It was essentially a vow within a vow, as we vowed to each other and to everyone present that we would be together with the very same people (and new people) who came to our ceremony 10 years ago to hear us read our vows to each other for the first time.
I don't believe marriage is meant to be easy – it is a hard road with many knocks, stumbles, falls, and lots of getting up again and again. It is full of really hard choices, sacrifices, ridiculous selflessness and constant service and submission to your spouse. But at the same time, it is a journey of blessing, hope, redemption and joy like never before. It is a tiny glimpse into the window of the grace and exceptional love of God expressed through another human being.
Keeping My Marriage Strong
In our fast-paced society, sometimes we want a quick fix to our problems, including our marital issues, but marriage is a life-long journey starting with a strong foundation. Like a quote I read: "Every mighty oak tree was once a nut that stood its ground". When our marriage starts to get hard, I try to live by these few principles. This is definitely not a quick fix remedy, but it is a starting point for us. At the end of the day, nothing can fix anything that is broken but God himself. And as long as we do our best, God will take care of us.
1. Spend quality time with each other.
When my husband and I first starting going out we always used to go to parks, we had two favourite spots. One in South Perth and the other near the University of WA, beside the Swan River. We used to sit and just chat for hours and hours and it would feel like a breeze. Park benches became so significant to us; we had a park bench topper made especially for us on our wedding cake. Every now and then, when life gets too busy for both of us, we will make time to go to our favourite spots and just talk about our lives, struggles and our hope for the future; just like we used to.
2. Remember to romance.
After my husband and I got married and moved in together we had new responsibilities. (No mortgage or kids yet but then even more responsibilities will kick in.) There are bills to pay, a house to clean and keep tidy, dinner to cook despite being incredibly tired from work and adult issues to deal with. Being married is definitely different from just dating. It's unfair to expect the marriage to be as fun, carefree and spontaneous as when we first started dating. But that doesn't mean we can't have romance anymore. I love candles; anyone who's been to our place knows our house is filled with scented candles everywhere. So it's really nice and romantic when I come home, and the dishes are away, the house is clean, dinner is cooked and every light in the house is switched off except for my candles. It's the little things that count. And for a moment, all the dull adult issues are forgotten.
3. Be honest to each other.
My husband is my best friend, if I can't be completely honest with him about everything in my life; it's pointless to me. Recently, I had to confess something to him, relaying to him how I have been harbouring resentment and hurt in my heart over many issues we have been having. We had a long chat about our feelings, and we got to the bottom of it. And that felt really good, by just revealing everything to my husband, good or bad, we can find a way to work things out. Without full honesty we can't be fully vulnerable and we can't have full reconciliation.
4. Intentionally connect.
In our modern technologically based society a lot of human conversation and affection is lost through social media, emails, SMS's etc. I am a real tech person, so it's not a rare sight to see me with my laptop, phone, tablet, earphones, and associated gizmo all with me at the same time. I am guilty of not even putting my head up when my husband walks in. Now I have learned that to connect with my husband I have to be intentional about it. So when we have date nights I intentionally leave my mobile phone at home, which is a big deal for me, because my husband likes to claim I am married to my phone instead of him.
5. Be practical in how you love.
I believe that we should always be practical in how we love each other. It's about doing the little things, about remaining humble and honouring God through our marriage. In Ephesians 4 verses 2-3: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace". At the end of the day it is about being imitators of God in our marriage. We are dearly loved children of God, we should live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us paying the ultimate sacrifice for us – when we have this perspective the sacrifices we do for each other become small. 1 Peter 4 verse 8 says: "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins". Marriage isn't a bed of roses; it is two sinful people coming together to love each other imperfectly. May God be the perfect redeemer for us, first personally and then for our marriage.
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia. She is now working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Western Australia in the Tumour Immunology Group. In her spare time, she runs her small home-based award-winning Cake business, Lollicakes.
Clarissa Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/clarissa-yates.html