Eight days ago my first born son took a bride…a beautiful, sweet young woman. Committing to have and to hold each other, Matthew and Tiffany will walk hand in hand from this day forward.
Michael and I have learned much about marriage over the years, primarily the hard way through great losses, but also from God’s Word and recently through great joy in the bond we now share as husband and wife.
Excerpted below are some of the words we individually sent the newlywed couple on the eve of their wedding. Words that are good reminders no matter how long we’ve been married.
Husband and Wife.
Aren’t those two of the loveliest of words?
Marriage is a loving union of companionship created by God, joining together one man and one woman for all their lives. To live with mutual respect, trust, hope, lots and lots of love, fun, delirious delight, and trust in the God who formed each one of you.
Marriage is the smallest denominator of a family. A husband and a wife form the nucleus of this God-created institution. Marriage is also the most telling mirror God uses to show us our own hearts—both the good and the not-so-good!
But not all days of a lifelong marriage will be lovely. Some will be an opportunity for grace and for personal growth.
Some days you may not enjoy each other. Some days you may feel hurt or angry. Some days you just may be so plain tired that you forget the real reason for marriage, opting to serve yourself instead of your mate first.
And then forgiveness will need to be offered and received as you keep holding each other’s hands and walking towards the future though you may have stumbled for a step or two.
The principle of forgiveness will know no harder proving ground than in a marriage. Jesus was betrayed by a kiss from one of his family. We fare no better: the deepest wounds will come from those who are closest to our hearts. Yet forgive we must! Sincerely. From the heart. For the answer to pain is not in distancing ourselves from its source. God chose to forgive each one of us through a terrible cost to himself. Our Savior, Jesus, was hung on a cross: nail-pierced hands, a crown of thorns. A back ripped open by the lash. His spirit weighed heavy to death by the weight of our sin. All God asks is that we echo his own great heart in ours by forgiving those who owe us so little by comparison. Couples must remain committed to forgiving each other without limit.
He created you equal in essence though different in function. And He created you to submit, first to Him and then to each other in the dance of life for all the years that He will give.
Marriage takes three to be successful. Jesus, Husband, Wife. Three in one, like the Godhead of Father, Son, Spirit. Rely on Him and trust in his Holy Word. Get to know the Jesus of the Gospels regardless of what doctrines you have learned even in the best of churches or from what your parents have taught you. Seek Him for yourself, laying aside any preconceived notions of who He is.
Married couples need to continuously choose one another. As demonstrated by the widespread plague of divorce not even the strongest of romantic links are strong enough on their own to assure a steadfast bond. God chose to love us and through all the ages demonstrates his unswerving faithfulness to this decision of his will. The choosing was independent of our response. Likewise, you must, each day, choose each other in the deepest reaches of your will. Natural affection is too fleeting in the face of trials.
Marriage takes grace…grace to overlook the little irritations. Grace to keep your mouth shut when you want to have your say or think your way is the only way. Grace to realize that you are no better than your spouse. Grace to realize that you cannot make it in this really dark and hard world without The One who loves you best of all.
Marriage is a give and take. But for heaven’s sake give much more than you take! Marriage is serving the other above yourself. Marriage is hard work. Marriage is not for the lazy or the selfish or the proud. Marriage is humbling. Marriage is remembering to appreciate (and share verbally) all our spouse is doing for us and the marriage even when we may think (erroneously) that we are doing more. Marriage, the Bible tells us, is a great blessing, yet not without its share of troubles.
Marriage is our greatest earthly joy. It is a picture of Jesus and all who truly follow Him. A union that will go on no matter what. In marriage, you have a best friend, a confidante, a partner, a lover, a co-parent, a playmate, a buddy…someone who will always be in your corner. Someone to count on when all others walk away. Someone to be your #1 cheerleader and fan. The one who will encourage you to be your best, but also accept you at your worst (although for marital harmony and joy, we should all try to limit our worst).
Marriage is a soft word spoken without a sound being uttered. Marriage is a look across a crowded room that only the two of you understand. Marriage is some enchanted evening. Marriage is a hand reaching for yours when you feel down or have messed up. Marriage is a great big hug for no reason at all. Marriage is sharing private sillies and laughing your heads off at two in the morning! Marriage is a warm body next to yours all through the night making you feel safe and loved and secure.
Wife – never for a moment forget to respect your husband as you love him. Mind your words, your tone, your facial expressions. God has placed him as your head. Not in a bad way, but to protect and provide for you and to love you all his life. I did not understand this when I was your age and much was lost as a result.
Beware of words and their power upon each other! The Bible tells us to limit our speech to that which is proper and good for the moment and benefits and builds up those who hear it. Elsewhere in God’s word we are warned of the prospect of our tongues being used to further the aims of hell. Couples must always be prepared to build each other up through sincere and gracious speech.
Husband – never forget for a moment to affectionately love your wife as you respect her. Let your words be tender, she is the weaker vessel and you will be used by God to help heal her heart as she will be used to help heal yours. God has created her as your helpmate, yet she is your strong, good partner in life who will add much to your union. I am not sure I was treated this way when I was a young bride and as a result, much was lost.
Anger must not be allowed to hold sway: the sun cannot go down on anger for this emotion is too deadly a foe to feed and still control. When the Lord reminds us that we are petting the dragon of anger we must let it go. You cannot hope to forgive whom you are still angry at. Couples can ill afford to shelter anger as a household pet.
Marriage is all these things and so much more that you will discover each day along your journey together. You are embarking on the grandest of human adventures. Treasure the gift you have been given in each other. Read your vows together regularly. Read scripture and pray together. Seek the highest good, always putting your spouse first, right after Jesus.
And love. Love a lot. Love well. Love when you don’t feel like it. Love when it hurts. Forget what the world says love is or the past poor examples from your parents and seek the author of Love and follow His example in the fours Gospels. Love is First Corinthians Thirteen. Love is God sending His son to take away our sins and die for us.
Most importantly, you must love one another! If you do everything else perfectly, if you forgive, honor, cast off your anger the moment it comes and if you speak only that which blesses your spouse yet do not love them with the love supplied you by God, you will miss the mark and lasting joy will escape you.
Our heartfelt prayers fly heavenward on your behalf and ever shall. We will be among your most ardent fans, encouraging and cheering you on. Our hopes for you are born of our own failures and spur us to passionately desire to see the two of you overcome where we have stumbled.
With much love,
Mom and Michael