Jayme and I went to see The Vow this week. On the surface, it is a typical Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams type movie. Channing is fighting for a girl (like he did in Dear John), and Rachel McAdams is trying to figure who she is and what she wants (like she does in The Notebook and Wedding Crashers). Don’t worry Channing and Rachel fans, I’m not hating, just pointing out the obvious. I’m not going to give the entire movie plot away, but the basic storyline is about a young, happily married couple who end up in a horrible car accident, which leaves the wife with extensive memory loss. Most of the movie deals with the couple trying to get back to the place where their relationship was before the accident.
Whether intentional or not, the movie communicates a very important truth about marriage: couples do not stay the same as when they first got married. We love the Hollywood and Disney stories that tell the story of finding true love and living happily ever after. A wedding day is one of the happiest days of life. Everyone is dressed up, looks great, every need and detail is catered to. A couple stands before each other and make a lifetime solemn vow to love, honor and cherish for the rest of their life. “We have found our soul mate”, we say. “We couldn’t be any happier or more in love.” But the truth is it is not long before we realize that the person we married is no longer the same person, and the truth is you are no longer the same. I’m not saying that a deviant plot has been uncovered here, but the truth is, we are constantly changing. We change as we become more like Christ, as we fulfill the purpose of marriage, when we change jobs, when we have kids, experience health challenges, and as we get older. Author, Professor and Theologian Stanley Hauerwas writes:
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being the enormous thing it is means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is…learning how to lve and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
In Tim and Kathy Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage, they explain how most couples enter into marriage through the “in love” experience. In this stage of love, couples are obsessed with each other. As time moves on, and life sets in, and experiences change us, we have to learn to continually love our spouse through those changes. Love is not a feeling, love is an act. Here is what we read in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…1 Corinthians 13:4-8
As I watched The Vow, this truth was clearly illustrated. Though it was a radical, traumatic situation, Paige (McAdams) and Leo (Tatum) experienced a change, and no longer knew each other the way they once did. Paige couldn’t even remember that she was married to Leo, and Leo had to figure out how to win back Paige’s heart. In our marriages, we experience changes regularly, and we are faced with learning to love a person who was not what we once knew. Personality, interests, reactions to life experiences, success, failure, life. These reveal changes in us and through our spouse. But marriages growth healthy and successfully when we learn to love our spouse all over again, and win back their heart.
Has your spouse changed? It’s normal. Don’t give up!