This past year I listened to “A Life-Long Love” by Gary Thomas. (This was a free audio book I received through Christian Audio (https://christianaudio.com/); this org puts out a free Christian audio book every month!). The book has some convicting and encouraging and reorienting lessons for married believers to apply and live out in their marriage.
While I can’t remember all the principles and ideas, the very phrase “life long love” has been instructive and life-giving to me lately in how I think about my own marriage. Being married to my wife is a wonderful experience, but because of sin (both mine and hers) it can at times be really hard. In the midst of the challenges we have to reorient our thinking and feeling and center our hearts on God and put our hope in the gospel. As we do this, we strive to love each other sacrificially in the power of the Holy Spirit for the duration of our lives. We strive for a “life-long love” which Gary Thomas describes so well in his book.
Remembering and applying that phrase has been good for me lately in our marriage. I would say that such a “life-long love” in marriage is a glorious, beautiful, and joyful thing.
A Life-Long Loving Marriage is GLORIOUS
I’ve only been married to my lovely wife for seven years, and I’m thankful for everyone one of them. In our marriage we have had lots of different seasons together: hard and easy seasons, seasons where living for Christ is harder or easier, seasons of great uncertainty, seasons that feel very settled or unsettled. Pursuing love and commitment to one another through these seasons brings glory to God, as we show in our hearts and lives that God deserves our obedience even when life is very hard—and marriage can be very hard. A marriage that lasts decades and is sustained by God’s grace brings glory to our glorious God of grace.
A Life-Long Loving Marriage is BEAUTIFUL
Beauty is not only outward and physical, but we all recognize the existence of beauty in other ways: the beauty of kindness, the beauty of love, the beauty of sacrifice, the beauty of godliness, the beauty of humility, the beauty of music, the beauty of wisdom, etc. When my daughters are kind to each other, they are bringing beauty into existence. When we show a life-long love to our spouse we are bringing beauty into the world (into our life, into our spouse’s life, into our family, into our community). A marriage that is committed to kind, sacrificial love and preserving commitment is far more beautiful than a marriage that gives up (through divorce, separation, or emotional or physical withdrawal). There is something absolutely beautiful about a couple married for decades who are deeply committed to loving each other. And just as a musician can bring out with a greater variety and volume and clarity of beauty in music after years of dedicated practice than someone who plays for only a few months, so a life-long marriage brings far more beauty than one that throws in the towel after a short period.
A Life-Long Loving Marriage is JOYFUL
My wife can never satisfy my soul and I can never satisfy hers. We were not created to do this or bear this kind of weight. Only God can satisfy the human soul (and in God there is unending joy and pleasure (Ps 16:11). But knowing and loving my wife does bring me much joy, and there is nothing wrong with that and seeking to enjoy her more. Yet, centering our marriage on God and striving for a life-long love of each other in His grace is something that gives us more joy. It a joy that rekindles enjoyment of each other.
It is joyful to know that I get to be my wife through life’s ups and downs. It is joyful to know her more through the years. It joyful to share my fears and hopes with her.
Only God can sustain us by His grace to pursue a life-long love with each other. I pray that His grace abounds in my marriage, and for those who are reading this post and are married, in you marriage too. May we see the glory, beauty, and joy of a life-long love in marriage.