I stood with my bride in front of about three hundred friends and family. She was nineteen, and I was only eighteen. (Yes, we were too young.) The date was July 12, 1975.
With boldness, I declared to her in our vows, “With this wing, I thee red.” I didn’t realize what I said until I heard the restrained giggles throughout the crowd.
I wish I could tell you it was the last time I experienced dyslexic speaking. It wasn’t.
And here I sit forty-six years later, and I am reflecting on the lessons learned. I am also wondering how any woman could endure me for so long, but I’m humbled and grateful for her love.
The following list will take you less than two minutes to read, but I suggest you read slowly and ponder deeply.
Here are the things I’ve learned, and most of them the hard way:
1. Marriage is challenging for everyone.
2. Marriage brings out the best in us.
3. Marriage brings out the worst in us.
4. Marriage helps develop your character.
5. Marriage success isn’t measured by the absence of failure but by the lessons learned along the journey.
6. Marriage helps you learn to be otherly.
7. Marriage provides the opportunity for the deepest emotional bond with another human.
8. Marriage is an adventure in discovery.
9. Marriage is fun.
10. Marriage is fulfilling.
11. Marriage is about staying the course despite the ups and downs.
12. Marriage is built upon covenant love rather than conditional performance.
13. Marriage is stressful, but stress is where we grow best.
14. Marriage is where we learn to explore the joy of sexual pleasure in the safety of covenant love.
15. Marriage is more about supporting the other rather than completing yourself.
16. Marriage is sometimes a wild ride.
17. Marriage is sometimes boring.
18. Marriage involves change—lots and lots of change.
19. Marriage is a mirror that reflects what is in your heart, mind, and soul.
20. Marriage demonstrates to a watching world the love of Christ for us.
21. Marriage is sometimes like popcorn, delicious when it’s hot and savory.
22. Marriage is sometimes like stale, moldy bread when it’s not kept fresh.
23. Marriage requires intentional effort to stay fresh.
24. Marriage involves seasons and a recurring cycle of romance, trouble, disillusionment, and joy.
25. Marriage is about keeping the grass green on your side of the fence rather than comparing your marriage or spouse to others.
26. Marriage involves risk, and there is no guarantee it will be easy or always what you want.
27. Marriage has the potential for great rewards.
28. Marriage sex for a man is a significant way he bonds emotionally with his wife.
29. Marriage bonding for a woman comes through a lot of non-sexual affection.
30. Marriage communication involves more listening than talking.
31. Marriage includes making lots and lots of mistakes.
32. Marriage involves realizing how unmet expectations always lead to conflict and then learning how to better communicate about your legitimate needs.
33. Marriage is about moving forward rather than getting stuck in the present or fixating on the past.
34. Marriage is impossible when you attempt to do it in your strength.
35. Marriage is an expression of God’s mercy and grace when we choose to love an imperfect person unconditionally.
36. Marriage should include healthy relational boundaries.
37. Marriage can be both sweet and sour simultaneously, and that’s both normal and okay.
38. Marriage success includes learning to underreact rather than overreact.
39. Marriage isn’t for the faint of heart.
40. Marriage stamina comes from practice, commitment, and holy determination.
41. Marriage involves learning how to recover from despair, disappointment, and defeat.
42. Marriage isn’t always pretty on the outside, but looking good without being good is a foolish endeavor.
43. Marriage is often a lot like pushing a giant rock uphill, but the challenge helps us grow in faith, hope, and love.
44. Marriage is terrific when you decide to make it amazing because you have realized that you become what you focus on, and belief determines behavior.
45. Marriage is a priceless gift that can grow in value with time and tender loving care.
46. Marriage is about learning to walk in a lifestyle of forgiveness.
Okay, you probably buzzed through the list a bit too quickly. I wholeheartedly recommend a slow reread and some holy self-evaluation.
And here’s a bonus lesson that I’ll end with: Take the time and effort needed to invest in your marriage. Next to your relationship with Jesus, no other relationship matters more.
By the way, I wrote a book about marriage and you can find it here. This is one great way to invest in your marriage!
“Here’s My plan,
a man will leave his father and mother to create a new family
where he and his wife will hold fast to each other
and become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24 (Bubna Paraphrase Version)