My husband, Scott, and I were cuddling in the hot tub last night at the club after water aerobics, something we enjoy and feel very spoiled doing. When I went into the dressing room to change, a woman spoke to me. She told me that my husband and I looked very much in love. I told her we certainly were … 32 years worth of being in love. She asked the usual questions about how old we were when we were married, etc. But then she asked, “Have you had some tough times, some REALLY BAD ones?” I told her the answer was a definite yes. She asked what our secret was. I prayed. I knew this was a divine appointment.
I told her that during our premarital counseling, our pastor had told us three things we should live by in order to stay married for a lifetime: 1) we had to be more committed to the covenant and relationship than to the other person; 2) we couldn’t base our relationship on our feelings because they ebb and flow; and 3) love was not a feeling but a moment by moment choice. I then said that during times of impasse and emotional tension, we always went back to these foundational principles. These principles always brought us back together.
After a moment of taking it in, she then said, “Oh, you had pre-marital counseling. That was probably a good idea. What church was that?” And I told her. I looked into her eyes as we chatted briefly about churches. As we both prepared to leave, I told her my name and that I enjoyed our chat. She told me her name and said the same. I told her I was sure we’d see each other again at the next class.
“Nancy” has been on my mind. Who knows what was really behind her questions and comments. All I know is that our paths crossed; I believe she needed me right then. Me … someone who had been through some REALLY BAD times in my marriage and stayed married through them. I certainly wasn’t thinking how much God would use those times in the future when I was going through them! Those times felt lonely and hurtful and dark.
I think most people have an unrealistic view of marriage. Most people live as though everything revolves around themselves. But this view leads to hurt, frustration, unhappiness, resentment, anger and divorce. God wants to give us a different list: oneness, contentment, fulfillment, purpose, companionship, lifelong love. This list comes with hard work and sacrifice, not because we insisted on our own way. It only comes when we’re willing to give up our own preferences and meet the needs of our loved one. As we give, our loved one gives back to us. It always works … every time.
No matter where you are in your relationship at this moment, fight for your marriage! Nurture! Sacrifice! Speak encouraging words! Be willing to feel some pain if needed to push through to enjoy the next season together. At the end of your life, you won’t remember the painful times. You’ll remember that you loved for a lifetime … and it was worth every day of choosing.