Some years ago I watched the tender story of a rural Southerner, who had just returned from World War 11. He could not get the picture of a beautiful young girl he had met years before out of his mind. Unexpectedly she came back onto the scene, but she was engaged to another man. However, their love was re-ignited, they married and their story of love unfolds in a deeply moving portrayal of love and commitment. If you have watched the Notebook, you know that it is a remarkable story of the love and commitment of two people.
Why do we love movies like the Notebook? I think it is because we hope and aspire to that kind of deep and lasting relationship. Some people may think it is a fantasy, a silly romantic notion because the kind of love and commitment in that story is unachievable. I want to disagree. I believe that the Bible shows that we were made for a deep, meaningful and committed relationship like marriage. So let us look at what the Bible says.
1. Marriage is a lifelong commitment: Jesus said in Mark 9:6-12 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh…Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate…Anyone that divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” I cannot say it any more simply than Jesus did. This verse should not be used to condemn anyone whose marriage has failed and experienced the pain accompanying divorce. There is always heartache associated with broken relationships and I do believe that God forgives, heals and restores. However, what Jesus said, reveals that marriage should be a lifetime commitment.
2. Marriage takes a lot of hard work: Good marriages do not just happen. A good marriage takes two people working hard all the time. Every marriage will face challenges. Two imperfect human beings come together with different values and ideas and they have to learn to merge and to compromise with their differences. This is the meaning of ‘the two become one flesh.’ Be patient with each other, give one another room to make mistakes, be kind and forgiving and constantly communicate through the difficult times. There is nothing worse than giving each other the silent treatment. And above all else, don’t give divorce a second thought - it should never be an option. If you are divorced and reading this post please don't quit - I am not being judgmental! I do believe there are some marriages that are so awful that they displease God more than divorce. If a spouse is being perpetually abusive, it may be more obnoxious to God than divorce...just my thoughts!
3. Marriage can be deeply satisfying: A lot of research on marriage reveals that married people are generally healthier, more content and live longer than others. You will go through challenging times in your relationship because you are both human. But the longer you are with each other, the more comfortable you get. You may at times feel that your spouse is not giving your marriage everything you are committing to it. Keep on loving and pouring into your marriage - love even when that love is not returned - your spouse will eventually not be able to resist the constant love and care coming from you. 1 Peter4: 8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sin.”
I understand that married life can be more complex than I have made it appear. There is only so much you can say in a devotional! Some people may think I am a little simplistic. They are probably right! However, I do believe that the bond of marriage is a unique one and it can be one of the most fulfilling relationships if you allow God to be at the center.
If your marriage lacks passion the very dumbest thing you can do is to look elsewhere. I can guarantee you that the problems you take from one relationship will go with you into the next. My advice would be to stop, think about what attracted you to your spouse in the first place. Then think about ways in which you can woo them - allow that spark of love to be rekindled. Never fantasize about anyone other than your spouse. That is dangerous territory! Let your focus be your spouse...imagine ways to love and please him/her. And then, be realistic about each other and above all else, keep working at building a deep, meaningful and lasting relationship.
Could anything be more rewarding at the end of your life than clinging to the weathered hand of the person you have loved throughout your life, and knowing that your love has outlasted every problem, challenge and struggle? Now that is a legacy to leave for your children!!
I am and always will be,
Recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,