There is a moment in every marriage when something clicks and there is that aha moment when you realize, this is us! this is the essence of our relationship!
Several years ago, Rick and I vacationed with some friends in Rocky Point, Mexico. We loved walking the beach together. During our walk one day, this photo was taken of us by one of our friends. When we saw the photo for the first time, we both had one of those aha moments.
Rick and I hold hands a lot. Rick’s walk is a bit unstable; one of the results of a bad auto wreck many years ago. Holding my hand gives him more stability when he walks.
Just before we were married in 1998, one of my best friends asked me if I was absolutely sure I wanted to marry someone who had some physical difficulties. I immediately thought of our hand-holding and replied, “Well, let me see… I’ll need to hold Rick’s hand for the rest of our lives together. Hmmm, do I really want to do that? Um, yes, yes I do!”
She laughed at my response and said she was just checking to make sure I was completely ready for this marriage. I’ve always appreciated how much she loved me to be able to ask such a blunt question.
Here’s the thing: That photo above is the essence of Rick and me in our marriage. Rick holds my hand for stability, yes, but he also loves to hold my hand. I hold Rick’s hand because I want him to have that stability while he’s walking, and because I love to hold his hand.
I think that pretty much sums up our marriage—mutual love and caring for each other—and this photo has become very dear to us because it is the snapshot of our marriage.
So what is your marriage snapshot? Do you have a photo of the two of you that speaks volumes about who you are as a couple? You may not have an actual photo but maybe you remember a moment when something happened that made you think, Wow, this is so us!
The triangle image is a great way to show that husbands and wives are to keep their eyes focused on Jesus rather than just on each other. What happens because of that is the more time we each spend focusing on Jesus and His will and plan for both of us, the better and closer our relationship with Jesus will become. And the closer we walk with Jesus, the closer we get to each other.
The inevitable result of that kind of closeness is that husbands and wives often start thinking alike and their ultimate marriage goal is to love each other as Jesus Christ loves us.
One of my favorite commentaries is J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible. He breaks down 1 Corinthians 13:4—“Love suffers long and is kind”—like this:
“’Love suffers long,’ which means it is patient and kind. Love is impossible without kindness. Love without kindness is like springtime without flowers, like fire without heat. Remember how Paul admonished, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
If we are trying to apply the marriage triangle principle, one of the keys to living with and loving each other as Jesus loves us is with an unselfish, patient kind of love.
One of the exercises during Rick’s and my premarital counseling was to list what we expected from each other. My number one response was: “When I come home from work tired and weary, Rick will be there for me, to comfort and hold me.” How naïve I was! Our pastor pointed out that only God can fulfill that kind of need for me, so I should rely on Him for that. What a wise and true response!
Love is about building up the other person. If you have a need, a real and persistent need, then I suggest you turn to God to fill it up. He’s the only one who can fix it.1
What kind of marriage do you truly want? One that is all about what you can get out of it, or one in which you seek to love your spouse as Jesus loves you? The first one may fulfill your needs, but what about your spouse’s needs? How can you truly love your spouse if what you’re primarily focused on is how to make yourself happy?
On the other hand, a person whose attention is more centered on their spouse will look for ways to serve them, and in doing so will show how much they truly love them—again, just as Christ loves us.
Marriage is designed to mirror our Creator’s unconditional love for us. It’s a love that will always be there and will never leave us or forsake us. When a man and woman love one another with that unconditional love, contentment follows and joy abounds.2
Believe me when I say that it is so worth trying your best to love and care for your spouse with the kind of love Jesus has for us. Although there will be times when you don’t get it just right, there will be more occasions when you’ll be on the right track and reap the blessing of a closer, more loving marriage relationship.