“I, Beth, take you Dan, to be my husband, to have and behold from this day on, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”
Looking back, twenty-five years ago as I stood at the altar and declared my vows to my soon to be husband, I must admit I was a bit naive…
…for better or for worse
…for richer or poorer
…in sickness and health
Sure I meant every word but honestly I really did not think that much of the “worse, poorer or sickness” would come our way. I lived in youthful blissful ignorance that we would sail through life, with the Lord on our side, never really having to experience much in the way of hardship. Call it positive thinking, denial or innocence of youth….any way you look at it we were certainly not prepared for a life that included sickness, poverty or “worse” case scenarios. And yet our 25 years have included many such hardships that could have rocked our world, damaged or even destroyed our relationship.
While we realize, by the grace of God, we have not had to walk through some of the truly tragic or extremely unbearable things that could have come or way (and now that we are older and wiser we are well aware still could be in our future, God forbid) — we have not experienced the devastating loss of a precious child, life controlling addictions, infertility, total financial destitution, loss of all our material possessions through fire or flood, physical or mental incapacitation, depression or mental health sinkholes, physical separation for years on end, infidelity or trouble with the law — but we have experienced many “worse, poorer and sicker” times over these past 25 years:
- our closest and dearest friends who forsook their own wedding vows early in our marriage, leaving us shaken, uncertain and even fearful that a marriage, even between believers, could not go the distance
- debilitating sickness for each and every pregnancy (yes I literally threw up…and subsequently Dan cleaned up for over 1,800 days or 5 years of our married life) which led to much dependence on others, bed rest and even depression
- ultimate betrayal by people we trusted with everything who turned their backs on us and tried to destroy our lives
- having a child be diagnosed with a life long disease that ultimately affects everything in her life and living daily with the knowledge that this could cut her time here short
- the death of a beloved parent and the grief that grips and consumes you during a season of life
- walking through the ugliness, shock, disbelief and financial devastation of being fired from a job that you poured your heart and soul into for over a decade for refusing to mislead others through deception
- sitting in the ER while the doctor tells you that you are “very lucky” that your child is alive after a forseeable avoidable accident
- ridicule, unkind and hurtful words spoken to us often by others both friends and family members as well as strangers for our choices concerning our family size, our lack of financial resources and our decision to stay in full-time ministry to youth despite the lack of a livable wage, benefits or retirement
- standing in a hospital while the doctor shakes their head and declares your baby girl a “treatment failure” and says that she may not pull through this massive staph infection…and a few years later walking through the same scenario yet again with another child.
- and living much of our married lives in the “for poorer” column…with no financial security, where the money more often runs out before the month does and dealing with the daily stress that the lack of finances can put on a marriage
Yes, we have had our moments of major hardships as well as the daily disturbances that come when two people live together with opposite personalities, different strengths and weaknesses, opinions and of course the basic tendency towards selfishness that we all have living beneath our soul.
All of these things have put great strain on many a marriage leading to unhappiness, discouragement and discontent. These hardships have also been the primary cause for far too many divorces. I think everyone would agree that the dissolution of a marriage that started out with so much hope and promises to love, honor and cherish “til death do us part” is sad, disconcerting and simply tragic for all who have to live with the consequences of divorce. We would all like to see the fairytale ending of “they lived happily ever after” for ourselves and everyone around us.
Having reached a major milestone in our marriage of 25 years (after some research I have discovered that over 43% of my peers who were married in the 80’s have since divorced), many people exclaim…”What an accomplishment!” or ask with great interest…”Wow, how did you do it?”
Well let me tell you that, while it has helped to have some really strong foundations that statistically predicted a life long marriage like these listed here, they were not enough:
- We got married in our mid 20’s (I was 24, Dan was 26) and were college educated (both things that appear to contribute to a much lower chance of divorce)
- We shared a common faith and were regular church attenders (it is true there is a lower divorce rate among couples who attend services weekly)
- We both had parents who were in life long committed marriages (Dan’s parents just celebrated 55 years and my parents were married 35 years before my Dad’s untimely death)
- We had a solid, non romantic friendship for many years prior to committing to an exclusive relationship. This friendship was based on common interests, enjoying conversation and companionship, shared friendships and similar goals
- We did not live together (or for that matter be intimate) prior to marriage (it is a fact that couples who co-habitate prior to marriage have a higher probability of being divorced…makes you scratch your head and wonder why so many do this?)
And I would love to be able to say our commitment to a life long marriage and our ability to overcome the pitfalls that many succumb to is because we were so crazy in love with one another ’round the clock, day in and day out, year after year or that we somehow found a “mystical magical” soul mate that so many people believe is the key to a succesful marriage. And wouldn’t it be great to be married to someone who met your every need (without you even asking), was never cross, angry, mean or tired and better yet was a physical specimen, a beauty who made your heart melt every time you laid eyes on them?
