As the director of marketing and events for her father, evangelist Ravi Zacharias' organization, Sarah Zacharias Davis has traveled the world. But a larger adventure for her has been her seven years of marriage, and the process of understanding marriage from a Christian perspective. Davis shared her story and those of more than 20 other married women, in her new book "Confessions from an Honest Wife." She spoke to Beliefnet about managing expectations, the pressures of Christian marriage, and the "miracle" of marriage.
Listen to Sarah Zacharias Davis talk about:
- Saving Herself for Marriage
- The Pressure of a 'Perfect' Marriage
- Marriage & Changes in Her Faith
- 'Wives Submitting to Husbands'
- A Chorus for Married Couples
What do you think is the most pleasant surprise newlyweds discover about marriage?
I think that all of the women I've talked to for the book talked about their expectations, and probably the most pleasant surprise was the companionship, that it continues to get better. Some had only been [married] a few years and others had been 25 years. But seeing that initial companionship, knowing that person is there and they had your back, and then seeing how that evolved and grew -- the security of that -- was a pleasant surprise.
What about the most common newlywed disappointment?
Again, I think it went back to expectations. Realizing that you're two different people, and seeing those differences in a more vivid way than when they were dating. Also, several of the women did talk about their physical intimacy with their husbands being a surprise—in different ways. It wasn't the same way. Some of them talked about different sex drives, and different expectations of how that part of the relationship was going to work. That came up repeatedly.
Do you think most newlyweds put too much emphasis on the sexual aspects of marriage, particularly those who saved themselves for marriage?
I do think so, actually, both from my own experience and talking with so many women. The majority of the women I talked to were raised in an environment where they did save themselves for marriage, and there was a very high expectation put on there. And part of it was the unknown. But especially leading up to the wedding, it was an all-consuming thing. Some of the women talked about how they didn't talk about some other aspects of their relationships much in preparing for marriage, because they had tunnel vision, I guess.
|Saving Herself for Marriage|
Yeah, I was raised that way, and I did save myself for marriage. Of course there's a lot of support for that in the church, and that's what we were taught is the right way and the way that was honoring to God. There was a lot of buildup to the reward for waiting, and so there was an expectation of instantly realizing that reward. The truth is that like much of marriage, that's something that comes over time—you come together over time, and the more you learn about each other, for many people, the better that gets. But that wasn't part of the expectation. One woman talked about how she'd even heard it was going to be the best night of her life, and expecting that after being all day at the wedding, and getting up so early, being with people all day. Then she expected that they were going to come back to the hotel and it was going to be the best night of her life. And it was that disappointment.
Why do you think people should remain virgins until they get married? One could say, if you'd gotten that out of the way during the engagement, that wedding night pressure wouldn't be there.
I think the reason why you should wait is that if you are a Christian, I think that's what the Bible teaches. But that doesn't mean it's going to be perfect or the best night of your life. There were other women who hadn't waited, and there were issues there too. It doesn't solve every problem. Either way, sex is a large part of marriage, but it's not the only part. Keeping that proper perspective of it is what is important, but I think in order to do that, people have to be honest about it. I think the reason that you wait is really obedience and wanting to honor God with the choices that you make, and with your body, and not because everything is then going to be perfect.
What do you feel is the most important aspect of marriage?
It's really difficult to choose one aspect…but my personal opinion is that that true partnership and support of each other's lives, and trying to know the soul of that person and also to support the person that God made them to be, and to live fully into their potential. That's a very important aspect of marriage, and for me, the most important.
When you got married, did you feel pressure because of who your father is, to have a particularly "Christian," "spiritual," or "perfect" marriage?
|The Pressure of a 'Perfect' Marriage|
Do you think honesty is a quality that's getting lost within marriages?
You have said that your faith has changed since you got married. How so?
|Marriage & Changes in Her Faith|
Have you ever encountered a couple you felt should not have gotten married?
[I had that opinion about] one woman I interviewed for the book—but when we talked, she really opened up. She really allowed me inside her marriage, to see a picture of that. I was amazed at how wonderful a relationship she and her husband had, and how she had grown as a person in her relationship with him, and she credited him with a lot of that, the way that he invested in who she was as a person. It was something I actually didn't see from the outside. It's so easy to judge other people's lives. That's when I was really convicted that you just don't know. When you're looking from outside a marriage, it's easy to stand in a place of judgment, and I don't think that's our place. The truth is, it's easy to make that judgment and say they shouldn't have gotten married—but you never know how God is going to use that in their lives, and that's maybe the path that He has for them, but maybe it's not the path He has for you. And He brings us all towards Him in a different way.
How do you handle the multiple interpretations of the "Wives, submit to your husbands" Bible verse?
|'Wives Submitting to Husbands'|
My dad talks about his feeling that, yes, that's in the Bible, but in a healthy marriage, if the husband is loving his wife the way he should, and if they're loving each other the way that they should be, that's an issue that really doesn't come up because it's just sort of understood and doesn't need to be spoken about all the time. Really, we all should be submitting to each other and just living that out. I don't think there's one answer that works for everyone—it's an individual choice as a couple, and it's between them and between God.
What you mean by "the miracle of marriage?"
The miracle of marriage is that in the messiness, there is the miraculous. Many of the women talk about wrestling through some really difficult things with their spouse, and it being really messy. Being in the throes of that messiness, they then see that person in a new perspective. Or coming out the other side, and knowing that you survived. You might be a little battered, but you're still alive, you're still with that person, and you gain a new appreciation for them. And then, you change as a person. In so many ways, I look back over the last seven years I've been married, and I feel like I'm such a different person. I've grown up a lot. I have different perspectives, and maybe different opinions than I had before, and maybe a deeper understanding of myself and my relationship with God. That doesn't mean that you don't struggle, or you don't have disappointments. It means that there is that miracle in it as well, where you grow as a person and you grow in your relationship.
Do you have a favorite prayer for married couples?
|A Chorus for Married Couples|
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face.
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.