As a minister, I have the privilege of joining young couples and older couples in marriage. Personally, one of the more difficult aspects of the wedding is the rehearsal. Tensions are high, brides are nervous, grooms are goofy, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen are not much help. Mothers, fathers, siblings offer advice, but no one is listening. Then there are those “adorable” flower girls and ring bearers (oh, the stories one could tell). To help cut the tension, I tell anecdotes in place of the wedding ceremony. One of my favorites follows:
There was a young minister who was about to perform his first wedding. He was, as could be expected, quite nervous. He called an older minister that he considered a mentor and asked for advice. “What if forget what I am supposed to say? What if I lose my place in the ceremony?” he inquired.
The older minister chuckled knowingly and replied, “We all worry about that, but it rarely happens, but if it does, you’re a preacher, quote a scripture and apply it to the message until you find your place.”. The young minister nodded at the wisdom of that advice.
The day of the ceremony came, and the young preacher felt quite confident with his message and the advice he gained from his mentor. After welcoming the crowd and congratulating the couple on their decision he began his message from memory. Then looking to his Bible for the next clue word on his outline, he realized he had closed his Bible and began to panic. As the seconds ticked by, feeling like minutes to our young man, he remembered the advice of his mentor and quoted the first verse that came to his mind, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do . . .“ (Insert rimshot or groan here)
Seriously, did any of us really know everything we were doing when we said, “I do!”? No one told me that every marriage is a mixed marriage, like “apples and oranges.” There are so many lessons Amy and I learned the first year. There are things we learned when Andrew entered our lives. There are things we continue to learn as we approach a quarter century of marriage. Looking back, we really did not know what we were doing, but we are having fun learning. Allow me a moment to share a list of four concepts I think every marriage needs:
1. Love. Love is more than that feeling. Love is to do what is right for and best for the other person. Love is sacrificial.
2. Longing. Have a longing for each other. This includes physical intimacy, but do not limit it there. Simply long to be with each other. Amy and I said our marriage vows on August 12, 1989. Today, like most days, I am at my study and she is teaching First Grade, but as much as we like our jobs, we would much rather be together. I anxiously await this afternoon when she and I both get home and can talk about our respective day.
3. Listen. That talk is more than spilling my frustrations, I need to listen to hers. I listen because I care about her. I may not be able to solve all her problems, but I can affirm her emotions and do my best to empathize, and she with me.
4. Learn. Listening leads to learning. Learning their wants, needs, desires, likes, dislikes, struggles, and successes. When you know these things about your husband or wife then you are better able to demonstrate your love.