This is a well-written article from guest writer Rachel Atchley. She is very open and honest about some of the struggles she faced early on in marriage with a husband who is active in the military. Thank you Rachel for such a powerful article and we thank your husband for serving! Please leave Rachel a few comments below on what you thought of her piece! Enjoy!
Completion. It sounds like an intensely final word. This is the thought process of many girls as they grow into women: “Once I’m married, maybe with a few kids, my life will be complete.” Then as all of us find out within a week or two of marriage, complete maybe the farthest thing from what we are, as individuals and as a couple. The word insinuates perfection, and yet our lives are still imperfect.
I must say I was one who fell under the spell of thinking marriage and family equaled life completion. And still, the morning after our wedding, my husband and I woke up as the same people we were two days before. Nothing miraculous happened while we were sleeping to put us in perfect tune with each other, change our minds to know exactly what the other was thinking, or even reveal to us the most secret things about the other’s personality. We awoke as us: two imperfect humans in love with a perfect God and each other, trying to build a Godly marriage in a fallen world.
But we had an extra complication to master: my husband is in the military. We were actually married in the middle of his year-long deployment. It had already been difficult enough, forming a relationship while he was away in boot camp, then continuing it long-distance when he was stationed 2,000 miles away. Some judged us and said we didn’t know what we were getting into, but we had both prayed for a very long time and knew that it was God’s plan for us to be together. Our first six months of marriage were difficult, as he was sent back to Afghanistan to finish his deployment and then was shot non-fatally within five days of returning home.
My husband has been home for shortly over a month now and instead of being able to focus on living together, discovering each other, and making a Godly home for ourselves as we had been expecting, we have been faced with one of the roughest of situations. I’ve received a crash course in wifely duties and managing a home, as well as nursing. We’ve dealt with weeks of constant appointments and paperwork, with bedtime being our only reprieve and rest.
I reached a point where I felt anything but complete. Life was chaotic, stressful, and extremely tense. We had moments when we were ready to tear our own hair out, or even each other’s. There were shouting matches, hurtful words thrown at the other, days where we avoided each other for hours upon end. Several nights, I cried myself to sleep. I began to guilt myself for breaking my commitment to follow my parents’ example: never a raised voice in twenty-five years of marriage. We were both scared, unprepared, and unsure how to handle the long road ahead of us.
We had forgotten one essential thing in the midst of all the confusion: marriage takes three. I remembered a plaque hung on the wall of my parents’ house with a song written for their wedding called “Marriage Takes Three.” I had been so proud that all I had done was focus on my husband’s needs and wants the past few weeks and hadn’t once thought about myself. But where had I placed God in all this? Where was His voice that was supposed to be giving me such peace? I found it, buried under hurt feelings and worried about the next week’s busy schedule. As I had been so busy taking care of the temporal things, I had neglected the eternal. I hadn’t prayed except a few words asking for help every day. My Bible was still in my suitcase. God was pretty far away from my mind. But as soon as I started searching for what had gone wrong, He was there waiting to refresh me.
He reminded me that looking to serve His will leads me to serving my husband as a wife. That while two people becoming one is His desire, they will fall to ruin without Him in the center, guiding them. I also remembered my spiritual mentor telling me that getting married does not fulfill a person, neither does having children (as she has had two). Only God can fulfill you as an individual and make you a complete person, complete enough to become someone else’s other half. And as you and your husband grow closer to Him, He will draw you closer to each other.
I am still young as a person and very young in marriage. But I understand that although my marriage may not ever be perfect, it can always be growing; without God as the focus, it can’t even begin to grow. Life will probably throw everything it has at us because the enemy finds pleasure in splitting Christians apart. Yet when we look to God, we advance: as people and as a couple. Life has a way of trying to bury God’s movements and drown Him out—find Him in the chaos and bring Him back to the center.
- Rachel Atchley
Here are a few pictures of Rachel and her husband!
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