I’d like you to meet Kendra and Andy Fletcher (but you can call him Fletch), and enjoy Kendra’s guest post on today’s blog.
Fletch has a day job as a dentist, but blogs at themangotimes.com about all sorts of topics unrelated to teeth. For years, he and Kendra had a podcast called “Homeschooling IRL” sharing the mess that is raising and educating a family in a way we can all relate with. Kendra blogs at KendraFletcher.com and has also written a couple books – Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace and just recently Leaving Legalism: Learning to Love God, Others, and Yourself Again and I’d recommend both!
Kendra and Fletch came out and spoke at a week of family camp a couple summers ago, and we discovered them to be just as we’d hoped – they are the kind of people you just want to combine with couches and coffee, to talk about life and everything else, and laugh a lot in the process. They are disarmingly honest about their story and what God is doing in their lives, and I was super excited that they agreed to come back and speak here again, this time in February of 2019 at our Tandem Weekend for couples. If your marriage could use some authentic encouragement I hope you will consider joining us!
Here’s a little sneak preview, with a post written for us by Kendra called: Marriage Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be (And That’s a Good Thing) Enjoy!
Our 17-year-old daughter recently started dating a young man she’s been friends with since their freshman year of high school. In the spirit of gathering wisdom from those who’ve gone before, she texted an older, married friend and asked, “What do you wish you’d known about Jon while you were dating?”
Nisha offered our Caroline great advice and insight, but one of the things she wrote was particularly right on the money:
“Dating is the fun part.”
Ah, yes. I think most of us who have been married for more than a couple of months (and who are honest with ourselves and the world) would agree. Dating was the fun part. Remember? There were phone calls and texts and sweet little love notes written on college-rule paper between classes. There were dates to buy the cheapest dinner we could find. There were walks in beautiful neighborhoods where we would talk about our future, how we’d buy a house like those we dreamed about along our walk, and where our life together would take us. And it was fun.
The wedding was fun, too. And the honeymoon. And setting up house.
But 27 years in, I’m still caught off guard when my humanity rears its ugly head, or backside, as it were. And there’s my husband, Fletch. That guy can be a real . . . backside. And sometimes it’s just not so fun. Sometimes, the not-so-fun seasons last a really, really, really long decade.
Just a month or two ago, we found ourselves arguing one more time about our sex life. For us, there has never been a comfortable equilibrium where we both feel satistfied by frequency. It’s a classic marriage conundrum, but he wants more and I’m content with far less.
That night, I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I remember yelling out, “Why does sex have to be so complicated? It’s always been like this! You’re never happy with the amount and I don’t need it all the time. I don’t understand why it’s so important to you. I do a million things a day that prove I adore you, but in the end, it seems like all you really care about is sex.”
Oh, ouch. There’s my backside rearing it’s ugly humanity. And yet, there is a lot of truth in that statement, and if we look closely at the argument, we can see the gospel. Does that seem weird? In the middle of yet another argument about sex, our need for the savior and his lovingkindness are on display.
Why do sex and marriage have to be so complicated? Because we live in a fallen, broken, messed-up world. I spent all my unmarried life hearing the messages of the purity movement that gained thunderous momentum in the 1980’s while at the same time reading Seventeen Magazine and gleaning all of the insight I could about how to use my sexual charm to catch a guy. And if that’s not complicated enough, I had some health issues that curbed our sex life early on, and then nine—you read that right— nine pregnancies. For 15 years of our marriage, our sex life worked its way around nine pregnancies, post-partum healing, and years of breastfeeding babies. Complicated.
His need for more sexual intimacy and my lack of it doesn’t necessarily point to our own humanity and brokenness, but it does illuminate the truth that neither of us is able to fulfill the needs of each other. Ultimately, we both need Christ, but if we’re expecting each other to be what only Christ can be in our lives, we’ve put our hope in our marriage and each other, and not in the only One who can truly bring us fulfillment and satisfaction.
And then there’s the part about doing “a million things a day that prove I adore you” that cuts my perfectionistic, puny heart to the core. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing and providing for one another, but if I’m using it as a measure of my love for someone and my own worth and value, I am laying bare the idolatry and performance-driven motives that mark my attempts to hope God will love me more because of it all. He doesn’t love me because of what I have done; He loves me because of what He has done.
Humanity, a fallen world, our attempts to hide our own shame, our need for a Savior, His rescue. Our marriages are a microcosm of the whole grand story of redemptive history.
It’s true. Marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But then in-between the not-so-fun spells of arguing and life stress and raising children and working the same job day in and day out, my husband of 27 years also reminds me to look at Christ and find my worth there, at the cross. I remind him that all the sex in the world will not quench his thirsty soul. We talk, we ask God to help us love each other better, and yes, we have sex.
The good part about knowing that marriage isn’t the ultimate fulfillment? It pushes us toward Jesus Christ, toward knowing God better, toward loving each other because He first loved us. Marriage stands as a beautiful reminder of how He loves us so perfectly and is the only hope we have in this world.