February seems to come and go with minimal fanfare, don’t you think? The shortest of months is also fondly referred to as the “month of love” with Valentine’s Day as its shining gem nestled right in the middle. Perhaps it’s a reminder for us to celebrate the fact that we are loved—every one of us, by our Heavenly Father. And perhaps it’s a perfect opportunity to check-in and make time for our marriages—because they matter…
I’ll be honest, I just came home from a blissful week with my man on a tropical beach and still have my head in dreamy date mode—but now that I’m back to snow and stress and winter and work, my marriage needs constant attention. We are talking DAILY effort. Intentional thoughts and words and actions to make “us” thrive.
“A good marriage isn’t something you find; it’s something you make.” Gary L. Thomas
So why bother? Why make the effort to do the work on our marriages in this age of me-first and disposable everything? Why does it even matter?
Friend, we have one God-given life. And I don’t know about you but I want to live it to the fullest measure, enjoy every ounce of it, make a difference in this bruised and battered world, and give all the glory to my Heavenly Father! And while that may sound audacious and unrealistic, one place I know to start is in my marriage with my one person. And here’s why…
1 Corinthians 13 gives us a whole long list of what love is and what love isn’t. Some will jump out at you and others leap off the page right into my lap. Like “it always protects” in verse 7. I love my home, having a safe place of shelter. I loved it when we were raising three kids and I love it now that we are empty nesters. (I may or may not have hermit tendencies.) It’s where I feel protected and I can be me— and I’m able to show hospitality by inviting others in and offering love and kindness there. We get to love on others because ours is a love that strives to be a safe place for one another—we can be ourselves, we protect, and we look out for each other. So really, our marriage matters to every person who walks through my front door.
Verse 4 is another one that pulsates in flashing neon lights for me. Love is patient. I am not. Fortunately, my husband is—but that’s not enough. I need to show patience in return with my own words and actions. Less eye-roll and hurry, more kindness and contentment. How about you? I’m thankful that love is also “large” and in that comes much grace! Our marriages matter today as we treasure the present in the daily routines, as well as in our planning together for the future.
But perhaps the most important “love is not” can be found in verse 5. Love is not SELF-SEEKING. This is a biggie.
I believe once we run our words and thoughts and deeds through a filter of selflessness, love can’t help but rush in.
Selflessness is utterly counter-cultural! Today, we are barraged with messages telling us: we deserve to have our own way, we should always look after number one, marriage doesn’t really have to be ’til death do us part, and we get to practice warped self-care by putting our own needs ahead of anyone else’s. Friend, this is not the way of love. This is not the way to a healthy marriage. It’s hard and it takes monumental effort but with God’s help, we can strive to be selfless in our relationship with our spouse. It took years for the penny to drop with me because I’m a slow learner—and I still crash and burn on the daily. But I promise selflessness matters in our marriages.
“What marriage is for: It is a way for two spiritual friends to help each other on their journey to become the persons God designed them to be.” Timothy J. Keller
And it starts with me. It starts right now in February 2020 as we trade sand for snow post-vacation, and as we celebrate Valentine’s Day for the gazillionth time. As he cheers me on with my latest novel launch. As I help him through his work deadlines. As we recognize our 25th “Canniversary” and look back on emigrating from the UK to Canada together a quarter of a century ago. And then as we have the privilege of hosting our church’s Alpha Marriage Course. It’s quite the month.
“God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.” Psalm 51:10 (MSG)
Can I get an Amen? Calm in the chaos, joy in the journey, meaning in the marriage.
I can’t tell you how marriages work without God in the center because I only know what I know. But what I can tell you is when I’m closer to Jesus, I’m closer to my husband. When I’m seeking to serve my Saviour, serving my spouse becomes easier. A pleasure. And he notices. And reciprocates.
We may have almost 32 years of marriage under our belts but I will never, ever take it for granted. With wisdom from the Word, a much-needed sense of humour, and our very best efforts at selflessness—we will continue to work hard at our marriage. Because it matters to us and it matters to God.
Know you are loved,
P.S. When my daughter got married, I wrote a little book called PEARLS FOR THE BRIDE. It’s full of tips and stories and Biblical encouragement, perfect for the newlywed. But I’m delighted that readers who have been married for many, many years say how much they enjoyed it, too. Feel free to check it out HERE!
Linking up with some fabulous encouragers. Check them out: