As we celebrate our wedding anniversary this week, we are grateful to God for our marriage. After 34 years together, we’re starting to have trouble remembering our “single” years. Probably because we married young.
Interestingly though, after 34 years of marriage, we are only beginning to understand the covenant vow we made. Understanding how to transform our marriage from good to great. We realize how important it is to continually work to move our marriage from good to great. We aren’t there yet and probably won’t be until we die.
But here’s a few things we are learning:
- Marriage is not 50-50. That’s a contractual relationship. It is 100% – 100% and nothing less. Marriage is a covenant between three people: God, a man, and a woman. It is a “until death us part” covenant. Inherent in that covenant is the understanding by all parties that we are going to work this thing out together. A covenant means you are in the agreement for the long haul.
- Marriage takes hard work. The Beatles told us, “all you need is love” which isn’t true. Moving from good to great takes hard, intentional work to build your relationship. In the middle of the busyness of life, marriage relationships often suffer because we take them for granted. We take the other person for granted. There’s an old joke that goes something like this:
“A woman was frustrated because her husband wasn’t romantic. He was a good provider and very faithful but he wasn’t romantic. She voiced this frustration to her husband who remarked, ‘I told you once that I loved you. If it changes, I’ll let you know.’”
We may chuckle or cringe at that story. But there’s enough truth in it to sting. Too often in our most intimate relationship, our marriage, we forget to let the other person know how much they mean to us. We simply assume they know that we love them. Today, tell your spouse that you love them and why. Do the hard work.
- Marriage involves two messed up people. Not to offend you, but you are a mess. How do I know? I am too! And anyone who thinks they aren’t is lying. We all sin. Every day. Consistently. Our only hope is to bring those sins to Jesus, confess them, ask for and receive forgiveness, and grow up in Him. This cycle will continue until the day we die simply because we are all human. Sin is a condition of every human heart. So, when you mess up today, keep the account with your spouse short—admit your sin, ask for forgiveness, and grow together in Christ.
- Marriage requires protection. Just like we need to work hard on our marriage, we must put a strong protective hedge around it. What do I mean by this?
- Do you have a relationship with someone who spends most of the time complaining about their spouse? This constant negativity picks away at your protective hedge like a woodpecker hammering the side of a tree.
- When you speak about your spouse, do you seek to increase their honor and respect among others, or are your words more apt to be filled with complaints or negativity? You are poking holes in your hedge.
- Have you bought into the Hollywood version of love being defined as “I love you as long as you make me happy”? If so, your protective hedge is probably gaping open.
- Do you have a friendship with a person of the opposite sex that involves “innocent” flirting, praying together, discussions of problems in your marriage, or something else pretty personal? If so, you’ve stripped away the protective hedge of your marriage.
Spend some time today assessing your protective hedge. You may need to shore it up.
- Marriages need outside help from time to time. Want to make your good marriage great? Get some outside counseling. You could attend a marriage retreat. You might need to have intensive marriage counseling to work through issues that you continually stumble over. You might need weekly counseling for a short period of time because one thing has you stymied. Or you might find another couple with a strong marriage to walk through life with. There’s no perfect formula. But, even a good marriage will benefit from an outside evaluation every once in a while. You could call this a marriage tune up.
We’re working on strengthening the protective hedge around our marriage. There’s some stripped branches and bare spots that need pruning because of our carelessness.
So as we celebrate this 34th year of good marriage, we look at each other and agree to push toward great. We agree that we still have issues to work on and through. Yet, we look back and celebrate heartily the progress we’ve made together. And we are grateful for the grace of God in our lives. Grateful that God is able to transform marriage.
What choice do you need to make today to shore up the protective hedge of your marriage? Do it and celebrate with your spouse this extra-ordinary blessing called marriage. Need help figuring out where to start, let’s talk.