Stray or Stay?

Me and Dean, December 22, 1973

 

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled. – Hebrews 13:4 (RSV)

You shall not commit adultery. – Exodus 20:14

Hippie wanna-be that I was in the early 1970s, I still chose the traditional wedding vows: “To have and to hold; for better or worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and health; to love and to cherish; forsaking all others, till death do us part.”

On that day my heart focused on the “better, richer, health” part of that promise. After all, doesn’t true love conquer all? Three years later our first child was born, and romance turned to reality. For the next 20 years, we struggled with raising three children on one income, building a house, and fighting the usual battles with life. The better became worse, richer became poorer, and, while our general health remained good, our bodies began to remind us that we weren’t getting any younger.

Then, 23 years after saying “I do,” I ran away from home. There were other factors in my decision to flee to my brother and his wife in Alabama, but my intention was not just a casual visit: I asked him if I could live with him. He responded by purchasing me a two-way plane ticket for a nine-day stay.

The morning before I left, I asked my husband to pray with me. In the predawn darkness, we knelt before the love seat in the living room, and I wrapped my arms around him. I visualized holding our relationship, like a wounded, broken bird, in my cupped hands and raising it up to heaven.

“Lord,” I prayed silently, “I’ve done my best, but things just keep getting worse. Make it better. Please. I give it all to You. I don’t know what else to do.”

There were no issues such as addiction, unfaithfulness, or abuse. It was simply that there seemed to be nothing left – no love, only heartache, disappointment, and frustration. We never talked heart to heart.

I spent the next nine days praying, reading, and searching for answers.

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way,” my brother told me before I returned home.

Seven years later my husband and I knelt before God again. This time it was in church, at his request.

“Let’s go up and thank God for our relationship,” he whispered to me during the altar call.

As we prayed together, his arm wrapped around me, and I remembered that dark morning when I didn’t think there was anything left. I was wrong. There was: God. Through His power we were able to work through the issues that threatened our marriage.

Dean and me on a day out with family, March 18, 2017

Not that things are hunky dory, even now, during the empty nest years and we have time for each other. At times we’re like a couple of quirky, squirrelly old folks. But we’ve learned that love is not only a feeling. It’s also an act of the will.

What happens when passion ebbs, our bodies begin to break down, and the hormones dry up? Modern society would have us believe that we can find fulfillment in pills, watching porn, sleeping around. But that’s not what God’s Word says.

“Honor your marriage and its vows, and remain faithful to one another, guarding the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband” (Hebrews 13:4).

Honor means to prize highly, to cherish, to show respect for, to treat as precious and valuable. From the romance stage to the reality stage to the revival stage, marriage is a choice, not a fairy tale. If we commit ourselves unselfishly to our spouses, love them as Christ loves His Bride, the Church (sacrificially), then we won’t be tempted to stray – but instead, with God’s help, stay and make our marriages all they can be.

January 2016

Bless our marriage, Lord. Help us to resolve the issues that threaten our commitment to each other. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ephesians 5:21–33; Psalm 119:97–112

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

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