In today’s world, the average American marriage lasts eight years before a couple is headed for divorce. The statistics say that twenty-eight percent of evangelical Christian marriages end in divorce, only a few percentage points less than the non-Christian thirty-five percent of couples. All of that said, it is a beautiful thing when marriages outlast the test of time. Today, my Grandparents celebrate sixty-three years of marriage and with that thought in mind, I would like to take a brief look into a few aspects of what makes a marriage endure.
Ask any Christian couple and one of the first things they will tell you is that having God as the foundation of their marriage is paramount. I love going to Christian weddings and seeing how they incorporate the idea of three strands (God and each spouse) into their ceremony. My husband and I took communion, I had a friend who braided a strand of three cords together, some use unity candles and others may simply state in their vows that God is entering into marriage with them. However it is done, it is always such a beautiful part of a wedding ceremony. Marriages that are intentionally built on God as their rock have a better chance of lasting the test of time. Two sinful, broken people entering into relationship with each other need God’s Sovereignty and grace to help their relationship endure.
Prioritizing each other is quite obviously a huge aspect of any marriage. As soon as a couple is married they begin their own family and as The Word talks about in Genesis 2 couples are meant to “leave and cleave”. This of course does not mean you shut the door on your family of origin, but you do consider your spouse and their needs first. I am a firm believer that our priorities should be God first, our spouse second, children third and then everything else will depend on the season you are in and for which you have time and the capability. It may seem obvious to hold your spouse in such a special place, however I suspect it would be surprising the amount of people who lose sight of this and tumble down the path of divorce. As with anything, there will be seasons where having the correct priorities comes easier than others. My husband always reminds me of our vows when I am sick or in some way incapacitated and feel I cannot keep up with all I would like to be doing for him in that time. We vowed to stick together in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, for better or worse.
Prioritizing your spouse does not mean that you are – or should be – with them every waking hour of your life. It is very important to have time to devote to your own hobbies and interests. Going back to my grandparents, my grandpa has always been an outdoorsy guy who would go hunting and fishing when he was younger, while my grandma would stay home and work on quilting or gardening. My husband enjoys football and has season tickets to our local college football team and when home, he’s often found tinkering/fixing things around our home and in the garage. I enjoy grabbing coffee with a friend, reading, writing and occasionally (less now with children in the picture) photography or quilting. While two do become one when you marry, it is healthy to keep your distinct personalities and enjoyments.
Another thing that will go far in making a marriage last is determination to always come back together after an argument. It is important to never hold a grudge and to always come back together after an argument. Friends, we all have disagreements with our spouses, we all say things we regret in the heat of the moment but what is important is that we know how to ask for forgiveness and how to get past the strife. Work on building your marriage as often as you can so that when you do have an argument you have a safe place to return after it has blown over. It is a “checks and balances” system; if you are only ever taking “money” from your marriage account you will quickly become bankrupt.
Finally, there is much to be said about the book Love and Respect and I am not going to get into that today, but I do want to take a moment to talk about each of those concepts. These are fundamental aspects both partners need if a marriage is to be successful. It is not only men that need respect, nor only women who need love. Love and respect are two qualities that will go far towards the betterment of a marriage when applied to both spouses. This conversation often leads into the idea of submission, which I believe is again meant to come from both the husband and wife. Yes, a husband is called to lead however that does not mean they are never to submit. Walking by the Spirit cannot be understated.
This blog is just a very quick look at some of the things I have learned from my grandparents over the 30-plus years I have grown under their beautiful example of marriage. We could spend days talking about each of these concepts, however I hope this quick glance has encouraged you to either continue pursuing a healthy marriage or to known what to pray towards in a future marriage.
Ecclesiastes 4:9:“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”