To the young people struggling to stay married

We went to a wedding last weekend.

The gorgeous couple had asked Murray and I to do their pre-marriage counselling, which was fun. And serious. And a privilege.

We’re not marriage experts. We’re just married. We didn’t even follow a curriculum. We just had them over for dinner a bunch of times and said, Bring all your questions! We don’t know everything, but we’ll tell you everything we know.

We prayed for them and listened and mediated and laughed and asked tough questions and covered all The Biggies: sex, money, in-laws, expectation management, conflict, communication.

And it was completely wonderful to see them radiant with at-last wedding-day happy-tears.

A friend of the couple preached the wedding message. He was unmarried, and spot on. He spoke with wisdom and authority and, all the single ladies, what a catch. This guy will wait for his bride at the altar knowing a bunch of true and excellent stuff.

He spoke about marriage being a covenant, not a contract. Covenant-keepers look for ways of laying down self. Contract-enforcers look for loopholes. Marriage is all-about-you, not what’s-in-it-for-me. And when you’re fighting? The first one to the cross wins.

Then the bride and groom smile-sobbed through the vows they’d written. She promised to keep on choosing him, and to build when things seem broken. He promised to keep on romancing her, and to protect and provide in such a way that his hands get harder and his heart gets softer.

Everything about the wedding was stunning, especially the people. There were just trendy millennials wherever you looked, sipping trendy gin and noshing trendy canapés. As old people, we were seriously outnumbered and out-beautified.

I turned 41 this past week and was immediately inundated with a plethora of older, wiser, deeper thoughts. And one of those thoughts was –

The striking thing about Kingdom living is that, surrendered to God, you get more and more wrinkles on the outside, but fewer and fewer on the inside. Creases are ironed out by the comfort of long wear. Conflict and confusion unfurl into straight smooth peace.

I’ve really found this tender un-wrinkling to be true of marriage.

And yet – while I have every high hope for our friends who tied the knot last week – over the past few years I’ve become increasingly aware that so many young marrieds are on the wrinkled brink of chucking it all up.

Which seems unthinkable, because, you guys! You’re all so very lovely and despite grazing each other with the rough edges of your one-flesh becoming, it’s supposed to be fun.

Again, I’m no expert and Salvador Dali was right to say, ‘Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.’ I also know every marriage has its own rhythms and resources and unique curveballs.

But I guess I just want to lean in and tell you, Do Not Give Up!

There’s fresh grace for each generation of married people. Fresh grace for the untested cultural climate or crisis you find yourselves in.

Also, to be married well is the easy alliance of knowing completely, and being completely known. And man, I wouldn’t trade that in for anything.

So at that exquisite trendy wedding – I was perfectly relieved that Murray and I could be untrendy together. And on the late-night three-hour drive home again we talked and talked and ate too many liquorice allsorts and I put my feet on the dashboard because they’d been in heels for too long and in those ordinary imperfections I find myself thinking,

I couldn’t be happier.

In a rare moment of gravitas Trevor Noah wrote, ‘Being chosen is the greatest gift you can give to another human being.’

And beautiful young married folks: you exclusively chose each other.

You need to keep on choosing each other.

Preferring each other.

Forgiving each other.

Whatever lies you believed growing up – lies that labelled you and limited you and have you living scared or selfish – in Jesus you get to discover your wholeness and enjoy the fearless freedom of wholly giving yourself to the person you chose.

Please don’t give up.

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. . .

9781444702163If you’re looking for a superb marriage book, I’d totally recommend Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. Flippin’ brilliant.

Have an amazing weekend!

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