“As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two.” ~Thomas Adam
Since today is our twenty-first wedding anniversary, my thoughts have been filled with gratefulness to God for blessing me with my wonderful spouse. Duane is truly my best friend and the one who gently and lovingly cares for my heart. I love each opportunity that we have to intimately share our dreams, desires, and struggles. Nevertheless, we do struggle like everyone else in maintaining our marriage and not allowing other things to take priority over it.
I like this quote from John Graham: “Even if marriages are made in Heaven, man has to be responsible for the maintenance.” Those of us who are married know that maintaining a marriage takes much work; great marriages don’t happen by default! Unfortunately, too many marriages are suffering today because “pursuing each other” ends at the altar.
Let’s compare marriage to a tender young plant. Many times we don’t treat the marriage relationship as delicately as we should. We over analyze our relationship rather than nourishing and cultivating it. It’s as if we pull it out of the soil every day just to see if the roots are still growing and healthy, when the best thing to do is to lovingly and gently nurture it. What happens to a beautiful, flowering plant when we take great pleasure in it for a while, but then after some time we don’t take the time to water and nourish it? It soon begins looking withered and ugly instead of even resembling the beautiful plant it used to be. Do you see telltale signs of this happening in your marriage? If so, it’s time to do your part and get out your watering can!
I am so thankful that God has blessed me with a husband who sees the importance of utilizing his most important watering can. God has impressed on Duane’s heart the need to wash me “by the water of the Word.” This is one vital key in maintaining a godly spirit in our marriage.
I believe that we, women, often forget that our first calling from God is to be a helpmeet for our husband. This calling should come even before the calling of motherhood. I have not always done a very good job of demonstrating this. It is so easy to put most of my energy into taking care of the needs of my children or other ministry opportunities, then my husband gets stuck with what’s left over. At these times, God has to remind me that I was a wife and helpmeet before I became a mother. God does want us to nurture and take care of our children, but they should never come before our spouse. “A child-centered marriage is a recipe for disaster.” What will your relationship look like after your children are grown and able to take care of themselves? Moms, will you struggle with knowing what your purpose is and where you fit in life? If you make your relationship with your spouse a priority, then you will realize that you still have the calling of being a helpmeet to your husband. The best thing that we can do for our children is to love our spouse in the way that God intended.
Zig Ziglar once said, “Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.” Is this an issue in your marriage? Are there misunderstandings that happen frequently in your relationship? If so, then I would encourage you to see if you are hearing your spouse’s heart instead of becoming condemning. Rather than being quick to climb into the chair of the Accuser, you need to make a deliberate choice to sit in the chair of the Interceder. Do you judge your spouse by his/her actions, but then judge yourself by your good intentions? How you handle your spouses’s shortcomings and failures reveals more about your own character than theirs.
I was recently blessed by a letter that Duane wrote to me on my birthday. One of the most important keys that we have found that help produce a godly marriage is contained in his last sentence. I thought I would share a portion of the letter with you:
To my sweetheart, Cindy,
You are the closest one on earth to me: my dearest, my wife, and the mother of our children. So much of my and your identity is in the word, us. I don’t understand the dynamics of what happened at the marriage altar, but God’s Word is so true. The two of us have become ONE!
I am praying that this next year for you will be the best ever. That you will have greater fulfillment and greater joy than before. I pray that as you’ve allowed your soul to be enlarged, you will experience God’s peace more than ever.
Let’s continue to grow more into the image of Jesus and impact this culture for the sake of the gospel.
I love you!
“Marriage is hard work and can be a bumpy road at times. But if I hang on tight to the hem of Jesus and the hand of my husband – I’ll have the best ride of my life!”