us. Their conversations were loaded with foul language all throughout the night.
Have I been living in a bubble? Why did I think a fine dining restaurant would have guests who had manners in public? Are social graces a thing of yesteryear? I scratched my head at the whole ordeal. It wasn’t like we were eating at a family friendly restaurant where one would expect children, nor were we at some bikers’ bar!
Later that evening, we found out our hotel room was sandwiched between two rooms filled with what seemed like a bunch of frat boys. These young men were up all night yelling, cheering, laughing loudly, slamming doors, and running down the hallway. All night. Until 4 am! After receiving less than 4 hours of sleep, I was quite crabby, and I was about to lose it. It was a good thing we were going home that day!
I asked my husband, “Is it just me? Am I getting older? Am I intolerant of others? Are my standards too high? Or is there something else taking place here?”
By our last day, we spoke about how much of a nightmare the weekend could have been if we had taken our frustrations out on each other. We were surrounded by inconsideration from others everywhere we turned.
Apparently, our little trip ran my husband down so much that he’s now sick. Earlier today I picked up some cough medicine for him not because I had nothing better to do with my time, but because we’ve learned to consider one another.
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
If there is one good marital habit Eric and I have learned to implement and cultivate in our 19 years of marriage, it’s to be considerate of the other person. Consideration goes a long way in a relationship. It’s one spouse giving preference to the other and vice versa. It’s two souls learning to live out the Gospel in marriage by seeking out the good for the other instead of seeking to please self.
This foundational truth when lived out in a marriage also shows our children how to treat others. Hopefully, my boys will consider their actions when out in public. Lord willing, they’ll have the common courtesy to think of others whether they’re staying at a hotel or dining out in public.
No, it wasn’t the best anniversary Eric and I ever had, but just because our circumstances weren’t the greatest, that didn’t mean we needed to lash out and blame the other person which would have been our natural default.
Our time away tested us at every turn…
- From whether we’d exercise self-control or not.
- If we would extend grace instead of placing blame or being critical.
- And here’s the kicker- to appreciate and be grateful for what we did have.
Sure, we could have allowed the chaos of our circumstances to cause conflict in our relationship, but at the core of our hearts, we want to represent Christ in our marriage. When I look at the above list, I need to daily go through life exercising self-control, walking in grace, and embracing a spirit of gratitude no matter how long I’ve been married. However, all of these virtues require me to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit instead of my flesh/emotions.
Reflecting back over our trip, I can’t help but think of that mama in the restaurant who probably feels utterly exhausted and alone. And the husband, who from the looks of it, when he hung his head as she stormed out the restaurant, probably wished his wife would show him more respect.
And the party of 9 seated beside us? I know all too well the type of language I had used before I became a Christ-follower.
These souls need Jesus. And if they know Jesus, then maybe, just maybe, they need to see examples of other Christ-followers living out the Gospel in a sacrificial way; a way that points souls to the Cross where forgiveness is found, grace is extended, wisdom is given, and love abounds.
Just like life, our time away wasn’t perfect or anything glorious, but Jesus is. And if I keep my eyes on Him and walk in His ways, God’s transforming power will produce some beautiful fruit in our marriage.
What is it that you need more of? More grace for yourself? Sometimes we can be so hard on ourselves, can’t we? Or do you need to extend more grace to your husband? Maybe you feel a need to be more grateful for what God has given you? Or the need to garner more self-control? Or maybe the Holy Spirit is prompting you to be more considerate to your man?
Live a poured out life for Christ,