My beautiful daughter in law Chelsea, (and I mean that in every sense of the word), asked me to write a guest post for her blog. Given that her talent for writing focuses mostly on encouraging young marrieds and early parenting, I figured I better follow suit. As of August, this year my wife and I will be celebrating 30 years of marriage. That would have sounded like an eternity and conjured up very old person images in my mind when we first married, but like everyone says, it really doesn’t seem so long nor do I feel that old now that we are here. Thirty years is nothing compared to my wonderful parents, married now 66 years, whom we currently are caring for as my dad anticipates going to be with Jesus any day now. Still, I guess years and time are relative, and given this is directed at engaged and young married couples I suppose our 30 years has significance.
I will share something I figure might prove to be one of those bits of lived out wisdom that can serve as a lifeline of hope to a struggling young couple. I’d like to share about a simple commitment my wife Camille and I made before marrying which served as a bonus to our marriage covenant before God. That simple commitment was to never speak of divorce as we took seriously the covenant we were making with and through God. This appreciation of, and sincerity towards covenant kept us united when we faced very serious strain in our early years of marriage. As a young professional fresh out of 6 years of college, marrying my wonderful wife and single mother of two beautiful little girls ages 7 and 8 proved more challenging than I anticipated. I did by no means think things would be easy, but I did not have the wisdom to give up other activities of service I was involved with before getting married, when I absolutely should have in those early years.
The strain of being an instant father, starting my career and simply adapting to early married life should have triggered my common sense enough to stop all extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and when immature and hurtful actions and words along with tremendous misunderstandings rocked our ability to even like one another, and deep questioning of “was this a big mistake” brought us at times to a point that many couples at least would discuss the unspeakable, we held our tongues.
Now 30 years later we remain solid in both our covenant and the “never speak of divorce commitment.” God seems to have blessed our desire to honor him and one another as now it appears we do not have to exercise much discipline to maintain these commitments given the deep intimacy and friendship we enjoy. Yet we know this cannot be taken for granted and we cannot rest on our laurels. Camille and I acknowledge it was not easy to get where we are, and much work was and still is required. There is no sense that we have arrived, and we know that being complacent will only lead to erosion of the gains made. Learning to forgive one another is still critical, and It may just be an excuse for a wonderful trip to Hawaii yearly, but getting away to focus on our marriage at a resort marriage retreat reinvigorates our love for one another and our desire to keep growing as a couple.
Sometimes a healthy fear of God, and an eternal perspective enables God to mature us, and get us beyond the disappointing let down following the infatuation phase in relationships. God gets us through the end of the honeymoon period and moves us steadily towards a beautiful, deepening love that comes from a willingness to trust Him, and to have faith in the process of covenant & commitment. Those who are willing to hold on to this view of marriage can more often than not look back after 30, 40, 50…… years of marriage and give thanks for the love God has brought and continues to grow in their marriage.