But in reality, while I am the first to admit that I got a really “sweet deal” on one amazing godly husband 25 years ago – who to this day is my very best friend, my beloved and still the one who makes heart melt – even that is not what has made our marriage go the distance nor is it what will make it last the next 25 years.
Here is the bottom line truth. It is because we both love Jesus, first and foremost in our lives! We have both committed to love Him….no matter what. No matter what hardship we might experience in this life, no matter what tragedy, no matter if we lose everything or if the whole world falls apart around us…we will not forsake our Lord Jesus Christ who loves us with a perfect, unconditional, no strings attached love that manifested itself in giving up His very own life for our eternal salvation! And because of that promise to love and stay committed to the Lord…our marriage will last a lifetime and the love we have for Jesus will spill over to one another and bring us great joy and fulfillment in life.
If you are in a marriage that is struggling to make it right now…I would greatly encourage you to fall in love and commit to serving Jesus first and foremost while praying that your spouse would do the same. Do not give up! Do not quit! You will reap amazing blessings if you stay the course. And while you are waiting for the miracle in your marriage allow Jesus to meet all of your needs for love and compionship. Jesus is enough!
If you are a single young person…make your relationship with the Lord the number one priority in your life, seek Him with all of your heart and develop a “no matter what” commitment to Him. Jesus is enough! And if He chooses to make you one in marriage with another believer you will be blessed beyond all you can imagine with the fulfillment of a Christlike marriage. And if He chooses to have you remain single for a season or a lifetime….He is enough!
If you are married and “making it”…be diligent to always keep Jesus at the center of your relationship…pray together often, encourage one another in the Word, be faithful to your local church. As my dear friend and minister Donnie Moore shared at our 25th anniversary celebration service…”Your spouse was made to compliment you, not complete you. Only the Lord can complete you”. Let Him be your completion in this life and in your marriage. Jesus is enough!
As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we would love to pray for any of you – those in a season of singleness who want Jesus to be everything, those in marriages that are in crisis and need a miracle, or those who perhaps have strong marriages but want Jesus to be a greater presence in their lives. Drop us a note, message or comment and you can count on our prayers!
14 responses to “Love for a Lifetime”
I think we need to be more honest with our children and explain the ebb and flow of a long term commitment. It will not always be picture perfect and that’s okay. I have a lot to say on this subject (surprisingly). This is a great message!
Congratulations Beth, to you & Dan!
Beth, you are such an inspiration – you have no idea. You are so right about when we exchange vows, we say them, we mean every word of them and then life happens. Without faith in God and trust & respect in each other, there is no marriage.
I remember one day (not too long after my hubby & I were married), laying in bed and giggling about getting older and what things will be like – I told him he’d need to stick around because the fun is just beginning! Just yesterday I told a co-worker that my husband is still in “training after 28 years” and my parents joke that they are still training each other after almost 64 years. I feel very blessed to have my parents model what marriage can be when you live a God filled life and trust Him…not an easy task.
Thanks for sharing Beth and Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Thanks so much….I believe the Holy Spirit lead me to find this article because my marriage is really on the rocks right now even though we are a believers. We have forgotten the scriptures and have allowed selfishness to rule. I especially like what you said about “And while you are waiting for the miracle in your marriage allow Jesus to meet all of your needs for love and compionship. Jesus is enough!” I really needed that because it is so true. I am waiting on a miracle in my marriage but in the meantime, my heart is sooo sad, I am depressed (crying every day), I sleep is a separate bedroom, and I feel like my husband has no love for me whatsoever. We have been married 12 years. So from now, I will allow Jesus to be the love of my life until the love in my marriage is restored!
I feel for you because I am going through similar circumstances like yours, maybe worst.When I prayed for GOD to show me why I am going through this as advised by a godly friend, the Holy Spirit told me to read the book of James. I feel comforted.I realised the saints around the world are also going through trials though in different forms ; I have to be slow to speak and quick to listen to my husband and submit to him(husband) as unto GOD and resist the devil ( who uses evil thoughts and suggestions to attack my mind) and the devil will have to flee from my marriage. I have to declare verbally, repeatedly and believe undoubtingly that GOD has join me and my husband together and no one can separate us because my GOD is a great and awesome GOD and He is greater than our enemy,the devil. When I asked my pastor for help she said she cannot advised me more because she has never been through this before which made me realise that this kind of trial happened to my marriage so that I could use my experiences to help those in painful,heartbreaking and seemingly hopeless marriages.Without pointing fingers at who was in the wrong,we have to lay down our lives for our husbands. We have to die to self. We have to pray him ( husband) and believe and after that don’t speak anything to the contrary. It’s working for me. Try this, humble yourself and pray ; learn from Jesus ,be humble and gentle in spirit and your yolk won’t be heavy. Talk to God in Jesus’ name . Ask Jesus to intercede for you. He is seated at the right hand side of GOD interceding for the saints. I was about to throw in the towel too but God used a little booklet called ‘Our Daily Bread ‘ to encourage me that when we can’t bring life to these seemingly impossible situations, GOD can.
