I love weddings. They are especially fun and exciting when I see kids I have known for many years grow up and find love. :o) Recently I was so honored to be asked to say the blessing at one of my best friend’s daughter’s wedding reception. One of the most special things that has been asked of me in the Back 9. I have been blessed to watch this romance unfold….all the way to the alter. It truly makes my heart leap with joy to see them together. I so desire to see marriages thrive today…to grow and thrive the way God intended marriages to be.

I have been married for 29 years this July and as I look back over my own marriage, there are so many things I have learned. When you marry, you find all the excitement and newness that a marriage can bring. It’s truly “young love!” No matter who you are you can’t get around one fact. If you are a Christian, that “young love” is made up of two imperfect people, two sinners, making a vow before a holy God. When we say those vows, we often only hear “for better” not giving thought to the worse. We hear in health, not so much sickness…and many times…we totally don’t even regard nor comprehend the words, “til death do we part.”

The best insurance for a holy and great marriage is this…that God has to remain first and foremost in each person’s life. Yep, your spouse cannot come before your relationship with Christ. God is a jealous God….even when it comes to your spouse. So understand, in the husband’s life and in the wife’s life, God is first, not each other.

Often…especially today…when the storms come…marriages fail. When the worst comes…love goes out the window!

I think many times marriages fail because the understanding of what marriage is gets skewed by the young love…the “eros” love…the passionate love which consists of the glow of the heart kindled by the perception of the object which affords pleasure.…this kind of love can be fleeting when hardships come. It is the “agape” love which is awakened by a sense of “value” of the object loved. “Value” is key here. This is the love God gives us…that holds marriages together…even in the storms. Knowing Christ, and knowing we are all God’s children, created in His image but yet sinners, we have to keep in mind all the time…the “value” God places on each and everyone of us…thus the value He requires us to put on others…especially our spouse…even in the struggles.

It is God’s value on our spouse and being committed that gives strength to endure and walk through the struggles life can allow.

And in case you are young and reading this post, understand, all marriages will encounter struggles. I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer here but this is why I am a huge advocate for pre-marriage counseling. I would recommend 6 to 10 weeks of marriage counseling that includes homework. Doing the work to uncover and unmask the things that come up when the “honeymoon” is over. Looking at finances, the desire to have children and views on raising them, the values the man/woman grew up with, how they were raised, etc.

Why? Because the world is projecting the wrong picture of marriage.

Andy Stanley has said it best…there is no dysfunction in marriage. Individuals bring their “dysfunction” to the marriage. It is best to recognize and deal with it before you get married.

I encourage young love to be proactive. Look at the potential “splinters” that can surface when two different people come together in marriage. People raised in different homes and in different circumstances. Both will look at life, commitment, marriage through two different sets of “glasses”. Having their eyes “fitted” with new glasses with a Christian counselor before marriage is a proactive way for them to see clearly the “map for matrimony” that can avoid dividing consequences! In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we find, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

When you marry, the “temptation” to bail when times become difficult (which is common to mankind) can be great. Part of the “way out” described in Corinthians is in being proactive. Taking a look at the “temptations” that are common and taking measures to counteract them before the matrimony. Yes, you learn and grow together when you get married, but God didn’t intend for the “blind to lead the blind” either. Young lovers simply don’t know what they don’t know and haven’t experienced. Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Some of my dearest friends who have endured divorce would not wish their circumstances and the path they have traveled on anyone. They especially want to give their kids the best chance of finding love and a marriage that lasts. One that doesn’t end in divorce. Even though counseling may not have prevented some of the divorces, they all strongly encourage taking the steps to explore and take an educated look at the “potential divides” and work for solutions and healing before the “I do’s!”

I like to insert the word “marriage” in the following scripture found in Proverbs 11:14. “For lack of guidance a [marriage] falls, but victory is won through many advisors.” Remember this verse as well. Matthew 4:10, “Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” A husband and wife are partners. We were never created to “worship” each other. It can be a slippery slope especially for the young and newly in love. Always keep Christ as your first love. It is the right and true priority and the “Super Glue” for all marriages!

Psalm 29:2, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”
Ephesians 5:33, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

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