Valentine’s Day is coming up and I’m browsing the card aisle looking for the right card to give my husband on this, our 20th Valentine’s Day together.

I’m looking for the card that says: Marriage is Hard.

But I must not be Hallmark’s target customer, as I can’t find that card. They’re all way perkier and sweeter than I’m feeling right now. Because, yeah, marriage is hard!

It’s a long journey that started with two starry-eyed people, who were totally full of expectations of what their life together would look like and who the other person was. And then, inevitably, came disappointment. Disappointment turns to resentment. Resentment left unchecked turns to anger.

I know I’m not the only person who has ended up traveling that road and wondering if marriage is supposed to be so hard.

The short answer is no, it’s not. Marriage is a beautiful gift designed to illustrate Christ’s love for His bride, the church. In many ways, marriage is the ultimate way to walk out your faith and to grow in what it really means to love like Jesus.

The Bible says to love your neighbor. Your closest neighbor is your spouse.

There are 101 tips, tricks, and books to help you have a better marriage, even a great marriage. But the real kicker is to have a better heart, a more Christlike heart, to put God first. That’s the one practical step that transforms a relationship from expectation and disappointment to understanding and joy.

This is what makes our hard marriage also a beautiful one. We are two very flawed people who push each other to seek God first.

Now can I please get a card for that?