For Keeps

This weekend, Caleb's grandparents celebrated their 60th anniversary. SIXTY YEARS, PEOPLE!!! What an inspiration to all of us married folk, right? Well, seeing these two love birds together inspired me to write down some words that have been brewing in my heart for quite a while. At my age and in my business, I am surrounded by young people getting married all over the place. I want to celebrate with them, encourage them, and warn them all at the same time. And I know that my husband and I have only been married for five years (only, haha), but there are some truths that I have learned through experience and through God's word that I would like to share with all you married folks out there. 

 Happy 60th Anniversary to Grandma and Grandpa Rue! 

Happy 60th Anniversary to Grandma and Grandpa Rue! 

Those of you who know me know that I am a lover of love, a hopeless romantic. I make no apologies for that. It is just SO fitting that I am a wedding photographer, and I will admit that I may have cried a few happy tears at many a wedding (especially when the bride and groom exchange their own handwritten vows *sigh*) The way I see it, romantic love is one of the most precious gifts from God that we can experience on this earth. It is a symbol of Christ's love for His bride, just a taste of His overwhelming passion for His church. Now, that makes me swoon. 

That same spirit that causes me to fiercely love love is that which also breaks my heart. When I watch a couple at the altar, I often think about the sad fact that nearly fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.  We vow at the altar before God and witnesses, "To have and to hold from this day forward, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part." We vow to God. Maybe we should change those vows, "To have and to hold whenever it's convenient, for richer and richer, in health and wellness, until we fall out of love or find someone more suitable."  

These days we have "No fault" divorces----the couple has "irreconcilable differences," aka, they have "fallen out of love." I would just like to say to those of you in all walks of your marriage, remember your vows! Marriage is a challenge---it's two people with two minds and two different backgrounds living as one. Of course it's going to be tough. Because contrary to romantic movies and love stories that we have been bombarded with from childhood (Disney princesses, anyone?), not everything is going to be roses after you find your "true love." No, after marriage, you are going to realize that your true love doesn't change the toilet paper roll when it runs out, that they chew their fingernails, that they don't know what a budget looks like, or that their standard of "clean" is completely different than your OCD sterilized-surgery-room standard. That's what two people living together looks like FOR EVERYONE. But you know what? Anything that is worth anything is worth fighting for. (Did that make sense to anybody?) And when you work at something and learn from your mistakes, it gets easier and easier. The best really is yet to come---but only if you stick to it.

The Bible says, "Love never fails." Love is not something that you fall into or fall out of. Love is a choice. Some days, it's a hard choice and some days it's the easiest choice in the world. And there is nothing so revealing of our selfish nature than marriage. When we were single, for the most part, we got to do what we wanted to do. There wasn't a daily challenge to lay down our wants, desires, and simple preferences for someone else's. Have you ever thought that your spouse brings out the worse in you? Hate to say it, but that sin that is rearing it's ugly head was already in your heart. (John 16:22. Nobody can steal your joy!) Your spouse is the iron that sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). So next time your husband or wife makes you feel like shouting in anger or saying something hurtful, maybe you can repent of those thoughts before acting upon them and thank your spouse for revealing your true heart (good luck with that part!) 

There may be some reading this, you newlyweds who just know you have found your "soul mate," or maybe you are the couple that is so proud that you haven't had a single argument yet. I want to remind you of a guy named Solomon---you know, the author of "The Song of Songs," the most romantic book ever penned. He and his Shula-mite girl had it going on. So in love! And they did everything right---from their courtship to their marriage. They stayed pure for each other, and they put God first in their relationship. When a situation arose, they carefully and quickly worked things out, seeking forgiveness, dealing with the problem, and learning from their mistakes. They gave each other gifts just to say "I love you;" they took romantic getaways; and their words to each other were so dripping with ooeygooey sugar-sweet love, it would make anybody a little sick. Do you remember the end of this love story? Solomon ended up with seven hundred wives, three hundred concubines, and was often caught saying such encouraging quotes as "vanity of vanities, all is vanity." You see, as long as we are on this earth, we have not yet arrived at perfection. And even the passionate Solomon was prone to weakness, not because he didn't marry the right one or because they "fell out of love," but because Solomon lost sight of his first love. He lost sight of God and his vows. And that's all it takes. So no matter how much you think you know, how much you love each other, or how much you have already been through together---never never NEVER get too complacent or comfortable. It may get easier, and you may get better at being a married couple, but it will ALWAYS be a work in progress. Satan wants to destroy your marriage, and it is a fight that will never end so long as you are together.

Now, before I wrap this up, I just want to say I know that the Bible gives certain allowance for separation. Maybe you are the one that has already been through a failed marriage. Maybe in your marriage, there was abuse, infidelity, or maybe it wasn't your decision and you were just the one left holding the bags. I just want to say to those of you who have had to suffer through divorce, whether it was or wasn't your fault, I am sorry about the hurt that you have had to experience. Remember that Christ wants to be your true Husband. He gives grace where we fall short, He forgives and NEVER looks back, and He loves with a love that we can't comprehend. He is love, and He will never fail you.