I am married to a hopeful romantic. By that, I mean he is hopeful that I will be romantic, too, from time to time! We are not often guilty of joining in on the Valentine’s Day hype, but this year, I must say my Valentine went all out. He booked us a room at a really nice resort hotel and we ate dinner out at my favorite restaurant. It was an afternoon and evening full of sweet romance.
We will soon be married twenty-two years. I know to most these days that sounds like a lot of years, but when I think of our lives together, it doesn’t seem like all that long at all. Still, we’ve done a lot of things in those twenty-two years. Seminary, ministry positions, four kids, umpteen moves, deep loss, and amazing blessing. All of it together. All of it growing us as a couple. Some of it making those gray hairs pop out, some of it carving deep laugh lines in our faces, but all of it part of our journey together.
We live in a society where so often we are willing to trade our old models in for new ones, be it computers, cars or spouses. “Til death us do part” isn’t really taken all that seriously these days. The “no fault” divorce opened up a flood of people claiming “irreconcilable differences” as cause to put asunder what God had joined together.
I know that I have been blessed in my marriage. I know that it has lasted for twenty-two years only by the grace of God. Matthew and I are so very different from one another. He’s so organized and I can never find my keys. His careful thoughtfulness and my humor and whimsy sometimes seem like two different sides of a coin. Those differences can sometimes frustrate, but they also provide the completeness in our relationship. We have been knit together in this marriage relationship and to undo it would be nothing short of an amputation. In no way could the one become two again without deep scarring.
It is this reality that we have to consider as we enter into marriage. In all honesty, I hadn’t a clue to these things when I married Matthew. Like most young brides, I cared more about the dress and the cake, than the marriage to follow. All I knew for certain was that God had laid His hand upon Matthew’s head and told me, “This one.” I trusted those long-term details to the Lord.
And I think that’s the key, really. For love to be lasting, it has to have God’s hand on it. Only He knows the future a couple will face together. It’s struggles, pains, and its joys. Without that third hand in the relationship, differences will become irreconcilable, and ‘til death do us part will come to mean the death of the love and not the death of the spouse.
The Bible tells us that love comes from the Lord. (1 John 4:7) That He is Love. (1 John 4:8) Apart from Him is no good thing. (Psalm 16:2) Apart from the Lord nothing that requires love shall endure. We can’t under our own power generate enough love to sustain a marriage. Matthew cannot, on his own, look past all my flaws and still after twenty-two years want to take me to a resort hotel for Valentine’s Day. The love we have is finite. It has conditions. But the love that flows freely from the Father keeps no record of wrongs. Is not jealous or boastful or rude. It is love beyond conditions.
Instead it always protects, always hopes, and always endures.