Steve and I just celebrated our 29th anniversary. We’re at that point that when we announce to an audience how long we’ve been married, people applaud. Weird!
The first time the applause started, I was really taken aback. It seemed a bit like congratulating me for getting out of bed…or getting dressed…or eating my breakfast. It wasn’t a big deal; it was just what we did.
Sadly, I’ve begun to realize why people applaud the length of our marriage. The truth is that fewer marriages are making it for the long haul.
In our feelings-driven, choice addicted culture, staying with your original marriage partner is becoming optional, and the road out of the marriage relationship is continually being widened, smoothed, and paved by those who would say that our marriages need not be permanent.
The Word of God would disagree.
In God’s economy, marriage is to be permanent. Permanent in a “’til death do us part” kind of permanent. When we toss aside our permanent covenant marriage relationships we damage not only ourselves, but the cause of Christ as well.
But divorce isn’t the only way to damage the cause of Christ by our marriages. Christian marriages that fall into the “Surviving,” but not “Thriving,” category will also diminish our testimonies and ultimately, bring into question the goodness of God.
So, with God’s glory as our final destination, may I share some habits that I have embraced over these 29 years? Habits that have helped to build up, rather than tear down, my marriage to Steve Scheibner.
These ideas aren’t earth shaking or groundbreaking new revelations. Instead, they are simple ways to build oneness, promote harmony, and frankly, make our marriages more fun.
That’s a big part of why you got married in the first place, wasn’t it? Didn’t you get married because you loved that guy and wanted to ENJOY the rest of your life together? (Not to mention that he was sooooo cute!)
Don’t lose sight of that goal!
29 years ago Steve and I were young, skinny, and hopeful about what the future, and our marriage in particular, would hold. With 14 moves, 8 children, the Navy, the airlines, the pastorate, and now Character Health Corporation under our belts, we find ourselves not so young anymore, not so skinny anymore, but honestly, still just as hopeful about our marital future.
How can that be?
Why are we still so hopeful?
We’re hopeful, because we’ve seen how God can take two very different personalities, two very different sinners, and teach them how to live, love, laugh, and serve together.
Are you hopeful about the future of your marriage? I hope so! If not, my prayer is that these next few blogs will give you some practical ideas, tangible actions, and heart-filling hopefulness for the days and years to come.
Here’s the first tip for the care and maintenance of your marriage:
Pray for your husband!
I can’t stress enough the importance of daily persistent and consistent prayer for your husband.
Notice, I didn’t say prayer ABOUT your husband. I’m not talking about coming to God with a list of all the “positive” changes you think need to happen in your husband’s life. A list that includes the removal of all those annoying habits, quirks, and inconsistencies that makes life so much more difficult…for us.
A “Perfect Husband” wish list that will make our lives just wonderful…
No, prayer for our husband is simply seeking the Lord on his behalf.
It’s asking the Lord to grow our husbands and develop their lives in the way that HE deems best. Praying for God’s highest good in their lives; His best blessings, encouragement, edification, and exhortation; the favorable hand of God on their relationships, responsibilities, and daily realities.
Sometimes, what God wants for my husband is radically different than what I’m so sure that I want. Who am I kidding? Most of the time what God wants for my husband is radically different from what I think I want! I have to remind myself that God’s ways aren’t my ways and that’s a good thing!
Praying for God to have His own way in my husband’s life frees me to trust the sovereign hand of our good God.
I think every spouse experiences up and down cycles in their marriage. There are times when my heart swells as I think of Steve. I can’t imagine there ever being a better, kinder, gentler, more loving husband.
However, there are also times that Steve, our marriage, and life in general, just seem…Blech. You know, boring, humdrum, dull, annoying…just not what I hoped for in my marriage.
When those times come, prayers of thanksgiving for my husband will change and re-mold my attitude. When I discipline myself to begin to list and recite theMANY things about my husband for which I can be thankful, that old heart swelling feeling quickly returns.
As I thank God for Steve’s faithfulness toward me…For his diligence in providing…For his generosity in gift-giving…For his tenderness with my emotions…For his continually optimistic attitude in our times of trials…it is impossible not to overflow with gratitude for our marriage and heart-swelling love for my husband.
Praying for Steve reminds me that he’s not the enemy. It’s very difficult to be angry or bitter towards someone that I’m upholding in prayer. Prayer moves me from adversary to ally and from combatant to co-laborer.
Want your marriage to be sweet? Pray for that man!
In my next, “Care and Maintenance” of our marriage blog, we’ll dig a little deeper into the whole “Sleeping with the enemy” issue. Until then, pray without ceasing! I guarantee you’ll see some sweet results!