As my wife and I celebrated our 13th year of marriage last week, I looked back at the years of highs and lows. Some very good times and some very tough times. And neither of us coming from a good "marriage model" from our parents. Not to worry, everybody we met would offer "help." From day one, we have had others offering us advice and tips on making our marriage last.
"If you make it past the first year, everything will be fine."
This was the first line given to us. Were we to set a goal of 12 months? And how do you explain all the marriages that fall apart after that first year?
After our first two years, things were still high and low in our lives. One daughter, a new house, and my job in the Army keeping me from home.
"If you make it past the five year mark, everything will be fine."
Hmm. Makes sense? The first year getting used to each other, then the next four making our marriage work? Again, how do you explain the marriages that fall apart after five years?
We made it five years together. Now with three children and having just reenlisted in the Army for an assignment in Japan. It would be great, right? Made it past the five year mark, get to take my family to Japan with me. Everything will be fine...
The highs and lows seemed to be mostly lows. Especially after 9/11 when my job "needed" me more than my family. At least in my mind it did. There were a few months when it was all but finalized that our marriage was over. But we made it past the five year mark?
"If you make it past the 10 year mark, everything will be fine."
We were able to work through the hard times and returned to the States after my Army enlistment. Now with the addition of twins to our family. Starting over with a new career and new challenges a family of seven faces. Highs and lows, ups and downs. Daily struggles, failures and victories.
We obviously made it past the "mile marker" of 10 years, and now three more past that. And as well intended as the advice was, there is only one reason we are able to say, "Happy 13th Anniversary" to each other.
That first year as we were living together in our small apartment, fighting and yelling over anything and everything newly weds can argue over, we received a visit. This visit would change our lives for ever. That was the night we were given spiritual life and forgiveness of our sins. The night we believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior and only way to keep us from an eternity separated from God.
I had always enjoyed reading the Old Testament and KNEW God wanted marriage to be special. Genesis 2:24 was my model to follow in the absence of living examples. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." One flesh means forever. It means faithful. It means respectful. It means ONE flesh, united forever.
After receiving the Holy Spirit, the whole Bible opened up to us. Being led by God to live for God made all the difference. And no magic time line will ever save a marriage. There is no anniversary that determines when your struggles are over and "everything will be fine." Only by living for God and treating marriage as a gift from God, will we make it through the low times and be able to praise him in both the highs and lows. We were able to make it through the real low times ONLY by God's grace and our desire to honor our marriage for God, and we must continue in this way.
Honor the Lord by honoring your marriage.
1Peter 3:7 "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."