Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.
– Barnett R. Brickner
I asked the most beautiful woman in the world if she would marry me and she said “no!” So I asked the most intelligent woman in the world if she would marry me and she said “no.” So I decided to ask the most spiritual woman in the world if she would marry me and she said “no.”… Then finally I asked Jane if she would marry me and she said, “Yes, I don’t have the heart to tell you no for the fourth time.”
Thankfully, I only had to ask Jane to marry me one time. I proposed to Jane sitting on a TWA airplane (I know I sound old) which was going from Saint Louis to Cleveland. I was disguised wearing grungy jeans and a leather jacket. I also grew a beard, wore a long, blonde-haired wig my mom had since the 60s, and finished my fashion statement with a funky pair of thick safety glasses. The flight attendants and ticketing agents thought I was crazy, but they loved the idea and were most helpful assisting me pull off my engagement plan.
Honestly, I looked more like the guy on Wayne’s World than someone about ready to make one of life’s most serious, life-altering decisions. Jane and others really got a kick out of the creative proposal. The pilot even announced our engagement over the speaker and sent us to first class with a bottle of champagne (No, I don’t drink). We had so much fun. Unbeknownst to us, both of our families surprised us as we walked out of the airport and sprayed us with gobs of silly string. Even a reporter from the local news was there who interviewed us and broadcasted it all over northeast Ohio. What memories.
We started off with a bang, like a fairytale, life was good! I finally met the woman of my dreams. But soon, this fairytale was turning into a nightmare and a storm was brewing. It was time to deal with reality. Little did we realize what we had to endure. It was tough, it was painful, but with God’s grace we made it!
Like us, no matter what you are dealing with, you will overcome. The catch is this: How teachable, humble, and persevering are you going to be? I’ve discovered that there are some things no one tells you before you tie the knot!
Marriage is spelled W-O-R-K!
You’re gonna work harder than you’ve ever imagined. But then again, when is anything worth accomplishing and being successful at require anything less than hard work? At first things are easy when you’re living off of the hormone rush. Once that is gone, it requires effort, sweat and some elbow grease! If it was so easy then everyone would be successful at it. Remember the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Even the best marriages have some lousy times!
Don’t fall for the lie that says, “I must have missed marrying my soulmate. If not, then why are we struggling so hard?” No one sharpens a knife with a stick of butter. God uses your mate and the institution of marriage to sharpen us in ways nothing else can. Your mate is not only God’s voice to you, but God’s sandpaper as well! Just think how smooth you are already?
You will get so mad sometimes you’ll want to spit fire!
Your spouse will hurt you beyond words. After an argument with Jane I was so mad I can remember going downstairs and hitting the punching bag like Rocky hit the slabs of beef in the meat locker. Getting mad is okay, but it’s how you handle your emotions realizing that your spouse is most likely hurting, too. There is something God is working in you (even if the other person is wrong). Reconcile quickly with an attitude that says “I care”.
Marriage will teach you so much about yourself!
I learned how stubborn and insecure I was. I realized I wasn’t as mature as I thought. God uses marriage to get us to grow up. To quote from one of my mentors, Jimmy Evans, “Before marriage will make you happy, it will first make you grow up.” Unfortunately, many believe marriage is simply for their personal pleasure and run once they feel the flames of trials.
You will never change your spouse – ever!
I realized that only God can change people. It seemed the harder Jane and I tried to change each other the more frustrated we became. Once we let go and let God (more than just a nice Christian cliche), things really took off. Faith is learning to let go and let God convict the other person! The only person you can change is yourself. You may not be able to change your mate, but you can inspire them to change by changing yourself!
Your marriage is worth fighting for no matter what your mind or others may be telling you. Don’t quit now, you’ve already invested so much. Why would you pay the price then let someone else enjoy the fruit of your labor? The grass may seem greener on the other side of the fence, but believe me, it took a lot of work to get it that way (Then again, they may have a leaky septic tank). Are you willing to recommit to your mate today? Your best days are ahead!
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties. And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
– Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV
“But let a man examine himself…”
– 1 Corinthians 11:28 NKJV