There is no blueprint to guarantee a happy life 24- hours a day. It doesn’t exist because life does not work that way. “Happily ever after” does not take a golden road to a large castle and live in a land of wine and roses daily. As I celebrate my 20-year wedding anniversary my best friend asked me, “How does it feel to be married 20-years?” At times it feels like it was only yesterday. Other times it feels like 50 years. One thing I know to be true is there are 3 C’s of marriage that will get you to 20 and beyond: Christ, commitment, and compromise.
Christ: The night before our wedding we gathered with our wedding court. We prayed and worshipped the Lord. We asked Christ to make our marriage one of three people and not just two. Christ says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) Christ was present in that Gatlinburg chalet where we were gathered. He was also present when we asked him to be amid our marriage and to be part of it every day.
Commitment: It may sound simple and obvious to say you must have commitment, but it appears that our society has lost a sense of commitment. We quit a job when it’s not fun anymore or we don’t like our boss. We “ghost” people we call “friends” because we disagree about something. We quit a marriage when we find something more appealing (or someone) or it isn’t exclusively focused on us and making us “happy”. We are a selfish society that encourages quitting and discourages commitment. Our society says we need to put ourselves first and own our desires, others are the ones wrong, and we know what’s right. The Lord says we are to place the needs of others above our own and to love others as we love ourselves. He never said it would be easy. Our last 20 years have certainly not been easy, but our adherence to the commitment we made to each other has pushed us through the hard times when we wanted to walk away and has encouraged us during the times of celebration.
Commitment is not only to stay in the marriage, but to remain devoted and true to that person. It is a commitment to not choose another over your spouse. It is a commitment and dedication to circumstances and situations that will lead you to adultery and sin. It’s a life of only looking one way and rejecting looking to another.
Compromise: Our society tells us that you can “have it your way.” Many will say that marriage is 50/50. Neither of these are true for lasting marriages. Marriage is a consistent compromise. You can’t always have it your way. You must be willing to allow the other’s voice and desires to be heard and valued. Narcissistic behavior is crippling to the necessary aspects of a marriage. Partnership is the key to success and compromise is the core of partnership.
Marriage is rarely 50/50. One day it may be where you must give 100% because your spouse is unable to give anything to the marriage (or unwilling). Another day you may only have to give 30% and your spouse picks you up with the remaining 70%. Social media causes us to live in a “look at me” mindset where everything is about making us “happy” or bending to our will and desires.
Satan wants to rip marriages and families apart and our culture provides him unlimited avenues to utilize. He entices us with the lure of “something” or “someone” better. He tells us we have a right to be “happy” and if our spouse is not making us “happy” every day then we should be looking for something else. He convinces us that a “happy” and successful marriage is one where your spouse cooks dinner for you, serves it by candlelight every day and you come home to a bed full of roses and wine. It’s just not real life. Social media and the internet have skewed our perception of real life and, as a result, altered our approach to marriage.
Our marriage has been a combination of celebration, good, bad, fights, love, loss, anger, hardship, and joy. (and everything in between). In the end, it has been these three 3’s which have worked together to enable us to stand here at 20 years and prove that doing marriage God’s way, as opposed to the world’s way, works.