Exactly twenty-two years ago today -- May 18, 1996 -- I married the love of my life. We dated for three years, got engaged for a year, then promised to be faithful to each other until death would part us. The past two-plus decades have been a wonderful journey and I feel more blessed than I could ever deserve.
I would never claim to be an expert on marriage, but I will say that I have learned a few things in these twenty-two years. Here are a few lessons I have learned.
1. Marriage is a daily commitment
Whenever I lead a wedding ceremony, I always remind the bride and groom that at the end of the ceremony, they will be legally and Scripturally husband and wife. Yet, the real challenge is to be faithful to their vows and to choose to live them out every day of their married lives. Many marriages end because of a failure to daily choose to live out the commitment of their youth.
2. Two imperfect people in a fallen world are going to have problems
Do not panic when conflict arises -- it is normal. Forget the "social media" marriages you see all over Facebook and Instagram. No one's house is ever always spotless, no husband does everything perfectly, and no wife is always in perfect control of herself or those around her. These mirages we see plastered on the phone screens we gaze at are just that...mirages. Every marriage is imperfect and that's ok. Our marriages do not need to be perfect, just faithful.
3. Every marriage CAN get better
For some, they are blessed to live within a joy-filled, Christ-exalting marriage. If that is you -- rejoice! But, even your marriage can get better. Others feel trapped in a joyless marriage that seems to be unraveling by the moment. Your marriage too can improve. No marriage is so good that it can't improve and no marriage is so messed up that it is hopeless. Seek the Lord, honor each other, pray fervently, and improve the things you can.
4. Every marriage is worth fighting for
When two believers get married they are promising to do more than simply stay together. They are committing to being a picture of the gospel. The Bible describes the marriage as a picture of Christ and the Church. Look no further for a reason to fight for your marriage. The world deserves to see what grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience, and love truly look like in action. Your marriage is worth fighting for because the gospel is worth it.
Read the words of Ephesians 5:22-32.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body. 31“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
If you are married, pray that you and your spouse would live out these truths. If you are single, pray for those closest to you to live like this. And married or single, may we all give thanks for the people God has brought into our lives and may we bring glory to Christ in every relationship we are blessed to enjoy.