Abby Shields Dear Friend,

My son in law recently spoke at a wedding and briefly shared a few words of counsel that had  helped him along in his marriage over the past couple of years. The first and lighter of these  wisdoms was his message to the groom where he shared with him a simple phrase that would  help extinguish most “fires” in the relationship, and that was, “Sorry dear, I wasn’t thinking.”  While this brought chuckles from all the married couples in the room, perhaps from the strand of  truth in the statement, the second piece of wisdom held a bit more profound truth to ponder which  naturally got me thinking about all of the couples that come to the ministry for marriage  counseling.

Cary heard this piece of counsel from a gentleman who had been married for 45 years. When  asked what he thought the key to the longevity of his marriage was he replied, “It’s not about the ‘I Do’ you say on your wedding day, but all the ‘I Do’s’ you say every day after.” In other words, the commitment to your spouse you make before God is not a one time thing, but rather the way you live out that commitment through the good, the bad, and the ugly of marriage.

This seems like it would be a pretty straight forward and obvious truth, but as a counselor that deals with a lot of broken marriages, it makes me wonder why this truth becomes so difficult to carry out, even in Christian marriages. It has been my experience that the root of most marital problems boils down to two words, “unmet expectations”. Weather we realize it or not, we all walk into relationships with expectations about marriage and our spouse. Inevitably, at some point expectations go unmet and when they do, our wedding day commitment and declaration of “I’ll love you no matter what,” over time slowly morphs into, “I’ll love you if…”

As it always does, the Word of God provides us with truth to steer us back to life and restoration in our marriages, and it is found in 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul describes the characteristics of love. There are many great descriptors of love in this passage but the one that I believe pertains to the topic at hand is the truth that love is not SELF-SEEKING. The enemy is so crafty at shifting our gaze toward all of our marital unmet expectations and all of the things our spouse does wrong, that we forget that the picture of the covenant of marriage is like that of Christ; one of complete giving and sacrifice of self for the betterment of the other despite what they can give in return. That is the beauty of Christ and that is the beauty of marriage.

No matter how long you’ve been married or regardless of the health of your relationship, I believe it would serve all of our marriages well to remember that life is found when we die to ourselves and beauty is found in sacrifice. May we all be couples that stand against the lie of Satan that insists that love is self seeking and say the daily “I do” to our spouse through our words and actions.

Thank you to all of you from the bottom of my hear to all of you who have generously supported our efforts with financial gifts and prayer as we continue to spread the message of hope. Your continued support is greatly needed as demands on our resources grow. May God bless you.

In His Grip,