Yesterday my husband and I just celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary (cue the confetti poppers)! As we reflected on all the ups and downs in our marriage we’ve undoubtedly seen the hand of God over us. It sure has looked different than in other marriages, but each couple has their own redemptive story to tell of God’s faithfulness toward flawed humans.
In honor of my anniversary I want to share marital advice we got years ago in our church’s marriage ministry. We hosted a special guest couple who were in their 90’s and who were married for 75 years. Yes, you read that right, married for 75 years, over seven decades being married to the same person!
You can imagine everyone in the room was silent and on the edge of their seat, ready with eager anticipation over all the advice they wanted to share. After a short discussion we finally got to the big question,
"AFTER 75 YEARS OF MARRIAGE WHAT IS THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO MARRIED COUPLES?"
Would they say something along the lines of not going to bed angry, communicating well, talk about finances, or put the other person’s needs before your own.
After a slight pause the husband smiled and culminated the success of his 75-year marriage with two words, “Pay attention!” We all sat waiting for an eloquent elaboration but he only emphasized what he originally said, “Pay attention to your spouse.”
This couple’s 75-year marriage concluded in the encouragement to pay attention to one another, short and sweet! As my husband and I celebrated our eight years together, we reflected on what our marriage has been marked by thus far. Our eight years have been marked by the exhortation to “Keep growing”. I have grown, he has grown, our marriage has grown, and our family has grown from two to five, as we’ve had children.
WE'VE GROWN THROUGH WONDERFUL SEASONS AND WE'VE GROWN THROUGH DIFFICULT ONES.
We’ve enjoyed each other, been head over heels for each other, been frustrated with each other, and annoyed with each other. We’ve agreed on a lot and we’ve disagreed on just as much; but through all of it we’ve grown together. We’ve been, and continue to be, committed to grow in love, unity, forgiveness, grace, selflessness, and in togetherness.
When your marriage is in a season of success and enjoyment, may it grow! May it grow upward, tall and sturdy so it gives shelter to others in need of a good example; and may it grow sweet, ripe fruit that nourishes all who receive from it.
When your marriage is in a season of difficulty and hardship, may it grow! May its roots push through any obstacle and grow downward, deeper into the rich soil of God’s Truth. Sometimes in the hard seasons of marriage we feel like there is no fruit bearing, but there can always be growth!
GROWTH IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT'S VISIBLE AND ABOVE GROUND; LIKE A BABY IN A WOMB OR A SEED IN THE GROUND, SOME OF OUR BEST GROWTH HAPPENS IN THE DARK.
No matter what season, KEEP GROWING! Never let your marriage grow stagnant, old, irrelevant, and unable to give life to those around you in need of it.
Our marriage is currently in a season of root growth. We’re learning to persevere and to grow in grit and grace together. We’re growing in grit as we fight to fulfill the plan of God for our family and marriage. It’s taken us sheer determination and endurance to press forward through relational, health, and emotional obstacles that have come against our marriage, but we’ve seen God fortify and strengthen us to persevere against any form of adversity.
We’re also growing in giving grace to each other during this difficult time of waiting on God. During times of waiting, tension inevitably tags along, and we’ve learned to be quick to show grace and slow to be offended by each other. We’ve learned to show grace in our words and our actions even in the most unmanageable, frustrating days.
IRONICALLY, IT HASN'T BEEN THE SEASONS OF "SUCCESS" THAT HAVE MADE OUR MARRIAGE MORE STABLE; IT'S BEEN ENDURING THE DIFFICULT ONES, THE ONES WE WOULD'VE PREFERRED TO SKIP BUT ARE THANKFUL WE DIDN'T.
Faithfully persevering in the type of seasons that make or break a marriage have made our marriage because we've allowed our roots to grow. God has used our strengthened roots to solidify the foundation we’ve built together, making our marriage stronger than it’s ever been.
As we celebrated our anniversary we renewed our commitment to never stop growing together no matter what season of life we find our marriage in. The roots of our marriage have grown deeper into Christ and into each other and the fruit of our marriage has grown sweeter the longer we persevere. Whether good or bad, we’re committed to “grow through what we go through.”
Whatever season of relationship you find yourself in, whether in marriage, parenting, or friendship, there is always a way for you to grow. If it's not a season of outward and upward growth, be encouraged that, with God, you can grow inward and downward into the nourishing soil of His Truth.