Long Lasting Marriage - Life Stories Mark and Liz Samuel
Writing about marriage and what makes marriage work is a difficult assignment. Marriage is messy and there is no one-size-fits-all in marriage. We love each other deeply and we are committed to making our marriage work, messiness and all. In fact, after more than twenty-five years of marriage, we love each other more and are more committed to our marriage than ever. It is a wonderful thing to have your favorite person in the world by your side day in and day out, but make no mistake. Having a happy marriage takes hard work and commitment. We do not claim to be experts in making a marriage work but we are happy to offer our experience if it helps to strengthen someone’s marriage. There is one basic that has helped us to have a strong marriage. It is this: Keep God first in everything and your spouse a close second. Everything else (children, work, home, etc.) revolves around the strength and priority of your relationship with the Lord and with your marriage relationship.
Ephesians 5:22-33 lays out God’s plan for the marriage relationship. Submission is a bad word in today’s society but, when read in its entirety, God’s plan for a wife’s submission to her husband is directly related to the husband’s submission to the Lord. The more he is leaning on the Lord and leading his family the way God intended, the more his wife will want to submit to him. If he is a true Ephesians husband, he will love his wife deeply, cherishing her and wanting the best for her, feeding her from God’s word, praying for her and being attentive and devoted to her. That speaks directly to the heart and needs that God put in a woman. If she is a true Ephesians wife, she will defer to her husband because of the great love and respect she has for him, wanting to follow his leading because of the trust she has in his protection and provision for her. That speaks directly to the heart and needs that God put in a man. We both continue to work on this but have seen the blessing that comes from being in line with God’s plan for marriage.
Practically, for us this means seeking the Lord together and separately when there are issues and concerns. It means recognizing that the devil is real and out to destroy our marriage and that we have to fight him, our own flesh, our society … anything that would negatively influence our marriage. We realize that when we have disagreements, our spouse is not the enemy. We know that we have different ideas and feelings and that, even if we disagree, it is critical that we seek to understand and validate each other. We don’t want fear, doubt or worry to creep into our marriage. Those are not of God. When we disagree we ask the Lord to bring both of us to an understanding of His desire and purpose. So many times we have been able to deal with situations and circumstances because we both trusted the Lord and God’s heart in each other.
Finally, we have had seasons where what keeps our marriage going isn’t the feelings but the commitment. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing because we recognize that and can rest in it, knowing that the feelings will come back (and they do, time and time again) and that our commitment is for the long haul. A happy marriage is not a destination but a journey and every experience together, thoughtful gesture, kind word, compassionate act, mountain climbed, even crisis faced, is another pebble in the road of that happy marriage. When things seem to be getting stale, we look for opportunities to spend time together, to create new memories, to rejuvenate and refresh ourselves.
We have been happily married for over twenty-five years and are looking forward to the next twenty-five years, trusting that the Lord has only great and wonderful things in store for us as husband and wife.