“And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Nearly 34 years ago, my sweetheart asked me to marry him…while we were all by ourselves in a beautiful church, surrounded by colorful light dancing through stained-glass windows. We married only four months later, and our whirlwind romance settled into a steady pace.
Looking back, we can see we’ve had a “normal” marriage—chock full of ups and downs. It’s not always been red roses, chocolates, and heart-shaped cards.
Yet I can honestly say I’m more in love with my husband now than the day we wed. That’s a gift from God. And while I’m no expert in marital counseling, the past three decades have given us a few insights on how to forge a marriage that goes the miles.
The first tip is simple. Commitment. If you’re a Christ-follower, you know that faith in Him is a powerful glue holding you together in holy matrimony. But even in rough times of weak faith, being totally committed to each other can keep the bond strong.
When you buy a car, you know it’s only temporary—you’ll eventually trade it in for a newer model. No such option with marriage. When you take a vow in front of God and witnesses to forsake all others until death do you part, that’s pretty serious stuff. You don’t just walk away when the going gets tough. And it will get ugly at times.
If you’re single, I encourage you to read through the vows you’d make to the other person. You’re going to buckle up together on a roller coaster ride that will throw you off balance and rattle your bones. Sure, there are thrills on the way, but a lot of it can be scary. Are you ready to get strapped in for the long haul? Can you count on that person to hang on tight? That’s why it’s so important to choose your mate wisely. Avoid anyone who would dart away at the first sign of trouble.
For those who are married, you’ve already experienced some of these teeth-gritting moments. Your wedding day may have been years ago, and you wonder now how you wound up with this other soul in your life. Those seasons of “for better or worse, in sickness and health, in plenty and want” may have buffeted your pledges to each other.
How, then, do you practically live out commitment?
Verbalize it. Say it out loud and often enough that your marriage partner believes you.
I mentioned in a previous blog that my husband and I were contestants in an impromptu “Newlywed Game,” and while we don’t remember the question, we remember our identical answer: I will never leave you.*
Say those exact words, and your mate will find huge comfort in them—you’ll be blessed as well. Assure your spouse that you are on this ride as long as you’re alive. There’s no getting off, turning around, or going back. Saying “I love you” frequently is almost as important.
A second counsel is to constantly refuse to entertain thoughts about another person or another life. Infidelity begins when the interstate road of marriage gets bumpy (or full of ruts) and one partner starts looking at attractive billboards promising happiness at the next exit. Those are empty promises. Never forget that sin takes you further than you wanted to go, keeps you longer than you intended to stay, and costs you more than you expected to pay.
Commitment means forsaking ALL others…just as God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us. He is our example, and He has told us not to fear or be dismayed in the face of problems.
Lastly, commitment means daily dedicating yourself to serving God by serving your spouse. When you devote time every day—whether you feel like it or not—to pray for your partner, work for your partner, praise your partner, and let go of selfish whims for the sake of your partner, you are living out your commitment. If you’ve done that, there’s no need for a special ceremony to renew your vows. You’re keeping your original pledges, on an ongoing basis.
Friend, I hope these comments call you to reflect on your current relationship or your future spouse. Study couples around you who have been together for 50 years or more. You’ll find that problems have driven them together rather than pull them apart…that their lifelong partnership is a never-ending vow to cling to each other and care for each other, no matter what.
May you be equally blessed. And may God bring you the love of your life—either with a future spouse or with the mate already living in your home.
Triune God, the One who created the institution of marriage, give us Your grace to choose our spouses wisely and then remain faithful. Have mercy on us when we’ve failed to serve You in our marriage. Fill us with Your love and presence, and be the strand that binds us together in harmony for the length of our days. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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© Copyright 2023 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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