21 Years. That’s how long Michelle and I have been married. It’s kind of an insane amount of time when you think about it. How many people under 45 have been involved in any one thing for that long? Or look at it this way; I’ve now been married for over half of my life. Wow.
So inevitably people ask me, as if I have some incredible insight, how I managed to stay married for so long. What I’ve discovered is that each year I have a slightly different answer, and I think it’s slightly different because each year I get a little older, and a little more experienced. I’m able to look back and see where I screwed up to be honest, and that’s a good thing. The opposite side of that is that I realize now matter how long Michelle and I are together, we still have more to learn about how to get along and relate to each other. There’s still growing to do. Nobody ever has it totally figured out.
I will say though that over the past four or five years especially, I’ve really learned that marriage is not just about “Me”. It’s not about what I can get out of it. It’s not about how it pleases me. This was kind of a huge revelation for me because I think so many marriages fail because people view their marriages like they view buying a car. How will I look in it? How will it make me feel? How will it benefit me? The problem with that is, cars lose their luster over time and then you want a new one.
So how should we view marriage? Well, since God created marriage, you have to go to God to find out. Ephesians 5:25-30 says:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; because we are members of his body.
That’s some powerful stuff right there. Love your wife as Christ loved the church (church meaning us). So how did Christ love the church? Well, most notably, he died a horrible death for it. That’s some pretty serious stuff. But he also taught it, he cared for it, he led it, he set an example for it. He didn’t show it off, or demand pleasure from it, or demean it, or exploit it, or ignore it. He served it. Wow.
So we are called to do that for our wives. How many of us really view our marriages as an opportunity to lead, to teach, to set an example for, much less to die for? What about the part about loving your wife as you love yourself? How many of us guys can honestly say we care about our wives as much as we care about ourselves? Think good and hard before you answer that.
There’s some choice stuff in Ephesians for you women too. But I’ll let you look that up for yourselves because I honestly believe that the majority of marital problems start with us men. Looking back at 21 years of making mistakes in my own marriage, and looking at the marriages of my friends, I can say that with complete confidence. If only us guys got ourselves in line with Christ’s example, I would bet that the divorce rate would drop from 51% to probably around 20% or less. It’s on us guys. Time to step up.
So those are my thoughts for year 21. Wow, year 21. I am incredibly blessed.