February is National Marriage Month. So for the next four weeks, I will post excerpts from my book, I Choose You Today: 31 Ways to Make Love Last. We’ll look at submission, commitment, and pursuing your mate. On March 1, I’ll draw a name from all who have commented on any of the posts for a free copy of the book!
There are times in life you make a commitment to something without fully understanding what that entails. Kind of a leap of faith, a let’s roll with the punches and hope for the best sort of deal. I’ve been there, and I’ll bet you have too.
A few years ago, we took a family vacation. I mean the w-h-o-l-e family. My husband, Ron, and I. Three adult sons, their wives and two young grandsons. It involved a three-hour flight, one rented vacation house, two rental cars, and a huge amount of luggage. We did the beach and Disney and Universal Studios, and a concert in San Diego. We knew going into the week there might be some moments when we might get frustrated or impatient with one another. As a family, we can be a bit dramatic, so we weren’t blindsided when it happened.
But it was at sundown on the sands of Corona Del Mar that things took an unexpected turn . .
We engaged a photographer to snap some family photos on the beach just as the sun was setting. Each son, his wife, and baby (one still hitching a ride in Mama’s tummy) took a place in front of the lens to capture a special moment at the edge of the Pacific.
At last, it was our turn. The photographer positioned us, asked us to kiss, and then something odd happened . . . Ron took a knee. Literally, he fell to his knees in front of me. For a brief moment I thought to myself, Oh, Lord! He’s having a stroke! But I quickly realized my concern was misplaced when I saw him produce a beautiful ring box from his pocket.
“Would you do it all again with me?” he asked. “Would you still choose to marry me?”
I was stunned. The kids all stood nearby, whistling and clapping. Apparently, they’d been in on the surprise. I was caught off guard, but I negotiated the lump in my throat and finally found my voice. “Yes, sweetheart. I’d do it again. I’d still choose you.”
He beamed. I cried. Then I reached for the ring.
He did good. Clearly, he’d been taking notes as I browsed jewelry-store windows. It’s one of the things I love about this man: he has a giving heart. We finished the evening with a fabulous dinner on the beach surrounded by the 8.5 people most important to us.
But the best part of the night for me came later, as we sat and talked about our evening.
“What on earth gave you this idea?” I asked him. “You never even proposed thirty-eight years ago.” We met young and knew we were supposed to marry, so we simply began making wedding plans.
“I know,” he said with a grin. “You didn’t have a proposal story. Every woman should have a proposal story, and I wanted you to have one. This is yours, even if it’s a little late.”
Somehow, that made it even better.
At nineteen, when we got engaged, we didn’t know anything. I mean it when I say we knew nothing about what life would bring our way. We had no clue that marriage would be a full-time job requiring energy and effort we didn’t know we could produce, much less sustain.
We hadn’t envisioned babies with ear infections at two in the morning or caring for elderly parents while raising our children. Layoffs, second mortgages, braces, and college tuition. Moments that pushed us hard and occasionally created conflict between us. It wasn’t always easy, but it was always worth the effort—made possible because we did it together.
So, when the question came, “Would you do it all again?” it was with a full understanding of what those all those years of life together meant. That he would desire to repeat it all meant the world to me. The fact I was still able to say yes without hesitation tells our story. We love one another fiercely.
Love is not a feeling, and neither is marriage. Each is a choice—one that must be made every single day, even if it’s spoken through gritted teeth. And we are smart enough to know we could never manage on our own; we are very clear: united in Christ is how we started and how we must continue if we plan to finish strong. And that is our plan.
It’s an act of our will to choose our marriage, day in and day out. And it is God’s grace that makes that choice possible. Those couples whose marriages thrive have learned the secret: it’s all in the choices you make.
And sweetheart, I choose you, again today.
What’s the secret for hanging on to the happily ever after feelings from the day you said, “I do”? It could be as simple as four little words: “I choose you today.”
Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Words have the power to create. God spoke the world and life itself into existence. We enter into life in Christ by a confession of our mouth. When faith speaks, mountains move. Our words can bless or curse. Words count.
What if we chose to bless—not curse—our union, regardless of our feelings in the moment?
James tells us: “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!” (James 3:5 THE MESSAGE).
Our life is based on a simple principle that marriage is always a choice—one that benefits from a daily renewal of our commitment to one another. Christ followers are charged to live in God’s truth. Feelings are not the foundation for truth; feelings are subject to change. God’s Word is the foundation for truth and it never changes.
Choice is a gift from God. God expects us to choose our marriage, choose our spouse, and choose to live in a way that is pleasing to him. It is then, and only then, we will live the life God meant for us to enjoy.
What will you choose today?