When Charlie and I moved from Florida to South Carolina, after being married for twelve years, one of the first people I ran into from my high school days asked this question with a cheesy grin on her face: “So, how many times have you been married?”
Are you kidding me? What a way to start a conversation after all these years. I resisted the urge to laugh, and I can’t imagine what my expression must have been or how wide my eyes grew, but my immediate response was, “Uh … once.”
Her eyes grew wider than mine, and she seemed confused. She stared at me for a moment, then threw back her head and laughed. Her next question was, “Are you still married?”
Seriously? I was tempted to ask what she’d been smoking. When I told her my husband and I had been married for over twelve years—and planned to stay that way—I’m not sure she believed me. She was already working on her fourth marriage, which she admitted was shaky. This former classmate seemed quite proud of being married so many times. Her story unfolded as if it were an exciting adventure … and a juicy tidbit to gossip about.
My heart broke as I listened, realizing that her misguided and unscriptural mind-set had become the norm of society. This young woman was experiencing—at least to her way of thinking—what was expected and perfectly acceptable.
That conversation took place over thirty years ago, but it still haunts me today. The institution of marriage was struggling then, and the problem has only worsened.
According to an article in the 2015 AFA Journal (American Family Association), “Some believe marriage is on its way out—a dying institution, a global failure.” The author goes on to say, “With more than half of marriages ending in divorce in and out of the church, we can only expect an escalating trend to continue, right? The 50 percent divorce rate stat has spread far and wide. And it has wielded a heavy dose of disillusionment along the way.”
Add to that, the number of couples who decide it’s easier to play house—living together and trying-each-other-on-for-size—than make a lifelong commitment. If the relationship doesn’t work out or meet expectations, no problem. It’s the no-strings-attached approach. When a couple isn’t legally bound to each other, they simply walk away. Changing partners has become as easy as changing your socks.
No matter how strong your marriage, or how fragile, prayer will be the essential ingredient for a healthy, thriving relationship that honors God and brings the fulfillment He intended. Without Him as the center of your union and His Word as ultimate and final authority, you’ll never experience the blessings He promises to a husband and wife who are fully and wholly submitted to Him.
So here we are, you and I, about to go on a journey through over forty years of wedded bliss with no arguments, no catastrophes, and no bumps in the road whatsoever. Not even close.
This journey will paint no perfect pictures, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. Slippery places with no guardrails will put us dangerously close to sliding over the edge. We’ll encounter detour signs, fallen power lines, and torrential rains that blind us to the pathway in front of us. The good news is God will travel with us, protecting, guiding, and lighting the way.
If you’re ready to learn a few tips that will make your marriage strong—and a lot of common mistakes that will destroy it—buckle your seatbelt, and let’s get this bus moving.
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What’s one thing that challenges your marriage?
by Andrea Merrell
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Andrea Merrell is an author, freelance editor, workshop leader, and writing mentor with a passion to encourage other writers and help them sharpen their skills. She is Associate Editor for Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Andrea has been published online and in numerous anthologies. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript: Writing and Editing Tips to Keep Your Book Out of the Editorial Graveyard, The Gift and Praying for the Prodigal. For more information or to contact her, visit www.andreamerrell.com or www.thewriteediting.com.