My wife Emilee and I reached the milestone of our 25th Wedding Anniversary on June 13th. We are grateful to God for our marriage, family, and friends. There is much I could communicate about being married for 25 years. The greatest of these would be that Emilee deserves an award for putting up with me, and I’m not even kidding. Beyond this though, I have thought a lot lately about the vows we made to one another when we stood before God, family, and friends, and made a commitment to one another.
We chose traditional vows: “I, ___, take you, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and I pledge myself to you.”
We took each other to have and to hold. Marriage is about uniting as one. Each spouse comes into marriage with their unique background, experience, and personality, and the two become one in Christ. In this regard, there is no other human relationship as personal or intimate as the marriage relationship. A commitment must be to hold onto one another, even when life is uncertain. I don’t think anybody fully understands what they are getting into when they get married. Even the best marriage is a work in progress, a process of sanctification, and a learning exercise along the way.
We committed to have and to hold for better, for worse. If one were to judge by a lot of couple’s Facebook posts alone (which didn’t even exist 25 years ago), you might come away thinking marriage is always happy and exciting. The truth is, it is not. We have been greatly blessed and the better part of marriage has far outweighed the worse. Even so, life is hard and when two sinners come together there are bound to be challenges. The better part prepares you for the worse part!
We determined we would stick with it for richer, for poorer. In my immaturity, I was thinking financially when I took those vows and of course I thought we would live life in the richer category. Compared to the vast majority of the world, we have. I quickly learned however, that the richness of life is not determined by a couple’s bank account, but the many blessings God entrusts to us to enjoy. A happy couple who is focused on the right things will care little about finances. They are important, but should not be the primary focus.
We determined to be devoted in sickness and in health. Many, especially those who get married young, give little thought to the sickness aspect. For the most part we have been blessed with great health. As our family, friends, and church family know we faced a significant crisis with Emilee’s health in 2012. God miraculously answered prayer and restored her health. We give him the praise and the glory for this at every opportunity. Yet none of us know what we will have to face. I have carefully watched a number of older couples in our church who have navigated significant and long-term health trials, and done so with grace and faithfulness to one another. Every day of health is a gift from God we must not take for granted.
We promised to love and to cherish, till death do us part. Love deepens greatly over time in a healthy marriage. Love is a commitment, and is expressed in devotion to one another. Before we got married, one of the pieces of advice we were given was to never threaten divorce, no matter how difficult the situation. We have honored this commitment, and are determined to be married till death do us part. I praise God for faithful couples who are much further along than we are, who set the example of permanency in marriage.
We pledged these vows to each other according to God’s holy ordinance. God designed marriage. God empowers us to be faithful in marriage. This is not easy, and requires that a couple fight for the health of their marriage, and for their purity and commitment.
As best we knew how, by God’s grace we meant our vows, we still do, and we intend to keep them. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, it not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
When we stood on the platform of First Baptist Church of Frostproof, Florida and made these vows to one another, we had no way of knowing where God would take us. We are so thankful to God for our marriage, our three beautiful children, the experiences in life he has blessed us with, wonderful friends all over the world, and for church families who have loved us greatly. Our prayer is God would keep us faithful to him and to one another, and if it would be his will, to grant us another 25 years together, and help us use it for his glory and honor!