Did you ever think you and your husband (or wife) might be poster children for marriage?
After all, you cared enough to commit--and you're still married. Every day you decide again to love each other.
If you doubt you've grown, look back and see how your marriage relationship has deepened and strengthened.
That screams against the plot of almost every TV show and movies, where if marriages are shown, they're mostly troubled. People sleep around. Cynics and bitter divorcees figure into many plots.
So where is a positive image of marriage to be found if not from people like you?
Notice, I did not say, "perfect marriage partners."
There's a great commercial running now calling for foster parents. It says something like, "You don't have to be perfect. You just need to care and be willing."
Marriage is like that, too. Marriages endure not because the husband and wife are perfect, but because they love and they are willing.
- Willing to forgive.
- Willing to work through the tough stuff of life together.
- Willing to keep at it and try again.
The Apostle Paul tells us how:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. --Ephesians 4:32
Everybody has "issues." Get over it
That's a lesson many of us have to learn along the way.
Children and singles think in terms of, "I, me and mine." As a married couple, life gets happier when each one frames life in terms of, "you, us and ours."
One day it's this person whose needs take first priority, the next it's the other. In a marriage, in a family, it's give-and-take. Without keeping score.
In a marriage, if one person always "wins," both lose.
That means instead of harping on faults, real or imagined, we strive to commend strengths and affirm what's good.
Do we all fail? Sure, but as Christians we know what love means.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. --1 Peter 4:8
Just "being there" counts
So you're not perfect. None of us are. But you are there.
When you stay, you give your kids a gift beyond price. Your children will know the balance of having a mom and a dad. Moms provide the, "Oh, be careful! You could get hurt!"
Dads say, "Aw, you'll be fine. Go for it!"
Children do best when they grow up with that mix of caution and daring.
As you stay, you model for your children that you believe in marriage and consider your life as a family worth what it takes to keep it going.
You give your kids an example that will strengthen them when they marry.
You bless the people around you, too, the silent watchers.
Some may be disillusioned and uncertain about marriage. As you share how God strengthens you and supplies the love you need to forgive and to keep on, your words carry weight. That can powerfully encourage other couples who've hit a rough spot.
You don't need to be an expert or play games. You point them to Help when you say, "My husband and I couldn't make it if we didn't know we can lean on the Lord."
As you do, you witness to the value of marriage, but also that you belong to Christ.
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. --Ephesians 4:1-2
None of us can do this perfectly, but we can put our hearts and our prayers into doing and saying what builds, rather than in being proven "right."
Friends, my husband and I just celebrated another anniversary of our very long marriage. Trust us, loving each other and hanging in there is a big part of making marriage last. Couldn't think of a better way to express that than in this post, originally written in 2011.