Dear Marc and Jana,
Congratulations on your wedding day. Becoming husband and wife is a wonderful thing, creating the possibility of the deepest joy or terrible sorrow. No other decision has greater consequence for the rest of your life than the choice of a spouse. God celebrates you today!
The best marriage is built on mutual love for the Lord, not sexual chemistry though sex is a gift of God! Great marriages are not formed around personal compatibility even though it is best to share common values and ideals with our spouse. Your marriage will be strongest if you understand that you are making a covenant together with God at the center. Yes, if each of you loves God even more than you love each other, He will draw you into a relationship that is rock-solid, deeply rewarding, with intimacy that others will envy. Some bring expectations to marriage that are unreasonable. “He/She will complete me, erasing all my disappointment in life,” is a common one. That idea makes for good movies but not for a good life. Your partner is just human. He (generic use here) cannot possibly meet all your emotional or spiritual needs. Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. So, stay strong in the Lord. Love Him and as He makes you whole, forgives you, and heals your hurts, from that strength you will be a great lover, bringing a whole person, not a broken one into the marriage.
Be flexible and learn to accept the changes that inevitably come to us all. No matter how much you plan, life is beyond your control. Too many marriages fail when crisis/change comes. Why? Because a spouse is too ready to ‘blame’ the other one for the unpleasantness of the moment. When the storms blow, and they will, hang onto each other for dear life! Your love will grow in ways you cannot begin to imagine in those difficult times, if you trust each other and God instead of looking for somebody to blame for your misery.
Be content. The flame of your love will sometimes burn brightly and some days will be like a candle’s glow. In those latter times, you are not a terrible person because you feel some unhappiness or wonder about your future together. That’s normal. It’s called ‘being human.’ But, as the Word teaches, ‘guard your heart.’ The grass really isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, so do not compare your marriage, envy your friend’s relationship, or spend wasted time in fantasies. Keep your heart at home and work together at finding your way through the valleys.
Settle each day’s debt that day. God’s wisdom – “don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27, NLT) In your conflicts, and two real people will have conflict, remember that your goal in never to win. It is to resolve the issue. There is a huge difference!
Ask for help! No problem you encounter in your relationship is new or unique. We are amazingly complex beings. Our best and worst traits, habits, and peculiarities show up at home where we feel safest. You probably will not believe me, but that little weird thing that you find so cute about her/him right now will likely become the thing that sets you off when you deal with it day in and day out. If you run into a rough spot, find a wise, older, godly person or couple who can listen, pray, and encourage you. Someday, when you have been married for decades you will be able to share your discoveries with some young couple. That’s the way God meant it to be.
And, celebrate each other. Find reasons to cook special meals, to buy flowers, to leave notes, to say wonderful things. Love is not rocket science, it’s just learning to be aware of your partner and affirming her worth daily. Plenty of people will criticize that person you live with. Don’t be one of them. Add value with words and actions. Are they perfect? No, but neither are you. Celebrate who they are. Make a big deal of their successes, soothe their feelings when they fail.
I pray that today is one you will remember with the greatest joy for many years to come, that you will live in God’s blessings, and most of all – that your marriage will reflect the goodness and grace of God into your world.
Memorize this and choose to live it.
“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head,
doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,”
doesn’t fly off the handle,
doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
doesn’t revel when others grovel,
takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything,
trusts God always, always looks for the best,
never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
Inspired speech will be over some day;
praying in tongues will end;
understanding will reach its limit.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, The Message)
“But for right now, until that completeness,
we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:
Trust steadily in God,
And the best of the three is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, The Message)
Love you both,