When I’m at bridal showers and the hostess asks all the married women to write down their most valued marriage advice for the bride, I blank. Other women begin scratching almost immediately but not me. “The most important?” I think. “On this little card?”
A few days ago Dave and I celebrated our anniversary. Son Jake kept reminding me of it throughout the day, hugging me and whispering in my ear, “Happy 21 years of marriage, Mom.” (It was a welcome change from the zerberts on the cheek and burps in the ear I more often get from my eight year old.)
We’re amazed by the 21 years. We went into marriage young; we’ve never been organized or systematic about it; and plenty of couples we thought were stronger or more compatible have been split apart. We were reminded of that not long ago when Dave saw a picture on Facebook of a friend from long ago with someone other than his wife. The “someone other” turned out to be a relative, but there were certainly no signs—on either his or the wife’s page—that the two of them are still together, and this was a couple we had really looked up to.
(Side note: Their lack of “together” pictures made me think about my own Facebook account, so I checked my photos and info page for evidence of our marriage. Dave must have been doing the same because a message popped up in the middle of my checking. “Dave Underwood has posted that he is married to you. Is this correct?” “Yes,” I clicked. “Jennifer Underwood is now married to Dave Underwood” became my new status—which several friends “liked” and one of my former students commented on: “About time!”)
Last spring Dave and I walked through pre-marital counseling with a young couple. We re-discovered that every bit of advice we gave—about finances, family differences, personality types, love languages, disagreements and fights—has its roots in grace.
I think that’s perhaps the “most important thing,” though the purpose for marriage and a right view of it would also have to be on my “advice for the bride” card. Maybe I’ll write it down and put it in my wallet so I can copy it at the next bridal shower I attend.
Part 1: “Cling to grace—hard! Require daily that your soul be nourished by God’s boundless grace for you. Then let it overflow for your husband. Let grace bridle your tongue and season the words you do say—and how you say them. Let grace be the undercurrent of your actions, your silences, even the looks you give him. And never, ever think you are past your need for it.”