I am not sure how people do it, maintain a healthy, happy marriage I mean, without the Lord being the center of their relationship. Of their world really. I seriously don’t think Mitch and I ever would have, could have, lasted these twenty-five years together as husband and wife without God’s grace, wisdom, strength and direction. When things got scary or hairy or messy or muddled, as they inevitably have and will continue to do, with finances, the kids, careers, decisions, relationships and health crises, we have bonded by trusting in the Lord. Praying with one another, studying His Word, seeking Him together, these are the ties that bind. God is truly the glue that holds us together.
There are, however, a few more tools in the box. Over the years, God has shown us ways to make our marriage strong and lasting, to keep us intact. Read on for some sturdy tape that can be very helpful in staying stuck to our mates.
Laughter – No wonder it’s called the best medicine. Researchers at California’s Loma Linda University recently found that elderly participants who spent 20 minutes watching hilarious videos performed considerably better than a group of non-laughers when it came to memory recall. The giggling group also had significantly lower levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone” (Bains & Berk, 2014). Of course there are times that call for strictly serious, but for the day to day, ins and outs and ups and downs of married life, I highly recommend the indisputable joy of a shared laugh. “A cheerful heart is like good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov. 17:22 NIV)
Freedom– I once had a friend so appalled by her hubby’s fashion sense that she actually laid out his clothes for him, sweater to socks. So we’re not talking the occasional, “Hey honey, let’s rethink that tie.” As married people, we have to remember that we’re still individuals, with diverse tastes and unique preferences. On the big stuff, Mitch and I work hard to be on the same page. But I have found that trying to step in on the little stuff (like sweaters and socks) only causes resentment and steals God’s peace in the home. “We endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 9:12 ESV)
Trust– Yes, submission is a difficult concept. It’s tough to give up control. What if it doesn’t work out? What if it’s the wrong decision? What if I was right? In a well-run and peace-filled kingdom, however, a wise queen knows the extreme worth of a good king. When my husband and I don’t see eye to eye, I am called to stop pushing and trust God with the outcome. Submission is definitely about trusting our husbands, but it’s even more about trusting in God. “They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah… you are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” (1 Peter 3:6 NIV)
Fun stuff– Before kids, Mitch and I played on a co-ed softball team, took golf lessons and served together in the nursery at church. Then we started our family and although most of our free time (happily) revolved around the children, we made sure to carve out together time for bike rides, cooking classes and sporting events. Now as empty nesters we can explore even more activities to do together. Some might call these hobbies, we call it marriage maintenance. “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun that to eat and drink and be glad.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15 NIV)
So I am firmly and unwaveringly convinced that the only reason my marriage is still going strong after a quarter of a century is God, and God alone; He is the glue. But I appreciate the additional tools He has shown us, the tape that has been so useful in keeping us close.