13 years ago on May 4th I picked up my on again of again girlfriend. Our relationship had gone through many ups and downs since we first started dating. Over the last year the relationship was volatile at best. She was still living in Florida going to college (she was Junior in college). I had already graduated and was working as a lab technician for the incoming quality control department of a local factory in Illinois where I grew up. I had gone done to see her twice that year, neither of which ended up the way either of us had hoped. We broke up both times. The long distance relationship was just too hard and she still had another year of college to go. To be honest when I left Florida in late March of that year I never expected to see her again. I was ready to move on with my life. She called me and said she wanted to come and see me as soon as the school year was over. She actually wanted me to go up to Chicago with her for the week. I had to work and told her if she wanted to see me, she would have to come done to where I lived. She agreed so long as I went to Chicago over the weekend. So, I picked her up at the airport in Indianapolis and began our journey to Chicago. On our way there, she asked me to marry her. I didn’t respond. In fact, I think I nearly ran the car of the road. It was a pretty quiet drive up I-65 that Friday evening. I spent many hours in prayer over the next couple of days and by Tuesday I told her yes. On May 4, 2002 my wife and I got married. In the 12 years that have followed we have had 4 children. Each of these children have been born in different states. I have lived in 4 different states, and I have lived in 7 different homes. The only constants I have had is my God and my wife. She has been there through it all. I would be lying if I told you the marriage has not had problems. It has. We have had good days and bad days. We have had good years and bad ones. But one thing we have always had is each other.
I realize that 12 years of marriage is nothing compared to the 35 years that good friends of ours celebrated on May 4th. But it is 12 more years than I had 12 years ago. What I can tell you is that the secret to a strong marriage is having a strong relationship with God. Psa. 127:1 reads, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it.” Unless God is the center of your home, it is not guaranteed to stand the test of time. Divorce is the leading cause of the death of a marriage (it is not same-sex marriage as many seem to be claiming). What brings about that divorce might vary. It might have been infidelity. It might be that you fell “out of love.” It might be that you can’t stand the in-laws. It might be that he just isn’t the guy you married. But, unless you get divorced the marriage is still there, it might be on life support, but it is still alive. Only divorce can finally kill it. And God clearly states that he hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). Let that sink in. God hates divorce; just like he hates a lying tongue, feet that run swiftly to wickedness, and hands that shed innocent blood (Prov. 6:16-19). If we make God the builder of our homes, or our marriages then it begins by proclaiming that I hate marriage. On the day I got married, Kenny Chumbley, the man who performed the ceremony said something I will never forget. He told us to let the word be stricken from our vocabulary. Never let it enter our minds. While life has not always been rose tinted gardens we have never slept under different roofs because we were angry. She has never ran home to dad. I have never ran home to mom. Divorce has never been an option. When we said, “til death do us part” we took that vow seriously. And since divorce is not an option it forced us to grow up, to realize that we are going to have to learn how to work through our differences with peace, love and understanding. I know that a marriage is not a job, but it seems any more that people have greater loyalty to their job than they do to their marriage, especially since the economy has been struggling. We wouldn’t dare walk out on our job because we know we need it. We know that we cannot afford to not have it. So, we put up with a ton at work. We let our boss walk over us. We live with the fact we don’t get along with our co-workers. Because at the end of the day, having that job is too important. So, we find a way to deal with the differences with our boss. We find a way to be more understanding with our co-workers. When we first get married we certainly feel that way about our spouses. We can’t imagine life without him/her. That is why we get married. But, when trials come, when that “honeymoon” period is over many think that it is okay just to walk out. It isn’t. You made a vow. You made a promise not just to her/him, but to God. Find a way to make it work.
While I am sure that I have given her a few of her grey hairs and I am sure that I am a little thinner on top due to our disagreements, we still have each other. When the argument was over we laid in each other’s arms. We said I love you. After these 12 years I still can’t imagine life without her. After 12 years I still need her. And I hope and pray that God gives us another 50+ more years together.