Jump Start # 2452
Ecclesiastes 9:9 “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil which you have labored under the sun.”
This verse means a lot to me today. This is the anniversary of our wedding. It’s been thirty-nine years and what a journey it has been. I was twenty-three and my wife was just twenty when we got married. Young, full of ideas, and confident. I was preaching in a small congregation in Illinois, not sure what I was doing. In all those years, we have lived in three different states, in eight different houses, have been blessed with four children and now nine, and soon to be ten, grandchildren. Indeed, life is a journey.
I like how Solomon opens this verse, “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love…”. That is a spirit, an attitude. One chooses to do that. Not all of life is enjoyable. I certainly don’t miss those diaper years. There has been trips to the hospital and surgeries. There has been funerals of one of our parents and dear friends. There has been uncertainties about where to move and whether or not that was the right decision. There was teaching the kids how to drive and then worried about them when they were out driving. There has been storms in the church and concerns about money. That’s life. Everyone has those things. And, a person can paint their life with those images or they can, as Solomon says it, “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love.”
Adam never really dated Eve. God presented Eve to Adam and they were married, I assume the very day that they met. Adam didn’t have to make a choice between more than one woman. There was only Eve. Adam didn’t have to go ask Eve’s father for permission to marry her. Eve’s father, God, was the one who presented her to Adam. I doubt they had a wedding like we do in America. There was no one else to invite. There was no one to do the ceremony, except God. They didn’t have to worry about a meal list, seating for guests or writing thank you cards later on. If they got into a fight, there was no running back home for either one of them. There was no “back home” to go to. In our culture, we date, we fall in love and we get married. For Adam, it was get married and then fall in love. But Adam was the only to experience this. There has been arranged weddings for centuries, especially among the ruling classes.
All around us we continually hear of marriages falling apart. People are not enjoying life together. Misery, unrealistic expectations, flirting eyes, and problems causes some to toss in the towel on their marriages. Many, if not most, know better. They are not thinking. They are not taking their promises seriously. They are not committed.
So, having been married to the same person for thirty-nine years, what’s the secret? How does one do it?
There is really no secret. There are some things that a person must do, but it’s not all that hard.
First, you must want to stay married. If a person keeps talking and thinking about a way out, they will eventually find that way out. The word “divorce” ought to be like a cuss word in your home. You don’t threaten each other with it, you don’t think about it, you don’t mention it. Divorce is not an option. Period. But more than that, you want to be married. “Enjoy life,” is how our verse opens. Sour, misery, and plagued with problems is what some focus upon. To “enjoy life with the woman whom you love,” means you do things together. It’s not a matter of simply putting in the years of you doing your thing and she doing her thing. You are together. You enjoy life together. Together you bring out the best in each other. Together you introduce things that you, on your own, would never explore. But because you love her, you will do what she likes to do. And, because she loves you, she will do what you like.
It’s like the merging of two rivers. Where the rivers first come together, it’s a big uneasy, but soon all smooths out and it’s beautiful. One area for us has been music. For my wife it is classical. For me it’s the Beatles and 60’s. I wouldn’t choose to go to a classical concert on my own. But now, through my wife, we have had season tickets for years to the orchestra and I have learned so much. I enjoy classical music. For her, she knew of the Beatles but barely. Now, she knows more than I do and we’ve seen Paul McCartney twice in concerts and have been to Abby Road in London. You got to want to stay married.
Second, you have to pull each other closer to the Lord. That is the fiber that makes a marriage. With God, grace, patience, forgiveness and putting the other first, along with worshipping God every day and being part of a church family is essential. Reading the Bible, praying together, worshipping together, will only add the right fuel to your hearts and your marriage that will get you through the tough moments in life. Where else will you get those things? Not from TV. “Marriage Boot-camp,” is nothing more than the way to ruin a marriage and hate each other. Will family members give you what your marriage needs? Probably not. God was the one who came up with the marriage idea. It was God who presented Eve to Adam. God knows. The more God is in the marriage, the stronger it will be. Every couple needs Christ.
Third, you decide whether to enjoy life together or not. Oh, there are things I could say every day that would irritate my wife to pieces. But, why would I do that? There are things I could do that would bug her. But why would I be like that? Selfishness, pride and indifference usually are the reasons one acts the way they do. They don’t think about honoring the other. They don’t think about helping out the other. They don’t try to put the other first.
We love to have people over. We do it all the time. Now, I could sit in front of the TV and watch a game while my wife does everything or I can get up and help her out. I can’t cook, but I can clean, sweep, dust and afterwards, wash dishes. I can complain about it and put a dark cloud on the evening, or we can work as a team. We’ve done this for almost four decades. Teamwork works!
Has there ever been any disagreements? Sure. Has there ever been any arguments? Yes. One anniversary dinner, with money tight and little ones in the back seat, the drive through at McDonald’s was about all we could afford. One worries about car payments, affording braces for the kids, and how to pay for college. And, now it’s thoughts about retirement, wills and the next chapters of our life. Those are things everyone goes through. But these three points, wanting to be married, including God and having the attitude to enjoy life together, gets you more than just through, it gets you better. Some evenings we can just sit on the back deck and look off into the woods behind us and nothing really has to be said. We know it. We feel it. We enjoy it. Together is a special word.
Happy anniversary to my sweetie. If I could do it all over again, I’d do it all over, especially with you. IT’s been a wonderful, wonderful journey, because of you. An old Indian proverb says, “Marriage is many moons in the same canoe.” So, it is!