A number of times over the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of getting to talk with our new mom’s groups about marriage. The funny thing is, the class is rarely held in the same room within the church. So inevitably, I have to ask someone, “Where is the new mom’s class meeting this morning?” The looks I have gotten in return are pretty funny. After almost 25 years of marriage, I guess I am not looking so much like a new mom!
I think the thing I am realizing as I get older is that life really is about transitions. It seems as soon as we get comfortable and confident in a situation or season, God stretches us in a next change or transition. So, while life changes, people change, circumstances change…marriages, in contrast, and by God’s plan, are supposed to remain.
Author Tim Keller talks about how marriage was created by God, and that because of this—because it was instituted by God—it has power to literally set the course of your life. “If your marriage is strong, even if all of the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won’t matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength. However, if your marriage is weak, even if all of the circumstances in your life around you are marked by success and strength, it won’t matter. You will move out into the world in weakness.” There is a power to marriage. Don’t underestimate it. Prioritize this relationship above all others, including your relationship with your children.
Before we had our first baby, I read. I crafted that last sentence carefully, because sleep deprivation and life happened, and reading really stopped for quite a while! But one line from a “how to raise your baby book” that has stayed with me over 21 years now said, “Your baby is a welcome addition to your marriage.” Your children will come into your marriage and believe it or not, they will actually leave one day. Keller reminds us that God put a husband and a wife in the Garden, not a mom and a dad. Our identity as wife and husband does not change when we become a mom and a dad. We are first a wife and a husband and then, a mom and a dad. Instagram will tell you this is not true. Our culture will tell you this is not true. I can tell you that I have now sent two young adults off to college to start their own lives. One day, your children leave your home. It really is the healthiest option—I’ve explored the others. Your marriage remains.
I believe one of the biggest gifts you can give your children is a strong marriage. Take time to talk. Make your kids give you time to talk. Go out together, even if you’re having to peel your young children off of your neck to get out the door. Talk through hard issues. Have fun together. Your kids will be okay without you, and will be stronger in the end. They might even learn to depend on the Lord in the process.
Marriage is all about communication. Keller talks about how our words spoken to our spouse are heard louder than anyone else’s. Weigh your words, remembering they have the power to encourage and discourage. Your words can really become your spouse’s reality. My neighbor writes quotes on the sidewalk in sidewalk chalk to encourage her family and her neighbors. One a couple of weeks ago said, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Recognize that your words, more than anyone else’s, can salve or sting.
As we approach Valentine’s, with all of its focus on the best parts of romance and relationships, I have found that the sweetest part of marriage honestly is on the other side of the deep valleys. Our culture says valleys are to be avoided. Friends and endless social media streams tell you that you deserve happiness. But, life is not without valleys and challenges. And when you realize that there is a person in this world that loves you through things that seems un-loveable, so ugly or so difficult; that there is someone that has walked down a really treacherous road with you—a road that you were sure you would have to go alone—when you get to other side of a valley like that, that is the most romantic place I’ve seen in 25 years.
Liz and Lane have been married for 25 years and have 3 children, Ashley, Lauren & Cole. They love college sports, cycling, running and spending time as a family.