There are a few events in life that are pure treasure. One took place a week ago when my daughter married her middle-school, high-school, and college sweetheart, the man she calls her best friend. Another took place 42 years and a day ago when I married the man who is my best friend, too.
As we walked our daughter down the aisle to give her to the man of her dreams, I couldn’t have been happier. He’s a fine young man with a heart for God and a deep love for her―a good combination for a marriage that can go the distance.
One good thing about watching your grown child prepare to marry is how it can focus your own attention on what marriage ought to be.
If I want a marriage that can last until dissolved by death, I won’t find the model in what American media portrays as the ideal love. I can find it in what God tells us about the kind of love that can bind two into one for a lifetime.
We all love a good romance. I enjoy writing novels that have a love story woven through the plot. Who doesn’t love a story where a man and woman struggle against difficulties, finally overcome them all, and find happiness in each other’s arms, with promises of happily ever after?
So often that happiness is framed in terms of how that one person fulfills all the other’s needs. But real life isn’t fiction. In real life, I can never expect another person to do that. In some things for a short time…maybe. But in everything important for a lifetime? Not possible.
To expect that is selfish. If we focus more on what we get than what we give, if we allow discontent to grow when we get less than we want or think we deserve, the happiness we seek will elude us. Too many messages today tell us that if we’re not fulfilled, it’s time to change partners to find another who can fulfill us.
Romantic love that can go the distance is the kind of love the apostle Paul described in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 13:4-7). It’s good that this reading is chosen by so many couples as part of their marriage ceremony.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)
No one can live that kind of love perfectly by themselves. We all have days when we’re less than kind and decidedly impatient. Days when we’re resentful or irritable or insist on getting our own way. But God will help us do better when we ask Him.
I’m not perfect…never will be. But I’ve been abundantly blessed because I married a man who loves me with all my imperfections and idiosyncrasies. Someone who tries to be patient and kind and so many of the other things that Paul describes as love. I try to love him the same way. Forty-two years together isn’t long enough, and I thank God for blessing us with the years we’ve had as I look forward to many more.
My prayer for my daughter and her new husband is for them to love each other with a 1st Corinthians kind of love and enjoy the happiest of married lives because of it.
As we enter the season of many weddings, let’s all pray for that kind of love for the newlyweds in our lives and for us “old married folks” as well!