The last few weeks have been about celebrating our children, but today, Matthew and I celebrate each other. Today, we celebrate twenty-five years of marriage. Twenty-five years of almost always wedded bliss. I say almost always because, in twenty-five years, we have both occasionally had our less than stellar moments. We are two imperfect people who love each other imperfectly.
Matthew and I are blessed to be around younger folks just starting out. It is for these youngsters that today’s blog is written. Marriage gets a bad rap sometimes, but I believe its struggles and frequent failures are not the institution’s fault, but the fault of those of us who enter into it unprepared for what it’s all about.
Humans didn’t come up with the idea of marriage. Marriage was the idea of our Creator. With marriage, God was drawing a picture of a most intimate relationship between a man and a woman. It was to be an earthly relationship unlike any other. It was to be binding… it was to place those two people into a position of oneness, spiritually. Yes, marriage is a physical relationship, too, but most importantly, marriage is spiritual intimacy. Marriage is the example of the closeness, spiritually, that God desires to have with us. It is why He calls his church the Bride of Christ. It is for this reason that marriage is so important, and why many feel it is worth preserving without folks making it something it is not.
In Mark, the Bible says, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
In marriage, we are to place our spouse above all others. No other person is to mean more to us than they. There is only that one person with whom we become one. That person stands above parents, family, children, and friends. When Matthew and I got married we felt that. It was an “us against the world” kind of unity. We still loved our extended families, and we couldn’t have made it without their support. When we had children, we realized that love for another had just gone to a whole different level. Long-time friends still held special places in our hearts, but we were bound together in holy matrimony, set apart in front of God, to be united in life and purpose.
To that end, and because I sort of think 25 years gives me a small platform to speak intelligently on the subject, I have compiled a short list of musts and must nots for those just starting out on this journey. The following is a list of things that have worked for us.
After you’ve said, “I do”:
- In 25 years I have never had a cross word with my in-laws. In 25 years, Matthew has never had a cross word with my parents either. Why? When issues arise, I let him talk those through with his folks, and he lets me talk them through with mine. Blood is still thicker than water.
- The Bible tells us to never let the sun go down on our anger. Why is that? It has to do with time. Restoring a broken marriage relationship should happen as soon as possible so that you don’t allow the enemy to get a foothold in your mind. I can demonize my husband so quickly in my mind if I am allowed enough time. Before I know it, I am telling myself things like, “If he really loved me he would…” Nip it in the bud. Matthew and I have stayed up all night before to resolve an issue.
- Never allow the word “divorce” to enter your mind or your vocabulary, and never take your spouse for granted because you don’t. Divorce shouldn’t ever be on the table, but sometimes you can allow yourself to act in a way that is dishonoring of your spouse because you know “they aren’t going anywhere.” Deciding to keep divorce out of the picture shouldn’t give you free reign to behave badly.
- With regard to finances, there is no yours and mine, only ours. If you cannot trust someone with your money, you cannot trust them enough to marry them.
- Matthew has access to everything I have. I have access to everything he has. I can read his email and open his snail mail. He can read mine. I can look in his wallet, and he can prowl through my purse if he is brave enough. With the “Find My Friends” app, we can know each other’s location any time of the day or night if we choose to look. There are no secrets. Now I rarely read his mail, and I can’t remember the last time I looked in his wallet except to grab some cash, but I could. Full access. Nothing to hide, no secrets.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. Of course, there are many things that go into making a marriage last and go well, and each marriage comes with its own set of challenges. None of us enters marriage planning for it to fail, but you don’t plan properly for it to succeed, it likely will fail.
Twenty-five years has gone by so quickly. I have lived more of my life with Matthew than I have without him. My life with him has been a never-ending adventure with unexpected plot twists, challenges, unspeakable joys, and unfailing love. Good marriage is possible, it just doesn’t happen by accident.