What is the most popular month to get married? April? May? June?
How about … October? It’s true. Couples are increasingly migrating away from spring and summer (and, apparently, the challenges of rain and heat) – and moving toward the fall. And we’re now told that the single most popular month to tie the knot is October.
We have 2 weddings in our church sanctuary next month – in a room where even one a month is a lot for us. So, if 2 is a trend, then the stats are right. Brides are increasingly telling their husbands to show up at the altar in October.
As I finished up premarital counseling with one of those 2 couples, I shared with them my “Ten Commandments of Marriage.” These ‘commandments’ aren’t written in stone, at least not in mosaic form. But they are a summary of what I have come to believe is vital for couples to pursue as they pursue life together. So, whether you are getting married in October, or you might someday get married, or you are currently navigating life with a spouse, here are my thoughts on what you need to know:
- Commit to a life time of growing together. Marriage is a decision to journey together no matter where the journey takes you. In a world that is increasingly hedging its bets when it comes to marriage, many believe that saying “I do” is similar to saying “Maybe.” But you can’t build a life on maybe. Marriage is not for the timid; it is for those ready to commit to facing life united with another person. Which leads to #2…
- Be ready for it to be hard. Is anything in life easy? I mean, anything that matters? Whether it’s Calculus or calculating how much you’ll need for retirement, whether it’s building a house or building a life, if you are going to accomplish something meaningful, it’s going to take some meaningful commitment. You simply will not get by in marriage on your feelings. You will not last in marriage if you expect the honeymoon to last. This isn’t to say that marriage is tedious or tiring – though it will be sometimes. It’s simply the recognition that the look of love in your eyes on your October wedding day will one day fade; and some days that look might be one of anger, or frustration, or “What the heck have I gotten myself into?” If you know that going in, you won’t be surprised when it happens. And your first thought won’t be: Well, this is hard, so maybe it’s not going to work out…. Instead, you can think: Wow, this is hard. Guess it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I mean, short of winning the lottery, no one expects something as meaningless as money to come easily; so why would we expect something as meaningful as marriage to be easy?
- Love like Jesus, trust in Jesus, depend on him to guide you. You don’t have to be married to learn this, but marriage is certainly a great teacher: You can’t do life on your own. Each of us (married or single) was made by our Creator to be in relationship with Him. The sooner we learn that, the sooner we can choose to submit to His leadership – and the sooner we can become what He has made us to be. I mean, really – what better way to learn you are flawed then to get married? Nothing cures idolatry better than marriage, for we all live life, at some point, as our own little god. Sooner or later, you find out you’re not. Sooner is preferable. Marriage helps that sooner happen. And when it does, you can then come to realize that the way forward in life is to receive the love of Jesus, and let it teach you and flow through you. If you’re married, to your spouse. If you’re a parent, to your kids. Or if you just simply happen to be human, then Jesus’ love changes how you live and love among other humans. The way to be the husband/wife/parent/human you are called to be? Begin with the love of Jesus, and let it be your guide.
- Work for unity. I guess this flows naturally out of #2 & #3. If marriage is hard, then a married couple needs to realize that they will have to work for unity. And if they trust in Jesus, then they have what they need for that unity to happen. Their unity is not based on what they have in common, but on Who they have in common. A couple can be very different, even as they change over time, but if Jesus is the center of their life, He is then the author of their unity. And He doesn’t change. Again, it’ll take work. But it will not be because a husband and wife agree on a thousand different points, but that they agree on this one truth: Jesus brings us together, and teaches us how to live together.
- Find an older, mentor couple. Find a couple who has traveled the path of marriage longer than you have. Invite them to dinner. Watch how they do life. Learn from them. As the divorce rate increases, it’s going to be increasingly important for younger couples to find older examples. And, it’s going to be especially important that couples who have shared decades together take on the responsibility of encouraging and supporting younger couples. Whatever your age or the length of your marriage, don’t simply make friends with couples in the same situation as you are. Reach across generations to learn from, and share with, those who need to learn from, and teach, you.
Ok, that’s my first five. If God needed 2 tablets, surely I can take 2 blog posts for my Ten Commandments. So, come back next week for my second five.