8) Rely on God. Maybe one of my favorite verses, in the bible, on relationships is a verse that speaks about the makeup of close friendships. That verse is in Ecclesiastes 4:12. It says, “A cord of three stands is not quickly broken”. God has blessed, my wife and I, with four daughters so, even though I don’t know much about how to do hair, there as some basic hairdos I have to know. I can do a pretty good ponytail and I at least know how to braid hair (though I probably wouldn’t send them to school with one of the braids I make). One of the things that amazed me about a braid is that when you look at it, it looks like two stands of hair twisted together. However, in reality, a braid is actually three stands of hair that only looks like two. The third one is essential for holding it all together. I believe the same is true in marriage. Marriages look like they are made up of two people but, those that are built on God, have a third strand that helps to hold them together.
I have tried to summarize here some simple, yet important, keys to a lasting marriage. But, in all honesty, I must end here the same way I started; without the guidance and grace of God, in our lives, none of these other things will likely be enough. In fact the only reason, I believe, we have learned any of these things is because of Him. He has shown these things to us. He has opened our hearts to one another when they have grown cold and calloused with hurt. I have spent so much time during these twenty years asking God to give me wisdom to know, understand, and love my wife. I have asked him to renew my love for her and to see her as the gift He has always desired her to be in my life. I’ve also asked that I would be what she needs me to be as her husband (that prayer doesn’t seem to get answered as much as I would like : ). I believe that those moments when our hearts are turned back towards each other it has been an answer to those prayers.
It is possible for us to choose to try and do marriage all on our own strength. To, in essence, do what feels right and seems right to us. That reminds me of how pilots are told to always trust their gauges, when flying a plane, over how they feel or what their bodies are telling them to do. Apparently, a pilot who flies a plane based what his body and equilibrium tells him to do, stands at great risk of crashing the plane. The gauges don’t lie. If a pilot follows them he will fly the plane safely. We can do the same with our marriage. We can do it our way and simply act and respond out of our hurt and frustrations, or we can choose to seek direction and strength from God. In this way then, we are choosing to love, forgive, and extend grace to one another beyond our own ability to give. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make you paths straight.” Sounds to me like some good gauges to follow.