On May 20th Marilynn and I celebrated 36 years of marriage.  It’s been a great ride, involving great joy and challenges at different times during the journey.  Yet, through it all, we’d both marry each other again, without hesitation. Therefore, today, I wanted to give you some of my thoughts on our marriage, marriage in general, and some ways you can make it to 36 and beyond!  Here they are:

1. Marriage is a covenant, not a contract.  The marriage debate in today’s culture is trying to reduce marriage to a mere contract.  The problem with looking at marriage as a contract is that if one side doesn’t fulfill his or her side, the contract can be nullified and voided.  That’s why we must look at marriage as a covenant, an eternally-bound agreement, given to humanity by God himself, for the health of the couple, their children and society in general.  Marilynn and I still believe the back door in our marriage is locked from the outside.  We can’t leave.  We can’t divorce.  Why?  It’s because God is the author of the agreement.  Therefore, we are to work out our difficulties no matter what.

2. Great marriages are made up of two great forgivers.  Because we’re human, we step on each other’s toes, hurt one another.  Most of the time it’s unintentional.  Sometimes, sadly, we hurt each other intentionally.  The desire to win the argument motivates angry words that we know will hurt.  After all, when you’ve lived with someone as long as we’ve lived together, we know each other’s places of vulnerability.  That’s why we need to forgive each other constantly.  We need to forgive as God has forgiven us.  We need to extend grace to ensure healing occurs and the 37th year can occur!

3. Great marriages don’t just happen.  They occur by spending time together.  The more time you spend together, the better the marriage. Marilynn resists, as her primary relationships, a gaggle of girlfriends.  I resist, as my primary friendships, the group of guy friends.  We want each other to be each other’s best friend.  With an empty nest now, we are desirous of spending even more time tougher.  Guess what we’re discovering?  We’re enjoying each other’s friendship more than we ever have before.  We continue to learn this maxim: it’s easy to leave your spouse.  It’s impossible to leave your best friend.

4. Great marriages are an accumulation of great memories.  If Marilynn and I divorced, what would most be shattered is our collective memories: the birth of our children, the pain and struggles we both went through to build Forest Hill, all our ministry service to other people both in Charlotte and around the world, the birth of our grandkids, etc.  Those memories cement our hearts of love together.  They are not insignificant.  They are a reason to keep a couple working toward an even better marriage.  We can’t begin to imagine what our collective memories will be like should we make it to year 72 in our marriage.  We’re convoked the collective memories will be joyously off the chart!

I pray your marriages will continue to grow and be strong.  And remember: marriage is God’s idea.  As you develop yours for him, and his glory, you make his heart smile.  You help fulfill his will for your life.

And the benefits to you and this nation are astronomical!

To God alone and always belongs ALL the glory.

If you like to read the insights from the daily Bible reading in Mark, please click here.