Eventually, every good marriage hits a rough patch. In your marriage vows, you promised to love regardless of all the changes and adversities, regardless of the good times or the bad times, and regardless of whether you live in wealth or poverty. I heard someone comment that instead of going into a marriage vowing, “till death do us part,” maybe brides and grooms should be asked, “Do you have any idea how difficult this is going to be?”
A great marriage embodies a love of commitment, endurance, and perseverance. Not particularly romantic, is it? However, a relationship solely based on romance and emotions has an average life span of about two years. You have to have something more to make it last a lifetime.
The something more is an enduring love, which is the ability to stick with the relationship through the changing seasons of life — “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part.” The Apostle Paul described this enduring love in the famous “love chapter” of the Bible.
When you look closely at these verses, you can learn several things about this holy kind of love:
An enduring love chooses to keep on loving when loving your spouse is not particularly satisfying. It’s easy to love someone who is good to you, shows kindness daily, and responds to your loving words or actions with the same love. We love them because of what they do. Gary Thomas confronts this style of loving with this challenge.
What a refreshing concept in our self-centered culture! When we love each other anyway, we are modeling God’s love — an enduring love — in our marriages. He loves us even when we ignore him and take for granted his boundless grace and mercy. He doesn’t like it, but he continues to love us. To love anyway is to love like God. You keep reaching out to honor your spouse, trusting God to provide for your own needs.
In 1953, a fledgling company called Rocket Chemical Company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry. It took them 40 attempts to get the water displacing formula worked out. However, they must have been really good, because the original secret formula for WD-40, which stands for Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try, is still in use today.
Unlike these scientists and engineers, people quit too soon in many pursuits — jobs, school, and faith. Why? Often it’s harder than they expected. It happens in marriage, too. They thought it would be easy. When it got hard, they bailed out. Any man and woman can get married. The tricky part is joyfully making it last a lifetime.
This is where it helps to have an enduring love in your marital tool bag. A great marriage takes time to build, as well as a tremendous effort to keep it in good shape. Working together, you can rise above the problems in your relationship and find the strength to keep trying, all because of your intense commitment to your marriage.
Adapted from Tools For a Great Marriage. Copyright © 2008 William Batson.
All rights reserved. Used with permission. Read more from William Batson at Family Builders Ministries