I just wrote an entire blog post about marriage… and then I deleted it. I am probably the last person who should ever talk about marriage but here I am, typing away. My story, our story, is probably a little more tumultuous than most. My husband and I have been together for 12 years, married for eight, in counseling for six of those eight. Together, we have been together… that word is what made me delete my entire blog. What does it mean to be together? We have known each other, dated, been engaged, and been married for a total of 12 years… we have been together for much less. Getting married to my sweetheart at the old age of 21, left me without any real ability to comprehend the gravity of what I was committing to for the rest of my life. “…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part” My tear filled voice squeaked out those well known words just before we signed on the dotted line and that was that! In the years that followed, we suffered serious loss, infertility, loneliness, depression, and betrayal just to name a few. My husband and I are fighters, we went into survival mode in the toughest ways… we retreated to our own sides of the fence and each took control of our own lives. Togetherness was not something we grabbed hold of. We also experienced so much joy! We bought not one, but TWO houses, we went on vacations, we adopted dogs, and we added a child to our family! Togetherness was more present in these times, but the fractured moments in our marriage were still creating large areas of emotional separation. I love the way Paul describes marriage in Ephesians 5. “Now as the church submits to Christ, wives are to submit to their husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:24). That word submit, used in this context, used to make me physically nauseous. Seeing first hand the long term, crippling effects of abuse, the idea of submitting to a man was something that physically disgusted me. Have you ever looked up the word submit? We did, in counseling, the very first word that comes up in the definition is, “accept.” As the church accepts Christ, wives are to accept their husbands in everything. Does this mean accept abuse if that is a reality in your marriage? Not at all, in my opinion, abuse is never EVER something to be accepted… that could be a whole separate blog post. Anyways, I began to look at how I accepted Christ. As the church, we accept Christ and His love into every area of our lives, we bring our fears, our praise, our petitions, and our dreams to Him in complete vulnerable communion. In marriage, I was living in emotional separation, guarded by hurt and fear. Accept your husbands in everything. That Scripture now looks nothing like anything authoritative to me, instead it reflects togetherness, vulnerability, and trust. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). I can’t remember a single time that Christ patronized, condemned, reminded people that He was in charge, or demanded respect (or anything really). Christ loved. He loved those that adored Him and washed His feet with their hair, He loved the people that beat Him and spat on Him. He forgave, He healed, He restored. This love has fostered togetherness for centuries. Togetherness, humility, vulnerability… marriage has been the hardest, most incredible journey I have ever been on and it took us six years of counseling to finally understand this: No matter how separated you feel from your spouse, no matter how broken your partnership has become, no matter what has been said or what has been done, RESTORATION IS POSSIBLE. Did you hear me? RESTORATION IS POSSIBLE! Not only is it possible, but it is BEAUTIFUL. What is restoration not? Restoration is not easy, it takes both people working harder than they ever thought possible; but restoration is worth every tear, every dollar of counseling, every sleepless night fighting FOR one another, it is worth it all. From someone who has experienced marital isolation in its darkest forms, please know that there is ALWAYS hope for togetherness.