David and I on our wedding day, December 15, 1984. I never realized on that day how much more I would come to love, respect, and appreciate my husband.
My husband David and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this month. I am amazed and grateful to have made a home with this wonderful man for 3 decades, while learning so many important truths in the process. I wrote about some of these lessons in my book OPTIMISM FOR AUTISM, in a chapter entitled, “Navigating the Marriage Waters.” I believe these lessons hold true for any kind of relationship, but especially for marriage.
Appreciate Your Differences
David and I are very different. He is extremely athletic, and I am, well . . . not. I was always the last one picked for kickball in grade school. If adults played that game, I still would be chosen last. A born leader, David blazes trails and inspires people wherever he goes. He serves on several boards and committees, which value his foresight and wisdom. I, however, am content sipping on a cup of tea while talking with a friend, reading a good book, or writing.
David sees the big picture and plans for the future. I take care of the day-to-day details. David plays the guitar and sings beautifully. I have been told singing is not my gift . . . by my giggling children when I try to sing the high notes. I, however, love to pour over my Bible and teach a weekly adult Sunday School class about the treasures in God’s Word. David doesn’t like to sit still to do all that studying.
Our personalities differ, too. David is passionate, strong, and direct. He seeks to get results, to get things done. I’m sensitive and extremely tender-hearted. My feelings get wounded easily, and I hurt quickly for others.
We often viewed our differences as flaws instead of unique attributes chosen by God. The Bible says each person on earth is God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); that means every one of us is uniquely crafted by the Lord. He wisely and lovingly chooses and gives us our personalities, temperaments, abilities, physical traits, strengths, and weaknesses. He weaves all those features together to create one-of-a-kind individuals, who carry and represent His attributes on earth. We are made in His image (Genesis 1:26), and the Lord says His designs are meant to fulfill His special purposes (Ephesians 2:10). Even in marriage.
Over the years, David and I realized how our unique personalities, gifts, and traits added to our marriage and family in unique and vital ways. We brought our abilities together under the Lord’s direction, chose to appreciate them, and allowed the Lord to use them as He intended through our marriage.
Realize Your Combined Strength
Like a beautiful tapestry, the threads of our individual lives can come together in a marriage and create a beautiful work of art that would not have existed without the intertwining strands. In the process, the Lord can display a stronger picture of Himself through the combined lives of husband and wife. Ultimately, the tapestry becomes one stunning picture of Jesus, versus a bunch of individual threads. Growing and becoming one in marriage takes time and commitment, and the Lord helps in the process.
Over the years, David and I have come to respect what each of us brings to our marriage. The Lord has done great things through our being together—much more than could have been accomplished separately. We are stronger collectively than we are individually.
The Bible says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NASB). In marriage, Jesus is the third strand, the main cord that keeps the marriage together and strong. It’s our job as husband and wife to wrap our individual cords around Him. He actively works to help the marriage not only survive, but also thrive.
Honor the Lord Together
The Lord has taught us that marriage is not about what we can get, but about what we can give—to our spouse, and especially to God, by cooperating with Him in what He is trying to accomplish in and through our union.
Being married is like sailing a ship. Sometimes the waters are smooth and calm, and other times, you are fighting huge waves and gale-force winds. Either way, the goal is to navigate together and allow Jesus to captain the ship. He has a goal, a purpose for every marriage—that the marriage would reflect and honor Him.
The Lord designed marriage to reflect to the world the relationship between Christ and the church, those He loves dearly (Ephesians 5:31-32). Since marriage is supposed to represent how Christ and the church relate to one another, He has a vested interest in making marriage all it can be, a vehicle of love and respect for the world to see.
Whenever David and I have conflicts, the best solution is always to go to the Lord about it. He knows the best course to take. I remember the time He told me to stop expecting David to be Jesus . . . I was putting too many unrealistic expectations on him and needed to show him some grace instead. I also remember when David humbly approached me and said the Lord had instructed him to treat me more gently, and he was going to try to do so. Only the Lord is able to look straight into the heart of issues and give the perfect advice and direction. Jesus doesn’t come to take sides in marriage conflicts. He comes to take over.
As David and I grew in our marriage, the Lord ultimately arranged circumstances so that we got baptized together on our 12th anniversary: December 15, 1996. I felt as if the Lord was telling us then, as He is today, “Okay. Just remember: We are in this together.”
So here we are, 18 years past that baptismal date, and 30 years since we first made our marriage vows. I look back and think how quickly the time has passed. It makes me long all the more to honor Jesus and share His love with the precious people He has placed in my life. By His grace, I can do that . . . and so can you.
Question: How have you seen the hand of Jesus at work in your marriage or other relationships? Comment at the link below.
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Susan Jane King