Today is a special day in the Harris family as we are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary!
Back in the 1900s, I typically only prayed last minute or for shallow stuff that would benefit only me. For the airplane in turbulence to not crash, for a passing grade on a test that I didn’t study for, for money, to win at sports (or to not come in last), etc.
However, there was one prayer that I feel that over time was more spiritual than the rest. I prayed for a wife; that God would send her to me and that I would know that she was the right one. Even though my spiritual life was weak in those days, there were times that I actually got on my knees and prayed. Sometimes it was out of feeling lost with the thought that another person would fill the void. Sometimes it was loneliness or with a broken heart after a breakup. Deep down though even with a lacking relationship with my creator, I truly believed he was listening to me, and he would answer this prayer. And did he ever.
If you know Amy at all, you know she is fun, super cute, beautiful, energetic, a good listener, and a thoughtful, sweet, kind friend. These attributes are what drew me to her and reasons why I vowed to spend the rest of my life with her, to have and to hold, forsaking all others… until death. Wedding vows seem to be the only common place where people say “until death”, so this should remind us how significant the commitment should be. The thing about vows (solemn promises or guarantees) is that they are only as good as what backs them up. A vow made today could easily be broken tomorrow, so how do we address this? We’re humans and unfortunately destined to fail on our own. We can all cite various marriage statistics and share stories about sad endings to marriages, but today I want to share some of the ways that our vows have remained intact and some reasons why there is joy in our marriage.
- The vow. We made promises that we both intended to keep. We had careful
consideration and discussed marriage well before getting engaged. I knew Amy’s stance long before we were married; cheat and it is over. We don’t wonder what we’ll do if this doesn’t work out, we focus our commitment in doing what it takes to ensure that it does work out.
- Continuously recall why you chose the person in the first place. I love to make Amy laugh and sometimes I forget how powerful it is to make her laugh, it is like all the cares in the world melt away. I love to travel with her, I love dates with her, I love to pause and look into her lovely green eyes. This doesn’t all just happen; neither of us are close to perfect, so we need a lot of intentional practice. I believe many people grow apart because they forget this crucial aspect. It breaks my heart to hear a husband or wife refer to their partner negatively. YOU CHOSE the person, figure it out. Get help. Ask a friend. Pray fervently. You dated the person before you were married. Why did you stop dating? Excuses aren’t accepted; it is your life, your marriage that you chose. Have a dinner date at home when the kids go to bed (and don’t let the inmates run the prison, you are the parent, you control their bedtime). Have a one hour date on the porch, it is free. We’ve found that intentionally and frequently seeking distraction-free time together helps us communicate and refocus on each other.
- Putting Christ at the center of the marriage. This is where imperfection meets its match. Meaning, the more we recognize that we’re not perfect and that a perfect, loving God has given us so much grace, the more we realize how important it is to give grace to each other. I’m not the best listener, but Amy gives me grace. I think she does things too fast and she thinks I do things too slow, but we give each other grace. In Christ, our priorities are realigned from “me, myself, and I, then others get the leftovers” to “Jesus, others, myself”. As we grow spiritually, the more visibly we become the “new creation” that 2 Corinthians 5:17 refers to: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
- Treating the marriage as an entity or an investment. Is it healthy? Does it need exercise? Is it being built up? Does it need input from others? Do the core principles need to be shared so that other marriages can be strengthened, and perhaps ours strengthened as well? Are books to help my career more important than books that strengthen my marriage and spiritual life?
Father God, thank you for the gift of marriage. Today I ask a special blessing on not only our marriage but all marriages. For the readers of this blog. For those who are hurting, lost, or lonely and feel there is no way out. Would you supernaturally pour out your love and show them your way? Would you speak to us and reveal your will? That we may point others to you as the source of all goodness, and to your son Jesus as our redeemer and king. Amen.