This past week Pete, my husband, and I celebrated 16 years of marriage. That doesn’t really amount to much considering our collective family legacies. My maternal grandparents were married for over 65 years. My in-laws have been married 55 years. My parents just celebrated their 49th anniversary. Amongst our siblings, we have been married the least amount of time.
If we compare to most people around us, we aren’t doing too badly. We still sleep in the same bed, when Pete isn’t working midnights. We have things to talk about besides our kids, though, with 6 kids, there is a lot to talk about on that subject. We even occasionally get out for a date, even though one of us usually resists, and it isn’t him.
But we shouldn’t be here.
First of all, this isn’t my first marriage. American statistics published by Psychology Today indicate that a first marriage has a 50-50 chance of ending in divorce. Mine did. I walked away. I was a Christian and I am not proud of it but it is part of my story.
According to those same statistics, 2nd marriages end in divorce 67% of the time. Those aren’t very good odds but Pete and I took the gamble and our marriage has lasted longer than the 5 years that my first did. We are still here with no intention of going anywhere.
That doesn’t mean that it has been easy. We started out as 2 30-year-olds with assorted baggage and 2 little girls to boot trying to merge their separate lives together. Tough sometimes feels like an understatement.
Then life happened along with lots of challenges in the form of:
- Financial pressure
- A pornography addiction
- A special needs child
- The death of a child
There is a common myth in our society that any one of these factors could mean the demise of a marriage. Statistically speaking, couples who deal with these issues are no more likely to divorce than the average couple. What they do add, though, is stress and the ability to cope with stress can mean the difference between staying together and walking away.
But how many couples have to deal with all of them? Not many, I hope. But we have.
And we are still here. Maybe we are both too stubborn to give up but I don’t think so. I hope there is another reason. I believe there is something stronger than the both of us at work in our marriage. Someone. Our Father God.
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”(HCSB). There is a true enemy out there who is hoping to destroy marriages, especially Christian ones, but when Pete and I tie our lives together with our faith in our Father God, we are so much stronger than we could ever be on our own.
I never really understood the importance of marriage until this summer. This seems to be the year of weddings around here. Our older kids are getting to the age where their friends are getting married. My niece will be married in less than a month. We have even had a wedding invitation in every season.
A couple of months ago a small group of us reunited to do a Bible study by David Platt entitled “Counter Culture”. We were just looking for a way to spend some time in the Bible this summer. We have gotten that and more.
Marriage and its definition has become a hot cultural issue. Governments are looking to changing the definition and we are in the middle of it. David Platt uses the creation text of Genesis 2:22 that reads “then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”(NIV) to illustrate the Biblical view of marriage. It also says “that is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”(verse 24).
I guess the real clincher, though, is in Ephesians 5:25-33
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of His body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
God created marriage. He formed woman as a helper to man and brought her to him. But marriage also serves a greater purpose. A purpose that isn’t taught in any of the churches I have attended. And during 46 1/2 years of almost ritualistic church attendance, I have heard quite a few sermons in a number of churches.
When the world looks at our Christian marriages, it should see a living, breathing illustration of how much God loves them and sacrificed Himself for us.
I wish I could say that I have always had that marriage–a marriage that reflects my relationship with my Saviour. But I haven’t. I don’t. There are times when I am resentful. There are times when I have felt like it was too much. That I didn’t want to love Pete anymore. I have failed.
Part of the joy of having a relationship with God is that no matter how much I struggle, He is always there to give me the strength to go on. And Pete has that too. As we each seek our Father God with everything we are we also choose to move closer to each other. Finding a husband who loves God and who longs to serve Him is one of the biggest blessings of my life. Having a common faith has helped to hold us together, to bind us together, in the darkest moments of life.
According to the world, we probably shouldn’t be here. According to people around us, we probably shouldn’t be here. Some Christians might think we should have given up.
But here we are. We’re a little more battered and bruised than we used to be. We both have more grey hair and a few more lines on our faces. At least on mine. We aren’t the same people who started out 16 years ago but we are still together. I pray we keep getting better. I pray we will be transformed more and more into that perfect picture. The picture to the world of the amazing love of God.
And, regardless of any failures or stress of the day before, our Father God is flooding our life daily with an overabundance of grace.
We couldn’t do it any other way.