Marriage takes work – a lot of it.
In almost every wedding I officiate I remind the couple that marriage takes work. Hard work. But it’s worth it for you and, if applicable, for your children.
I once read,
“Marriage is work. Anyone who says it isn’t has never been married.”
And, this gem:
“Love is blind. Marriage is the eye-opener.” (Can I get an amen?)
The Bible presents marriage as a holy union between a man and woman joined together by God, himself.
According to the clear teaching of scripture, marriage is a precious gift from God. Consequently, ignoring its health is foolish and risks judgment.
Further, marriage is a picture of God’s relationship to the New Testament church as Christ, the Bridegroom, comes for his Bride, Christians, to gather her for the marriage supper of the Lamb.
This is precisely why I begin every wedding with, “Make no mistake: what we’re experiencing here is a worship service. We are on holy ground.”
Practically, marriage is like a garden, of sorts. A garden that receives the consistent care of removing weeds, watering and fertilizer thrives and blossoms. A garden that is neglected and ignored ends up a mess, potentially dying altogether.
Can a couple fall out of love? Absolutely. Can they fall back into love? Absolutely.
Make no mistake: mine and Michelle’s marriage is no different than anyone else’s. There have been good years as well as not-so-good years.
So, what does “work” for a healthy marriage look like?
1) Well, sometimes it requires professional counseling. To you men thinking, “What good is that gonna do?”, counseling is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of real strength. How so? Because we’ve finally checked our ego enough to admit what the rest of the world knows: we just don’t have all the answers and could, if we’re being brutally honest, use a little help. When Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek,” he wasn’t talking about weakness. He was talking about gentleness and ‘strength under control’. This is what admitting we could use some help means.
2) Michelle and I have also attended a few marriage workshops over the years. (This is typically where I discover I’ve been doing everything wrong. :)) But, if the workshop/retreat is produced well, it can be, both, rewarding and encouraging to see that your marriage is most likely like everyone else’s i.e. a husband and wife who love each other deeply, but could use a little help with this thing we call life.
3) And, finally, just good ol’ self-help. Presently, Michelle and I are reading a couple of books by Shaunti & Jeff Feldman. Mine is titled ‘For Men Only’ and hers is (you guessed it) ‘For Women Only’. What’s pretty hilarious is that my book comes with a ‘Quick Start Guide’ folded up inside the front cover. Hers does not.
Whether you’re on your first, second or whatever marriage, put the work into it that your mate deserves. Moreover, put the work into it that God commands.