Today is my 18th wedding anniversary with my husband! We met at 16, started dating at 17 and married at 22. Now at 40, I can honestly say that my marriage is my most favorite aspect of life besides my relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
I’ve always heard people ask the question, “What is the one thing that makes your marriage work?” And I’ve contemplated it through the years. I’ve come up with different answers, but I believe there is one key that helps a marriage not only to work, but to flourish. I don’t confess to be a marriage expert (if there is such a thing), but I can say that I truly love and enjoy being united with my husband.
The key that I’ve learned may sound simple, but the beauty and benefits of it will absolutely change a marriage. Not only does it bless the couple as a whole, but it quiets all the individual straining and yearning that put spouses at odds. Mainly, my conclusion is this: In a marriage, the individual dies so the marriage can thrive.
Well meaning people will say to put all your spouse’s needs above your own, but I would disagree. A marriage consist of two parts: a woman and a man, and focusing on one person is lopsided and will hinder the marriage. Therefore, for a marriage to prosper the wants and needs of both people must be considered. As a wife, I can objectively look at my marriage in any given situation and make decisions based on what would be best for the marriage as a whole. Sometimes that means that I highlight my need; sometimes that means that I highlight my husband’s need.
A woman and a man bring equal value into a marriage. The man has strengths, weakness, wants and desires, as does the woman. And when we speak the words, “I do,” the journey of becoming truly one begins. As the years go by, the individual lines begin to blur and an amazing oneness starts to form. The needs of one become the needs of both, and peace and joy permeate the relationship. I am happy when my husband’s needs are met because his needs have become my needs and vice versa.
I am still who God created me to be, but the essence of who I am has merged with another uniquely designed person. Much like an egg and a sperm, we spiritually, emotional and physically become one. “Me” has become “Us,” so together we can live for “Him.” This doesn’t mean that we lose our individual personalities (my husband can attest to that), but it does mean that our personality is half of a greater “marriage personality.”
Finally, when we each keep our eyes on Jesus, the combining of two lives becomes much easier. Jesus and His Word with the refining power of the Holy Spirit give us a path of Truth. When my husband and I follow in that Truth, we will both walk in the right direction together. It does’t mean we won’t have arguments or frustrations–especially during difficult times–but it does mean that we willingly choose to continue to love each other and to die to self so our marriage can prosper.
“For this reason a man shall leave [behind] his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and cleave closely to her permanently, and the two shall become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has united (joined together), let not man separate or divide” (Mark 10.7-9 AMP).