This post was originally published by Servants of Grace on September 22, 2014 in their “Singleness, Marriage, and Parenting” series.
by Zach Kendrick
Have you ever heard someone say, “They just don’t make things the way they use to?” This statement is usually made about cars, houses, washing machines, and other equipment. This example also applies to marriage, since it seems today people don’t take marriage as seriously as they used to. At the root of marriage being attacked and redefined, in my view is people not taking the covenant of marriage seriously.
Recently, my wife’s grandfather passed away at the age of 83. He and my wife’s grandmother had been married for fifty-five years. Marriages lasting that long are almost unheard of today. It’s a miracle if they last ten to twenty years. My wife and I were blessed with opportunity to spend substantial with her grandmother during the time her grandfather was in the hospital before he passed away. As we talked with her she shared with us four lessons on marriage and how to make it last.
First, the key to a lasting marriage starts with the right perspective. My wife’s grandparent’s got married rather young according to today’s standards. My wife’s grandparents resolved early on that marriage is meant for a lifetime. You and I live in a culture that emphasizes instant gratification and convenience. If you don’t like a product you throw it away and buy another one. Most companies have a money back guarantee, so you can get your money back if you don’t like it. This is not how God designed marriage to operate. Genesis 2:24 states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” My wife’s grandmother held to what the Bible teaches and stayed by her husband’s side until the day he died. There were days, she admitted, that he drove her crazy but she took her promise seriously and remained faithful to the end.
Second, she told us that, “sometimes you just need to be by yourself.” Being one flesh doesn’t mean spending every moment together. Every couple needs personal space. Sometimes, as my wife’s grandmother admitted, a married couple needs some time alone. Time alone allows you and I relax and enjoy our respective hobbies. My wife’s grandfather was a farmer. Her grandmother was a housewife. She spent her day cleaning the house and making sure the home was in order. She admitted to us that she loved being a housewife. This allowed her time alone to think and pray. You may not have time at work to think and pray, but everyone needs some time alone. I encourage you to find a hobby that allows you time alone to reset.
Third, she told us, “In marriage, if things go fifty percent your way, consider yourself blessed.” We are selfish creatures and we all want our own way. When I first heard this advice, my first thought was “not everything is worth fighting for.” Married couples will not always agree. There will be times when you do not get your way and times when you do. It’s not worth trying to force your way onto your spouse. Learning to work through issues in your marriage is crucial to having a healthy marriage. Paul says in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” When we seek to serve our spouse, we are seeking to love them like Christ.
Fourth, she reminded us “One day problems in marriage will seem small.” This statement is absolutely true! The problems you face in marriage right now will not always be a problem. Understanding and applying this truth will allow your marriage to have staying power. Many marriages allow trivial problems to drive them to divorce. Resolving to stay together and work through issues in our marriages instead of retreating from them will result in a stronger marriage. My wife’s grandmother admitted that through the years her marriage had its problems. After fifty-five years of marriage though she told my wife and I that none of that mattered, as they loved one another. Here’s the key for our marriages: Focus on the big picture. Don’t allow small problems to drive a wedge between you and your spouse. In other words, don’t make the problem bigger than it needs to be. Communicate with one another and work on your issues head on with God’s help and if needed the help of your local church.
Learn from those who’ve been married a long time
There is much to be learned from those who’ve been married for a long time like my wife’s grandparents. They have the battle scars of life, which testify that they made it through difficulty. If you are single, I encourage you to seek out a godly man or woman who has been married for at least twenty-five years and ask them questions about marriage. If you are engaged, seek out a godly couple that has been married for at least twenty-five years and ask them questions about marriage. There is wisdom is listening to those who have made it through the fire. If you are married and are contemplating divorce I encourage you to seek the counsel of a godly counselor. Do not give up and remember, the problems you face today will one day seem small.
This post is dedicated in honor of my wife’s grandmother, Maxine Jones. Thank you for the godly example of a faithful marriage. May Courtney and I heed the advice you have given us with your life!