(This article was first published in 2016)
The beauty of young love.
We’ve just experienced one of those big life moments and enjoyed a memorable weekend. Our daughter Olivia got engaged to a fine young man Asher Pilbrow and we couldn’t be happier. And nor could they! They have dated for almost 3 years and are now excited to begin their life journey together. As I watched them yesterday, their joy and love evident for all to see, I wanted to bottle it – young love is just so precious.
I know the next few months will be filled with both drama and excitement as dresses, suits, flowers, venues, cars and cakes all need to be decided. With all those decisions will be joy, laughter and no doubt some tears.
Prepare for your marriage not just your wedding day
As they prepare for their wedding I want to continue to help them prepare for their marriage. Amongst the long to-do list they have for the big day I also want to try and instill some words of wisdom and reality. A wedding is for a day – marriage is for life. Fortunately they’ve been prudent and have prepared well. They’ve done an ‘Imago’ relationship course, they’ve independently done ‘Soul Tour’, and this year they attended our “Weekend To Remember” marriage getaway which they found fun and so valuable. However there’s nothing like real life……. ordinary life…….to really learn what it means to sacrificially love another person. Don’t you agree?
And so I was thinking this morning – what would be my top pointers that I would like to pass on to our sweet Olivia.
Be gracious and forgiving.
I learnt early in marriage that Andy and I had the ability and the opportunity to unintentionally hurt one another. I want Libby to be aware that the person whom we love is also likely to be the person who will hurt us the most (and visa-versa). But marriage is not the place to hold grudges. Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, made a profound statement many years ago which I’ve clung to….. “A great marriage is the union of two forgivers”.
Great marriages don’t just happen. They take work, energy and creativity. And they need a vision. We encourage folk to plan regular date nights, read marriage books together, have personal getaways. Andy and I made a promise to one another that we would attend some kind of marriage event every couple of years to keep our relationship on track. Little did we know back then we’d be attending one almost every month!
It’s so vital that we invest in one another when life is relatively easy. It’s like a bank – a love bank that we can deposit into. In the hard times when you’ve nothing to give each other you’re drawing on that investment.
Keep your love deposits high.
I can’t say it better than the apostle Paul in the Bible – when we truly love we are “patient, kind, loyal, not proud, not selfish, not demanding, always believing the best and always hoping for the best”.
People who have successful marriages choose to love even when they don’t necessarily feel like it. They’ve learnt to lead their feelings not depend on feelings to lead their actions.
Be one another’s cheer leader.
The world can be a tough place. At times we can feel vulnerable and lose confidence. In marriage we see each other’s weaknesses right up close and personal. What a privilege we have to build up our spouse and encourage them to be all that God created them to be.
Find your significance, security and self-worth in God, not in each other
Don’t look to Asher to make you happy. Our significance, our security and our self-worth comes from God Himself, not a person. When we expect a person to meet those needs a relationship quickly deteriorates – we become needy, demanding and dependent. God wants us to find our value and identity in Him – when we do, we are free to give to, rather than take from one another.
There’s much more I could say to my daughter (and over time I will ) but for now I’ve said enough . If she can focus on these things then I’m confident that her and Asher can enjoy a fulfilling and rewarding marriage.
I’m certain that their young love that is so precious today will blossom into ‘old love’ that becomes priceless over time.