Since it is Valentine’s Day , it seems only fitting to write about love. Specifically the love between a husband and wife. I have now been married 22+ years. That means I have been married approximately 8030 days. Or 192, 720 hours. And I would be lying to you if I said that I felt love for the guy I am married to all 192, 720 hours–or even all 8030 days. Marriage is a bit of a roller coaster ride, isn’t it? Or maybe it is more like the weather.
Winter has felt long this year. It snowed at the end of December and continued to snow. There has been snow on the ground for a long time. At least for this area of the country. It has been cold, too. Not many, if any, warm, sunny days to remind us that spring is coming again. It felt like winter was going to last forever. But when I got up this morning, I looked out and it felt almost warm. There was a large patch of grass…not just the itty bitty ones I had been seeing.
Even when it felt like winter would last forever and spring would never come, I knew differently. I think perhaps marriage is a lot like that. Just because you don’t feel love doesn’t mean that there isn’t love. We all have moments in our marriages that are like the weather–long, unending spells of indifference like the long winter months or sudden moments of impossible impasse like a summer storm. But, no matter what it feels like, if both parties choose to stay committed to the relationship, the feelings of love will come back around.
I remember when my husband and I were married around 7 years. We came to a sudden and, what seemed impossible, problem. It lasted for months. Our children were affected by it. My mother was worried about us. The funny thing is that I have no recollection of what the specific issue was. I can’t remember at all. I do know this, though: If there was ever a time in our marriage where there was a danger of one of us walking away, that was the time. It was that bad. But I think I can honestly say that neither of us ever even contemplated it. Not because we were so wise to know that things would get better. We were young. My focus was on the dark, gray present time, not some unseen likelihood of sunshine again in the future. We stuck it out because both of us were committed to the marriage.
You see, we had seen marvelous examples of marriage in the lives of our parents. We had seen them go through ups and downs. Both couples had been through some really tough times. But they had stuck it out. They had promised to the Lord and to each other to love and cherish in sickness and in health. In good times and bad. And they stuck by those vows, even when the going got tough.
We feel blessed to have parents who have such a commitment. But there are amazing examples of this everywhere. If you aren’t blessed to have parents who have stuck it out–and, let’s face it- that is probably true for many of you–take a look in your extended family. Or your church family. You will find couples celebrating their 30th, 40th, and 50th anniversaries. Sometimes even more. That is true love. True love sticks around through all types of “weather”. It does not disappear when the going get tough. It is commitment to the partnership above commitment to self.
And, so, while I thank God for the feelings of love–can you imagine life without feelings??–I also thank Him for the tough times that make us work beyond our feelings. The tough times are what yield the strong, sturdy love that can weather any storm and are a blessing and example to those around us.
Here are the typical marriage vows. I thought it might be a good reminder for all of us married people to remember that we said something similar to this one very special day in our past. And that the vows we made are no less true now, than they were then–
I _____, take you ______, to be my wedded husband/wife. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.