The bible is the manual book for Christians for living a godly life. When we encounter problems we have to look for solutions to fix the problems from the bible. I also realise that I have neglected to read the bible everyday. Jesus said ,”Man shall not live by bread alone but by the Word of GOD .” That ‘s why when I don’t take in spiritual food, I am weak and when testing and trials came I failed.I have to take the test again.But when we passed the test we will be transformed from glory to glory.
Jesus said if you love me obey my commandments. We have to start doing that. We have to love our enemies ( our enemies are sometimes members of our household) . We have to speak to those who wouldn’t speak to us. Speak to your husband first, I did that too, otherwise we are no different than the pagans who love those who love them and speak to those who speak to them.Be humble and gentle and it will be easy. Cast your cares upon Jesus , ask him to help you.
I have just ‘ celebrated’ our 28th wedding anniversary.
Hope this encourage you.
Love in Jesus’ name,
Congratulations Dan and Beth!!!! Being married for 25 years is a looong time. I wish you both well 🙂
Great message Beth. I think most people do give up when life starts to get rough, but that is when you need eachother (and Jesus) even more. We say in our home “divorce is not an option”. Praying for our children today that they will find spouses that are fully commited to Jesus and marriage.
it’s only been four and a half years for Angelique and i, but it’s been long enough to rid us of any delusion that life would be smooth sailing (people who think sailing is always going to be smooth probably haven’t ever been on a boat) and sunny days all the time… but it’s when we have to push/drive the car out of a 3-foot snowdrift that we really learn to communicate, work together, and consider each other’s situation… it has been such a blessing to have had parents ( i think November was their 40th) that chose to make it work, because in the long run, it’s going to come to a point where it’s going to take more than just love and you’re going to have to just CHOOSE to keep making it work…… them and you and so many other families that we knew from my younger days (many of them you know) set so many great examples of how to make that choice and how to do it gracefully…
I too feel like the Holy Spirit led me here to your site. Everytime I make plans to go file for divorce I find articles, a sermon, a friends call, etc. that move me from that direction. We have been married 34 years and due to infidelity recently have really been struggling to keep things together. We have been separated for 4 months now. We desparately need prayer. We have always said that divorce was not an option but I thought our relationships we both had with God would not have allowed adultery enter in either. We are going to counseling now and are still in the same church we have attended for 25 years. Thank you for your transparency and for reaching out to offer hope once more.
Dear, this is Balan from India, I love your message of giving 1st preference to Lord Jesus Christ in our life. I am believer but my wife is not. Its 16 years plus of our marriage. Now I dont have good married relationship with my wife Priya, whom I still love a lot. Though we are staying together, she doesn’t like me and talk to me. But I faithfully believe in my Lord Jesus Christ that He will reunite us amazingly and bless her to be a believer. Also bless us together to severe the Kingdom of God. Please pray for a happy married life along with our 2 children Son Kartik & Daughter Lipika.
i say you made it work, Ur accomplishment was incredible, i feel it is a long and hard process for my marriage to go through that long. i like what you did but i don,t have the courage to say i have the strength to stand until my marriage work out. Please pray for me if i could get one second chance.
I love this post. Your honesty about the difficulties you have faced make my heart break for you and causes my spirit to rejoice that you have overcome. You’re not without scars from your experiences, I’m sure, but your posts are so full of His grace and love. What a lovely testimony to what He can do with a life surrendered to Jesus.
My husband and I married in our mid 20s and by the grace of God, we are still happily married after 21 years. Aside from the similarities in our age at marriage we did just about everything differently from you. We didn’t meet Jesus until we were 30. I don’t know if our marriage would have survied if we hadn’t fallen hard for Him. Me first. My husband a few years later.
I envy your large, beautiful family. Had my husband and I known Jesus earlier in our lives, perhaps we would have started a family sooner than we did. We are so thankful that we have our two. I wonder what a bigger family would have been like. But we don’t like to live with “should haves”.
Reading about your large family, especially your post about how you homeschool, makes me happy. Your blog is a peaceful place.
What a beautiful message that is very timely for me. I have been married for 6 years. As soon as we married, my husband, who was a recovering addict relapsed. His illness has been with us for 6 years. Several months ago he began getting help in a program but things are still not good. don’t know if he will ever overcome his addictions. If he doesn’t I do want to leave. Jesus is telling me today to have humility and patience. I am trying hard to be obedient to God. I cannot control my husband but I can control myself. Prayers are appreciated. I do not want my family to be torn apart.
Beautiful story. I searched Love Dare and found your recent blog and it directed me back to this one. My husband and I are completing the 40 day love dare at this time. We are the parents to one little boy and another baby on the way. We “lost” each other after our son was born and after 4 years have gotten to the place we were meant to be. We are taking the steps to make sure we dont “lose” each other again after this baby. Thank you for sharing your story.
This is awesome, May the Lord continue to bless you with more wisdom because you are a great inspiration to many both married and singles.