I recently attended the wedding of someone I care about deeply. It was a beautiful thing to see her pledge the rest of her life to the one her soul loves. I truly love weddings, but this one was particularly special; my eyes get wet just thinking about it.
At the reception table, we were asked to write marriage advice on a piece of paper. I sat there with pencil in hand, started writing, needed an eraser (which was not available), and then the enormity of the request became too much. I tucked the paper in my purse and turned my attention to the festivities – certain that the bride and I would likely have many future face-to-face conversations about marriage.
But today the fact that I couldn’t spontaneously spout off one piece of marriage advice is wearing on me. This feeling almost always leads to a blog post, so here we go.
Before I divulge what I would write on that paper given a second chance, I feel like a little background is necessary. Because I worked in college ministry for several years, I have attended more than my fair share of weddings. There are a number of thoughts/feelings that I can count on:
- I am deeply honored and humbled to be invited to witness such an intimate commitment between two people.
- I think back on my own wedding day over 26 years ago.
- I am acutely aware that marriage can be hard. Yet in this moment, I am grateful that the bride and groom are blissfully unaware of this truth. (Just like Jeff and I were on our wedding day.)
- I feel a deep sense of gratitude that despite the truth that marriage can be hard, given the chance, I would choose Jeff again. However, the reasons would not be same as they were in 1992.
In 1992, I said “I do” because he was kind, smart, funny…and, let’s not forget: tall, dark and handsome. He is still all of these things, but today I would say “I do” again because I know he says what he means and means what he says. I know that he will choose to have and to hold me “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish” until death separates us. Period.
This, people, is the essence of a lasting marriage – knowing that you will remain together until death separates you. Once you have both settled this in your heart and mind, you can go about making a happy life together despite the difficulties, struggles, disagreements, and strife that will inevitably come your way. It is a tremendous blessing to be able to rest knowing that I can depend on Jeff to stay by my side. There is no small amount of peace in this thought. It is what makes my marriage beautiful, meaningful and happy.
So, sweet friend and the one her soul loves, here is my advice: Say what you mean and mean what you say. Stay married NO MATTER WHAT until death separates you. Settle this in your heart and mind today and every day that follows.
Jesus said it like this in Mark 10: “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. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” I think we often assume that ‘no one’ refers to someone outside of the marriage. I think Jesus might have been speaking specifically to the ones inside the marriage – knowing that they have the most to gain or lose by the depth of their commitment to one another.