My wife, Christin, and I were blessed to celebrate our tenth anniversary on June 6th of this year. Marriage is the best relationship on this side of heaven outside our relationship with Christ. The purpose of marriage is simply for it to be a reflection of how Christ loved the church and gave himself up for it. In saying this, one of the best things you can give your kids is a biblical, loving marriage. I grew up in a broken home, and I understand first-hand that our God is a God of restoration and relational healing. As a disclaimer, I would say for those struggling marriage is hard, but if it’s destructive hard, seek wise counsel.
Here are a few lessons I have learned in the past ten years:
1. Marriage Is a Classroom for Unselfishness
We are made to serve, not to be served. God uses marriage for us to become more like Him. Marriage is not intended for our happiness but for Holiness. Anytime I feel frustrated or impatient, I am reminded I cannot do this in my own strength. We have discovered that when we draw closer to God individually, Christin and I actually get closer to each other. Imagine a triangle with your spouse on one side and you on the other and God at the top. The only way to close the distance is moving closer to God.
2. Marriage Is Mission-Minded
Christin and I made a commitment to “go and make disciples” for a lifetime together. We don’t believe God put us together to sit and soak. Don’t get me wrong. We have a ton of room to grow, but it has been a blast seeing what the Lord has done through a couple of unschooled ordinaries. My first disciples are my wife and children (1 Timothy 5:8), and then we invest our time in other couples and individuals through small group. If you are not in a small group, you need to be! You need others to care and pray for you as you walk your marriage journey.
3. Joyful Always, Pray Continually, Give Thanks in All Circumstances
These words are engraved on both of our original wedding rings. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 spoke loudly to us as we were writing our marriage vows. We live in a culture that says marriage is not a commitment. We have an enemy that is waiting to tear our marriage and family apart. God has used this verse to remind us to be joyful always. True joy is found in the Lord, and life is too short to walk through it miserably.
Pray continually - Always depend upon the Lord not our own strength.
Giving thanks in all circumstances - Being grateful is a weapon against entitlement and discontentment.
To close, I will share some practical application. This advice comes from Marriage in Motion, a book written by Dr. John Hobbs, a colleague and friend.
Pray every day together – pray about your problems.
Talk for 30 uninterrupted minutes a day - talk through your problems.
Go on a date twice a month - get away from your problems.