I am not new to marriage. My husband and I are somewhere on the path between start and finish in life and love. I’m glad I am not who I was when we were first united, and I am glad the LORD is not finished blessing us with days together. But we don’t really know this, do we?
Recently, I have been reflecting on a devotion written by Jim Daly from Focus on the Family. It was a seven-day study app entitled “Marriage: A Lifelong Journey.” The following is a paragraph I feel compelled to share with you:
“A strong marriage impacts a family for generations. It’s an identity, a sense of belonging in a world full of strangers. But for a marriage to endure, you need thoughtful caretakers. When cracks appear in the relationship, or the paint peels, the answer is not to level it and start over. It’s to give it the loving care it deserves to restore it back to health. Because when a marriage ends in divorce, it’s like an old house with all of its history being torn down. If your relationship is showing signs of wear, apply Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:32 — Kindness and a tender heart, and forgiveness can go a long way to restoring a marriage.”
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
When an acquaintance of mine watched her marriage end in divorce, she left her home in the care of others to join her missionary son and his family for some years. When she returned, her home was in ruin and her ex-husband was completely unresponsive to her communication attempts. She spends her days working over-time to raise enough money to repair and restore this house alone now, and on more than one occasion I have prayed with her that the LORD would open communication up between her and her ex. Here’s what I believe I can glean from her story. Stay vigilant and involved, and don’t expect someone who just wants to use your home to care enough to fix all that’s wrong with it while you are absent.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time we go to the altar of marriage feeling like the journey is over and the happily ever after has begun. The reality is that the journey has just begun. The foundation of the home has just been laid. In those initial years of marriage, the couple is building their relationship, their home, and they add to it as their time together accumulates. I have watched in grief as some of my friends have opened their marriages, the foundations of their families, to other influences such as drugs and alcohol, gambling, work, and hobbies. There have been some who’ve given themselves to other people, to images of other people, to thoughts of other people. Some of my friends have become uninvolved in their marriage because their house was built, but as the rooms emptied as their children matured and moved out, things they had put off repairing were exposed, and one or both of them gave up. They just didn’t have the interest to care and be involved in restoring their marriage anymore. Yes, it takes more than one to repair a marriage, but one person can choose to be the catalyst for making vigilant home repairs before it falls to disrepair. Home repair tends to be viral when done with the right heart – with creative kindness, forgiveness, and patience.
I took a closer look at my marriage. My husband and I can grow weary so easily sometimes. We allow ourselves to become so busy that we slip into survival mode or automatic pilot. I began moving things around and noticing what repairs needed to be made, and instead of nagging him to work on things with me, or growing angry that he didn’t seem to want to discuss them, I looked at what repairs I could make right now on my own. I thought about things I did for my husband eighteen years ago – things I learned brought out a happy husband response when we were newly wedded.
I chose to break away from my usual routine and joined him as he was preparing to leave for work this morning. I slipped up behind him where he sat tying his shoes on the stairs, and I snuggled up to him like I used to. His chuckle was young-sounding and very nonweary for a non-morning person. I thanked him for being a man of integrity and providing not only for our needs but also a good example for our children. He gave me a manly blush and kissed me. Then I expressed some concern that his coat and tee may be too thin to protect him from the morning’s -20°F temperature and -38°F windchill. His response was, “With a send off like this, I’ll be plenty warm all day.” Yeah, he also reminded me that his office is less than a mile down the road, but when he kissed me again, the twinkle in his eyes and the way he looked at me, certainly put a new shine on my outlook for the day.
LORD, from the beginning, your plan has been perfect. You said it was not good for man to be alone and You created a helper for him from his own rib – a woman – who would be one flesh with him, close to his heart, and protected at his side. I ask you to take your rightful place in our marriages. May You be made the head of our homes, the core of our desires, and the blessing of each moment together. Thank you for the man you have united me with. Thank you for each day you have blessed us with and the children you have placed in our care. Thank you for your provisions and the work you have given us to put our talents and gifts to work in. I lay our marriage and home at the foot of your holy throne to rule over and protect. It is yours. Amen.