“[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.“ (1 Corinthians 13:7, NKJV)
The other day, Christine and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. TWENTY-FIVE. Can’t believe it’s been that long…can’t believe we are that old! So many friends congratulated us and said very kind things about our marriage. Thank you.
That same day, we saw a meme on Facebook quoting a popular preacher that read: “Love says, ‘I have seen the ugly parts of you and I’m staying’”. That doesn’t sound like a great marriage to me. On a surface level, this speaks to the necessary commitment a couple should have. After all, love “bears” and “endures” all things. But there has to be more than just living with the ugly. Love also “believes” and “hopes.”
We were asked recently, “How do you do it? How do you stay in love for 25 years?” Both of us would honestly answer that it’s the other one that makes it easy. But if you really want to know…
The simple answer to that question is that we put the Lord first. I know, even as I write this, how cliché that sounds. Nevertheless, it is the foundation of marriage. Over the past 25 years, there have been times when selfishness has crept in and the Lord ceased to be first in our lives. These were the times we have struggled. There have been plenty of occasions when our “feelings” have dictated our actions. We each have demanded our “rights.” In these times, when our self-centeredness has led the way, we have struggled.
The one thing we have relied on over the years is that both of us have been wholly devoted to the Lord. We’re not perfectly devoted to him – just fully vested in being his disciple. I don’t have to change my wife, I don’t even try. She is not mine to change. She is the Lord’s responsibility. My wife isn’t constantly trying to fix me. She takes those things to the Lord and leaves them in the hands of the Holy Spirit.
Over 25 years, not a week has gone by where God has not shown me some “ugly” in my life that he wants to clean up. And to the degree that I let Him do what he wants, he cleans it up. The same has been true for Christine.
I don’t want to “stick it out” with ugly. I don’t want my wife stuck with ugly. We feel God has better plans for our marriage.
So, if you want to have a great marriage that will last for 25 years and beyond – let God do what he wants in you, and trust him to do the same in your spouse.