February 14th is right around the corner. This is the day we choose to celebrate love. Everyone want to experience romantic love, but not everyone wants to put in the effort it takes to turn one day a year into a lifetime of investment and caring for the person we chose to marry. Many young couples are willing to put energy into preparing for the Wedding Day, but put little thought and preparation into the lifetime of marriage. If I’m honest, my first years of marriage to Jude were difficult simply because we didn’t spend the time and energy necessary to prepare for our marriage. We went from being friends to being engaged and married three months later! Jude proposed to me over the phone and I was the one who called him! A lot of what we learned about marriage was from watching other couples in our lives who seemed to make marriage look so easy. Well, we have now been married 31 years and have been through every season a married couple will face and we are still together by the grace of God. Sometimes marriage seems like a piece of cake, full of amazing memories and laughter and other times we have to “fight for what’s left.”
When you have been married 31 years, other couples always ask, “What is the secret to having a lasting marriage?” Here are a few things I have learned over the years, that may be helpful as you pursue your dream of a happy marriage that lasts a lifetime:
Remember Marriage is a COVENANT NOT a CONTRACT:
Matthew 19:6 ESV “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.”
For Jesus followers, marriage is about God joining us together. We make an eternal commitment before Him to LOVE our husbands. If we look at our marriage as a conditional agreement, and our spouses fail at something, we want to break the contract. But God offers us His “overwhelming, never-failing, reckless,” covenant love to draw from. The Bible is a love story in itself, one in which we broke the contract, and culminating in a beautiful marriage celebration as we, the church, become His bride. When we receive the undeserved love and forgiveness of Jesus, He fills us with the power of HIs Holy Spirit to love our husbands without keeping score. When we make the decision to grow old together, we don’t make quitting an option, knowing that God is able to help us in every area of weakness.
Be Grateful for the Marriage God gave you!
I Peter 3:7 “Husbands, you must in turn treat your wives with tenderness, viewing them as feminine partners who deserve to be honored, for they are CO HEIRS with you of the “divine grace of life” so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
Our marriages are a gift from God. We must view our marriages as an “inheritance” or “gift” to be cherished rather than something we are owed. Think about it, when we work for something we “expect” to get paid. If we won a lotto ticket or got an unexpected Inheritance we would be grateful for what we received. Remember, our husbands chose to love us and be committed to us unconditionally. Is there any greater gift one human being could give to another? I encourage you to be thankful for your spouse because he is a gift to you.
Remember we are better together. Fight FOR one another not against one another!
Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one because they help each other succeed” NLT
It’s so important to reflect on the value that our husbands bring to our marriages. Your husband may be very different from you. Jude is certainly very different from me! Sometimes it’s easier for us to value only the qualities we work to have but countless studies have shown that teams whose players have diverse gifts always have increased effectiveness. As we make a decision to stop and appreciate the gifts, talents and perspective that our husbands have, we will end finding better success together. We will often discover better ways of doing things that would have never occurred to us! Remember you started this race with the same vision. You are on the same team going in the same direction trying to accomplish the same goals.
Remember, everyone has struggles in their marriage but marriages are worth fighting for! If you are in a desperate place, if you have experienced the heart break of divorce, God sees you and loves you. Please don’t feel you have to fight or figure it out alone. Our church is full of people with beautiful stories of God redeeming the ugliest moments of strife and disagreement into redemptive and joyful and lasting love. This is our year of believing BIG and God is able to do a big miracle in your life and in your marriage. Join a City Group, attend our XO marriage conference in March, reach out to a pastor or City Group leader. We are here to help! Let’s choose to celebrate love and marriage all year long!
I believe in you!