Mike & I have been married for 28 and a half years. It’s been an incredibly happy union of two people who are hugely different. Mike, 13 years (and 8 months) older than I, conservative, introvert, perfectionist, hard-working, non-people person. Enter Helga – young (I was 20 when we started dating – he was 34!), risk-taker, experimenter of hopeless business initiatives, extrovert, complete opposite of perfectionist – (whatever that is)…pretty laid back (working on not being lazy!) and a big people person. I was like (in my mind) a crazy, young filly that needed reigning in….I was chomping at the bit, ready to race in any wild direction, filled with mental ideas. Mike was completely dependable. Steady. Steadfast. Feet on the ground. Reliable. He was the ideal trainer for this young horse! No one told him, “she’s young, she’ll need patience, support her ridiculous ideas, let her mature a bit.” He just was patient, got behind me and just let me mature a bit. And I did.
I’ve always claimed that the way to a lasting marriage is when you both put God first, the other second and yourself third. A long marriage is going to mean sacrifice for a man and his bride. I stand by that. But notice that I’ve said, ‘lasting’ marriage and not necessarily happy!
There are so many dynamics going on when it comes to marriage. I absolutely don’t claim to have all the answers.
Many times, I think it is hit and miss when love strikes and lasts.
If all Christians were happily married, I would claim that knowing Jesus is the answer to all good unions, but unfortunately, we are sinners. Jesus remains God and He makes the difference in our lives and relationships – if we let Him. Most times when things start unraveling, it’s because one of us (or both) have taken back control, put our own feelings first, gone outside the Biblical boundaries for marriage and refused to put God first, the other second and ourselves third. Sometimes there is a complete stalemate.
While God hates divorce and it’s not His best option for us, He allows it, never rejects us and loves us unconditionally, regardless of our marital status.
I’ve watched from the sidelines while a number of Christian marriages have crumbled and burned. It’s ugly and depressing. You can’t control people. You can only control your own response to people. You can choose to take offence or you can choose to disregard toxic comments.
Because I am happily married, I know people look at me and shake their heads and say, ‘you just don’t understand!’ They’re right. I don’t.
But what I have seen over the last decade particularly, as I have watched people go through horrible divorces, is this: I’ve seen extremely hurt people, who need God’s love and healing more than ever before. Circumstances may not have turned out the way you expected; the way you dreamed; but there is one thing that remains the same regardless of how much your life disintegrates – God’s love for you does not change.
Here’s what I know for sure:
- Your marital status does not define God’s love for you.
- He wants you to be happy and fulfilled, married or not.
- He wants a relationship with you.
- He wants you to follow Him and do life the way He designed it.
- His guidelines for life are found in the Bible.
This all applies, if you are happily married, if you are unhappily married, if you are single, if you are divorced, if you are gay.
You may feel the world and Christians judge you. The only Person you need to be accountable to is God. Live your life as an open book before Him. Let Him be your moral Guide. See what happens.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
You may feel your marriage is in tatters. This is not permission to get divorced. Do everything in your power to save your marriage, but if you have done everything and nothing has worked and divorce happens, it’s not the end of the road.
God has more for you. When the tough times come, there is a verse that often comes to my mind:
I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me.
Whatever you are going through, God loves you and wants what’s best for you.
Keep the smile going!
Talking of marriage, Aldyth asked me to write a piece for the Beauty for Ashes website – it’s on things I have done that improved my marriage.
God bless you!
In His Grip,
Gratitude Pic…I’ve grown up…
1988 – Mike, Helga & Stacey (aged 1)