My oldest daughter, Melissa, married Phil Roe on June 10, 1983, and they have Luke and Savanna in addition to Jennifer. My daughter Lynette married Patrick Brown on Dec. 20, 1985, and they have Kailey and Ashlyn. My son Michael married Karen Cloud on June 15, 1991, and they have Brady, Connor and Garrett. So they are all on their journey through the seasons of their married lives.
As I have contemplated and worked on marriage for half a century, I have come to believe that when God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone, God was revealing to us that he had placed within each human heart an innate need for another human.
My experience with college youths for half a century confirms that idea. Although it is commonly assumed that women are looking for husbands, I believe that men are just as concerned with finding the right wife.
When I was younger, I was a firm believer in the idea of a “soul mate.” I have long since abandoned that notion for a much more realistic view that a woman and a man with mutual commitment to God can have a lasting, meaningful marriage.
Recently Joyce and I were asked what advice we had for people getting married. Joyce promptly replied, “Do everything together.” She certainly believes that from our experiences, but what has made doing everything together successful for us is her good spirit and determination to make experiences fun and meaningful.
I said, “Be sure that you find adventure in life.” Sometimes that adventure is merely enjoying a grandchild’s birthday. These busy days our greatest adventures are quiet dinners at home or Joyce reading aloud a Psalm before we go to bed.
As I reflect on the challenge of spending a lifetime with a person, I am sure that nothing is more important than each person’s commitment to understanding the heart and mind of the other. We are all very different, and we are all growing, changing. What is true of a person one year will change over time. Keeping up with the spiritual, physical and personality changes in a spouse is not easy, but vital. It means never taking each other for granted.
Four centuries ago Shakespeare observed, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bend with the remover to remove: O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken; … Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come; love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.”
Love, not the flimsy stuff of sexual infatuation, is the hard determination of heart and will. Such “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude. It is the self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
I am praying that Christian marriages are committed “Until death parts us.”
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