You've heard that old Stevie Wonder song, "Signed. Sealed. Delivered. I'm Yours."
Lots of people assume the wedding ceremony is the final step. Now the chase is over, the two are one, everything's settled. No more effort needed.
Changes are as inevitable as mosquitos in summer. Changes in financial situation. Job changes. The arrival of children--or staying childless.
Likes and dislikes. Switching jobs. Moving.
Aging. Parents and in-laws with health problems. On and on it goes.
All this as both marriage partners are growing and changing as individuals.
That's life. For each one of us.
Think of a marriage as somewhat like an ocean liner
It's impossible for the left side of a huge cruise ship to go left while the right side keeps moving straight ahead. Neither can one marriage partner change course without affecting the other.
The old marriage vows said husbands and wives were to leave their father and their mother and "cleave" only each other.
I looked up the word "cleave" and although one definition means to cut, the second definition is just the opposite. Here it is: "to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwavering."
All for one and one for all
In marriage--even good strong marriages--sometimes one feels pulled in one direction while the other is thinking, No way!
Whatever the decision, one of you is reluctant.
My husband and I have lived that a time or two and it's not easy. What helped us get through it was remembering--and gently reminding each other--that we two are one, bonded to each other and determined to stay that way.
From the day we met we both felt God brought us together and we knew from past experiences that we could trust Him. Therefore what was right for one of us must be right for both of us.
Expect to have tension in your relationship
It's the not knowing what comes next that's the killer. This is hard, even when what you're moving to will be better than what you're leaving behind.
It means growing, especially because almost always it seems one will be giving more than the other.
We found we had to keep talking, even when it felt strained and forced. Otherwise the distance between us grew. We also knew we must make every effort to look through each other's eyes as best we could.
Most of all, we prayed hard for a spirit of unity and love between us because if we lost that we would lose what mattered most.
The key is to remember that our Heavenly Father knows the future and He wants only our good. Jeremiah 29:11:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Living out the proof
We know now each time was a season of growing, individually and together. Growing stronger as a married couple. Finding peace within the marriage we promised to stay in.
After all, few worthwhile goals are easy.
My husband and I have learned it's good to look beyond ourselves and keep our eyes on what makes for the good of our marriage relationship.
There's a benefit to our children, too: Stability and providing a strong role model for them and their lives.
When you think about it, that's quite a lot.