About a month ago, my parents celebrated their 30th anniversary. It wasn’t a grand celebration; just a small one with some of their friends and me. Of course, I had to be there. I am, after all, a product of their marriage. And what a marriage it’s been–from picking up the family and transplanting it into another country, to dealing with the ins and outs of the American economy, to injuries at work and two incidences of cancer, to even the deaths of two of their children. It hasn’t been a smooth marriage for my parents, but it’s survived through a lot.
About a couple weeks ago, I met a man who celebrated his sixtieth wedding anniversary. He and his wife have more than ten grandchildren and about 3 great grandchildren. To talk with the man and to see the joy on his face when talking about how he met his wife–there was a spark there that I often see when I talk to men who are madly in love with their wives.
As a young man, I’d like to learn from those that have gone before me. I want to learn from their mistakes and from their triumphs. Of course, I know that no marriage is the same and that each requires a versatile nature to get through anything. You’d be foolish if you don’t want to learn from others who’ve been there before you, who have the experience. After interviewing my parents, the elderly gentleman, and all these other couples I’ve met in my life who have a successful marriage, I keep hearing three things repeated over and over again, and I admit, I still have a simplistic overview of it:
It’s important that both people effectively communicate to each other his and her wants, needs, etc. When one doesn’t do a good job explaining or talking, it can lead to a (drum roll please) miscommunication. And it is miscommunication that leads to fights and arguments. Whatever issues or insecurities the other faces, it’s important that it is communicated and dealt with together.
I think another part of communication is showing humility and meeting the other person where they are. This means that instead of being reactionary, we must take the action of listening–listen to what the other has to say. James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” Listening doesn’t always come as second nature for some people, but it’s an important skill to have, and it’s important in communication.
From all the couples I’ve talked to, they each quote the famous marriage vows. There’s something to be said about being together “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” The moment you say “I do,” you’re making a commitment not only to each other, but to God, and to your witnesses (the people at your wedding). Commitments don’t just end at the wedding ceremony. It continues for the rest of your life. When you start a family and raise kids, you are making a commitment to do the best that you can do and to be the best parents you can be.
I can’t pretend to say how difficult keeping commitments are, but I’m reminded in James 5:12 that my “yes” be yes and my “no” be no. I can’t let my eyes wander when I’m married. I can’t do other things when I know I need to be there for my kids.
A wedding anniversary is a cause for celebration. It means that together, you endured the hardships of life, that you were there for each other, that you were faithful to one another. That is something to be celebrated. And all the couples I talked to had their own version of celebrating, and all of them praised God that they had another year of marriage. The concept of praising God for their marriage intrigued me so much that I reflected on the word praise.
I don’t even know how many times the word “praise” is mentioned in the Bible. In the King James Version, I think it mentions “praise” 248 times. But the word “praise” is a word that doesn’t just mean adoration, there’s also an underlying meaning of thankfulness filled with celebration. In Psalms David praised God for a lot of things God had done in his life. And from talking with the couples I interviewed, it’s important that people celebrate the day of their marriage, remembering to thank God for always being in the picture.
(Image via MinnLawyer)