Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25-28
In 2005, the Guinness Book of World Records said that Percy and Florence Arrowsmith held two records—the longest marriage of a living couple (80 years) and the largest married couple’s aggregate age (205 years). Both Mr. and Mrs. Arrowsmith have since died, but they left good advice for those who want to have a lasting marriage. Florence said, “You must never go to sleep bad friends. If you’ve had a quarrel, you make it up. Never be afraid to say, ‘sorry’.”
I am fascinated by couples who have been married for an extended period of time. I know how challenging marriage can be, yet I am enthusiastic about the privilege of ministering to my wife and to other couples through my marriage. My fascination with marriage stems from the theological principle that marriage is a ministry that reflects God’s relationship with us. Indeed, throughout the Old Testament, God refers to Israel as His bride. In the New Testament, Jesus is said to be returning for the wedding celebration with His bride, the Church.
Marriage is the best institution given to humanity. It is indeed holy as it reflects the relationship within the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Those who are blessed to be married should make every effort to serve their mate with humility and lovingkindness to the glory of God.
It has taken me 30 years to fully comprehend and appreciate the ministry of marriage and the blessings it offers. I thank God daily for the gift of my wife and how He has used her to draw me closer to Him. I’m also mindful and intentional to support and encourage other married couples in the body of Christ so they will not grow weary and give up when things become challenging.
Derek Maul of All Pro Dad suggests 5 attitudes men must bring to marriage. However, I think these attitudes are necessary for husbands and wives to cultivate a godly marriage.
1. Humility- is a key characteristic in people willing to learn and in an openness to learning together.
2. Intentionality-Marriage is a big deal, and this must be reflected in our constant intention to make the relationship work. “Making do,” “getting by,” “settling for mediocre,” and “limping along” are all poor substitutes for what is possible. Being intentional keeps our focus on the things that work, positive decisions that lead to service, growth, imagination, and the practice of love.
3. Commitment- “It is not your love that sustains the marriage,” wrote theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his Letters and Papers from Prison, “but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” Commitment is a stronger force than feelings or physical pleasure. Also, when we are committed to something greater, power and principles beyond ourselves, we own a critical source of stability and purpose.
4. Flexibility- Rigidity holds us back from learning, but when we are flexible, we find ourselves not only more relaxed but more open to positive change in our marriage.
5. Gratitude- Here’s a 100% helpful life hack: First thing in the morning, every day, tell yourself out loud how grateful you are for life, the new day, and your spouse. It’s like being the cheerleader for your own marriage and life. Then, right away, do something to express the gratitude. Say, “I love you!” Serve your spouse a cup of coffee in bed or leave a thank you note in his or her breakfast place. The point is to live with gratitude. Simply be grateful to be there, with him or her, in this relationship.
A healthy and prolonged marriage like the one Percy and Florence had is not a thing of the past. Our relationship with God determines the trajectory of our relationship with others in our lives. The more we try to be like Christ and live to the glory of God, the easier it becomes for us to honor God in all relationships, particularly in the ministry of marriage.
Questions for Personal Reflection
Why is Holy matrimony so important to God?
What is your attitude about marriage?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, I thank you for the gift of marriage. Please help me to honor you in my marriage by loving my wife as Christ loves the Church.