My twin sister’s wedding happened almost two weeks back and it was a joyous, joyous occasion, as all weddings are supposed to be. Apart from the miracles that took place, which bear retelling, the wedding ceremony centered on two very important elements of marriage: God, as the source of love and forgiveness, and union between, as Rayjohn put it, “sinners saved by grace.” I loved that it went that direction because all too often we paint marriage with colored hues and rainbows and candies. We think it is all bliss and joy and, as some might describe the wedding, “perfect.” Truth is, the two people who are celebrating this occasion are not preparing for the wedding, but for the marriage. And they come together as two imperfect individuals, with their own flaws, their own weaknesses, even their own natural tendencies to be selfish. God’s grace keeps them together and finding one who complements you as a person is very divinely-appointed.
I transferred Keren’s vow on a piece of paper and happened to read it before she said it in front of Rayjohn and everyone else. I teared up when she wrote that she knew Rayjohn was the one for her when she had a back injury that disabled her for a time. She didn’t feel like worshipping God in that condition, but Rayjohn encouraged her, cried with her, prayed with her, ministered to her, and worshipped with her. This is the husband you want. Somebody who has your back and will point you back to God. Another story came out during the reception when Rayjohn and Keren’s friend testified that they never imagined the two would end up together given their rocky, complicated start. Each has his own tendencies to think of himself first, and the beauty and miracle of marriage is that despite this, God chooses to still lead them together and uphold them. His grace for each of them is abundant.
Marriage is sacred and two weeks following this wedding, I’m still learning my lessons.
Given that faith is already a non-negotiable to me, the next most important consideration for marriage is the person’s character. And sometimes, a person’s true character only comes out right after marriage or when you have lived together, which is the tricky part. I think that’s why for some, it is better that they start out as friends or know each other for a period of time before getting into a relationship, because you would have already been familiar with the person’s character, attitude and traits. That said, it can still happen that people only know each other for a short period of time and still make marriage work. How? Well, they “work” at it, and I have a beautiful illustration in my mind of a godly marriage that works. It is when both parties are firstly devoted to God, and secondly, devoted to each other. Both have given up their “selves”, their “rights”, and are now living for God and for each other. Each thinks of the other person first, not just me, me, me. No one is “abusing” or “enslaving” the other party such that the woman feels she’s only good for service, or the man lords it over her that she ought to submit. It disgusts me when I see men who do nothing but make their wives serve them, as if that is the only duty wives are supposed to do. They are supposed to be partners, walking together towards God’s direction for their life. The verse in the bible that talks about husbands loving their wives? There’s a reason they should because then, the wives would just find it easy to respect and honor and love them in return. The examples I’ve seen this past couple of weeks aren’t exactly living up to this ideal. That’s why I am taking these lessons to heart.
I would rather take it slow, develop and pursue friendship, than rush into a relationship without knowing the person’s true character, and then end up being in a miserable place. People always show the good side first. Later on, the dragon scales come out and you find that they are the complete opposite: manipulative, controlling, rigid, impatient, unloving and immature. I never want to be in that situation. And I never want people I love to be in that situation. It is rather disappointing to find out that people you thought were good turn out to be the complete opposite.
Another lesson I’m learning is that marriage takes work and a lot of effort, like all relationships. God does his part, and so should the couple. Never neglect talking things out, or listening to the other party without prejudice. Pray together. Worship together. Be open to criticisms and suggestions. Hear each other out and do not force your own ways. Honor each other. Love and forgive one another. Be patient and do not embarrass each other in front of people. Stick to each other through thick and thin. Laugh together. Remember, marriage is between two people, not just one. When you start being complacent, too familiar to the status quo, to what has always been done in the past, it is very easy to take things for granted. It might just be too late to find you are already on sinking sand.
I would just like to honor my mom on this aspect, because as I’ve seen her in two marriages already, I know the “hard work” she puts into maintaining and keeping her marriage intact, even when the other party doesn’t hold his end of the bargain. My mom and biological dad have since moved on and grace has kept both of them. I am thankful to her example. Her strong character, her godliness, even her emotional strength (tried and tested) are admirable.
Marriage. Some days I think I’m ready for it, and other days, as reinforced by these examples, I think I’m not. I see too often that people do not give enough thought to marriage because it isn’t the clear direction of their relationship. If they “happen” to see each other compatible, then they will “consider” it. Wouldn’t it be better to consider it as the primary goal of your relationship than to just wing it as an afterthought? And wouldn’t it be just right that your relationship with God is the one you work the most? He will transform you, change you, and renew you, and it will overflow to those around you. I believe this is what would make marriage really work.