Tonight is the eve of my anniversary. Compared to many, four years is not a long time at all. But in light how quickly and easily and sometimes gruelingly some marriages end – every day, every year we choose to continue to say ‘yes’ to each other and our marriage deserves to be celebrated.
We made it another year. We still love each other, we are still committed, we are still faithful. We still like each other. Yes, that should be celebrated.
I was reminded of that today in a very striking way. Due to technology complications, email glitches and miscommunications, my husband and I could have ended up in a very bad place tonight. If I had allowed my imagination to fill in some of those information gaps, well, I do not think it would have ended well.
Thankfully, I (mostly) held my tongue, and we were able to clear things up pretty quickly and easily. All ended well. But it was a sobering reminder of how tenuous and delicate a marriage can be at any given moment.
We watched our wedding video together on Saturday. If you haven’t watched yours in a while, I highly recommend that you do it. Now. There is something so powerful about hearing yourselves say your vows, reliving that moment, realizing again what you’ve have committed to. We felt so close to each other again.
In retrospect, it’s good to ask, ‘Did we really mean all that? Are we living it?”
Before we got married, we took our precovenant classes When I first got married, I read a lot of books on marriage – Love and War by John and Stasi Eldgredge, Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas and Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs were a few of my favorites. We went to couples’ retreats; we attended and then co-led a marriage Bible study. We had a lot of wisdom thrown our way early on.
There were a few truths that have really stuck with me over these four years:
You have to choose to love and serve your spouse every day. Choose. Some days, it won’t come naturally. For a marriage to be successful, there’s no auto -pilot. You always have to be conscious of putting in 100%. I’m guilty of letting myself getting into lazy routines and not really trying so hard – but I’ve seen the effects of when I’m giving 100% and when I’m not. Night and day.
I’m only responsible for me. I will answer to God for the kind of wife I am; I will not answer to God for the kind of husband J. is. He will answer to God on his own for that. How much he is putting in is irrelevant in relation to how much I’m putting in. God will only ask me how I’ve done in my job as a wife. It’s not always going to balanced or a perfect give-and-take situation. But that’s OK. I just need to do what God is calling me to do.
What if God’s purpose in marriage is not just to make us happy, but holy? (That’s from Gary Thomas). Yes, God wants us to be happy and blessed and have a healthy relationship. But God also uses marriage to dig out our selfishness and pride and idolatry and a host of other vices that our spouses are kind enough to bring out in us. There’s no crucible quite like marriage when it comes to refining our character and making us more like Jesus. And that’s a part of God purpose for marriage, too.
God is the center link that holds us together. When we are out of touch with Him, our marriage suffers. When we both are close to Him and listening to Him, our marriage prospers. It’s that simple.
Always serve each other in humility. This was actually the message our pastor gave us at our wedding ceremony – Jesus washing the disciples’ feet..go and do likewise. If Jesus could wash the dirty feet of His friends, surely I can pick up J’s dirty clothes and make him lunch every day. Not because I’m a slave and I ‘have’ to. No, because I choose to – out of love for J and obedience to Jesus.
Our relationship hasn’t always been easy, and it’s not perfect, but I am grateful for my husband. I am grateful God brought us together. I am grateful for his unique personality – he truly is the most interesting person I know. I’m grateful for how he makes me laugh and for how comical he makes our life (sometimes without trying). I’m grateful I still love hanging out with him more than any other person in the world. I’m grateful for the roots of his faith that go deep.
It’s not easy, this ‘two-becoming-one’ deal.
But I wouldn’t choose it any other way.