My wife, Sarah, and I have only been married for a year now, so we certainly don’t qualify as experts on marriage. But we have learned at least two things about ourselves and about how we should (and hopefully will) pursue our marriage going forward.
1) Community is Key.
Being around other people who support your marriage is really important. It’s easy, right out of the chapel, to tell your new spouse that he or she is the only person you need in your life. But what happens when you fight with your spouse? Who gives you advice on how to proceed? Or even worse, what if you and your spouse agree on the same issue, but have chosen the wrong side? Who is going to step in and tell you as a couple, “We love you, but you should re-evaluate.” In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are charged to not only to “consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds,” but also reminded that we cannot do so if we “give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” For us, this community manifested itself in our life-group through Green Hills Church, which provided us with 6 other couples with whom we could share our lives and faiths.
2) Focus on the Mission
This point was really brought out by Francis and Lisa Chan’s book, You and Me Forever, which our life-group studied together. The Bible is full of directives, telling you what you should (and should not) do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed as you attempt to follow them all, and even easier to mentally scream “legalism!” and refuse to follow any. But the moment before Christ left this earth, He gave His disciples one final instruction: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). Luke expounds on this final moment, adding Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It could not be clearer that our final instruction — the last direction to hold on to until Christ comes again — is to be missional. Most of you will have heard whole sermons on these points before, but what Francis and Lisa Chan really pointed out in their book was this direction is crucial for marriages. While interests and passions change as you grow older, God’s calling for us to be missional will not change. If you and your spouse are resolutely focused on the same goal, you will always be united. Like athletes from different backgrounds, whose love of the game brings them together, how much more will our love and dedication to God’s purpose in our lives draw us closer to our spouse? A few months ago, Sarah and I decided to heed the Chan’s advice, and to consciously focus our marriage on furthering the gospel — and I can confidently say that while our free time has dramatically decreased, I’ve never felt closer to her.
Marriage has been an exciting ride with few dull moments and many unanticipated lessons. We count ourselves extremely blessed that we have such a strong community of believers to teach us, rebuke us and train us in righteousness. We can’t wait for what’s next.