I know many of my readers have been married much longer than I have, so I feel a little silly giving any advice to you. Of course, Marriage isn’t necessarily just about longevity as it is about depth. Feel free to correct me, young and old alike, where I need to be set straight.
My wife and I celebrated 16 years of marriage in the Fall. We got married, by today’s standards, at a fairly young age right out of college, though I would argue couples should get married even earlier (another topic for another day). It hasn’t been all smooth sailing. There have been countless times we’ve hurt each other, said things we’ve regretted, acted selfishly or tested the limits of our patience. There have even been times family and friends have encouraged one of us to consider throwing in the towel.
If you knew us while we were dating, many of our friends would have said we made the most unlikely couple. You couldn’t pick two people that were more polar opposites. Even in college, my wife was sophisticated, cultured, and refined. She appreciated things like art, fine dining, history, and literature. She loved entertaining and showing hospitality. Friends would gather in her apartment for coffee breaks and delicious treats at all hours of the night.
I, on the other hand, was rough around the edges to say the least. I hated school. I loved to party and eat fast food. I had a lot of anger and resentment in my heart toward the world, demons I still wrestle with today. I got through high school thanks to Cliff Notes and always taking the path of least resistance. I love Rock and Roll, especially music from the 70’s and 80’s. My wife couldn’t name the 4 Beatles before we got married.
But God put Jenny in my life for reasons I’ll never completely fathom. A former co-worked once told me “you know, you should never play the lottery. You’ve already hit the jackpot once. You’re never going to get a second.”
I believe Marriage is an institution that was ordained by God. Now before my non-Christian readers get all twisted, let me explain. I DON’T believe God has given authority to the STATE to decide who should be allowed to marry. I’ve written numerous times that the State should get out of the business of sanctioning marriage altogether. For that matter, I also don’t believe anyone should get in the way of 2 people wanting to make the commitment of marriage to each other. That’s between them and God.
So what is it that has made our marriage survive (and even thrive) all these years?
The thing is, I didn’t marry my wife because of her looks, although she is very beautiful. But as my grandmother always said, beauty is fading. Eventually, we all turn out to look like dried up grapes.
I didn’t marry my wife because she had money. We both started out broke.
I didn’t marry my wife because she promised me a lot of children. Readers will know that when we first got married, she didn’t want to have any at all.
I didn’t even marry my wife because she was already an unbelievable cook, though I won’t lie, it’s SUCH a nice perk. I haven’t had Taco Bell in years and I used to live on the stuff.
When we were dating and talking about marriage, the one thing we knew was that our priority, our PURPOSE in life, was to love and obey the Lord. As long as we were willing to obey Christ no matter where He would take us, we knew that everything else would follow.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13.
The only other thing we knew was that Marriage meant forsaking all other people and things. My job as a husband is to put my wife second only to Christ. That includes giving my wife preference over my career, my finances, my health, my hobbies, my friendships, my casual acquaintances, and even my children. Now, this doesn’t mean I can’t have hobbies or friends or a career. It simply means that they have to be secondary or tertiary considerations after Christ and my wife’s wellbeing.
This is something, by no means, I’ve mastered. I still fall short and have to be reminded when I neglect my duty to my wife. And when I do, I’ve repented countless times and asked her to forgive me. My wife is gracious and quick to forgive.
We have been told by friends that we are a fun couple. Fun, as in, we seem to have a good time together. We enjoy each other’s company. We make each other laugh. We genuinely embody 2 individuals that have become one flesh.
But we are still distinct. We have different interests and tastes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard young couples break up because they have different interests and I think “if I had to like everything Jenny enjoyed and vice versa, we’d be doomed to boredom“. Now there are some things we enjoy doing together. But we certainly don’t have everything in common.
The core of our Marriage, our dedication to following Christ and putting each other first, will always remain the secret to our success. If you can get that part down, the rest will fall in line.
A word on intimacy. Next to finances, this is an area that leads more married couples to divorce than any other. Scripture instructs us that we should never withhold physical intimacy from each other (1 Corinthians 7:1-5) for so many reasons, not the least of which is to quench the temptation to look elsewhere. I’ll just say that this is such an important part of married life for both men and women. I can’t speak from any empirical evidence, but I get the feeling that married couples are not sharing enough intimacy with their spouses.
Talk to your spouse. Let her know your needs and desires. If you can’t talk to her about it, then who can you talk to and what does that say? If you are too tired or too busy, then you are not forsaking all others for your spouse’s needs. Make the time. Turn off the TV or the computer earlier. Put the kids to bed earlier or get a sitter. Do whatever you need to do. But do not sacrifice this critical part of your marriage.