A Marriage that Endures
I’ll be honest; marriage is hard. A strong, enduring marriage takes time, letting go of fear, and hard work. Years ago, when our kids were little, a wise counselor advised my husband and me to find an activity that we could enjoy doing together. So, we started training for triathlons. I know, not what you expected, right? I had already raced in a couple of triathlons myself and became addicted. I wanted my husband to join me in my next race, but he wasn’t a swimmer. We learned the local YMCA offered private swim lessons and we signed up. Date night!
We looked forward to training together as often as possible; but finding the time to workout proved challenging. When the kids were little, we hooked up a bike trailer and brought them cycling with us. Once they grew out of the trailer, thankfully, my mom agreed to come over once a week. A nice, long bike ride out in the country and a treat at our favorite frozen yogurt shop became our quality time together.
Learning how to ride a bike, like marriage, requires letting go of fear. Teaching our kids to ride bikes was much harder than expected. I remember being very nervous that my kids would fall off the bike. My neighbor taught me to let them fall. Then, I finally taught them to ride.
Perhaps, because I grew up with my parents getting a divorce at a young age, I was afraid. Afraid that I wouldn’t be a good wife, afraid that I would mess up, afraid that he might no longer want me. Afraid to fall. We can’t learn if we don’t fall.
And fall we did. We thought we had conquered dating and our marriage would be perfect. But no marriage is perfect. Riding down the winding and bumpy roads of still getting to know each other, we took the time to learn how to be a better spouse.
We learned cycling was a safe place to argue. Let’s face it. Riding a bike takes a lot of energy and so does arguing. We all argue. But how we argue is what matters, right? We can get quite worked up about what we are feeling and saying that we aren’t listening well to our spouse. Listening takes energy. We found that we were calmer when having hard discussions while riding our bikes! We communicated and listened better. We didn’t have the energy to argue! Cycling really did help. We would start joking about how we needed a bike ride to further discuss things.
We put in the hard work to make our marriage endure the long distance. We continued dating each other. We sought wise counsel when the roadblocks came. Guess what? After twenty-one years of marriage, we are still not perfect. We are still a work in progress and God isn’t finished with us yet. He has taught us a lot. He is faithful to complete the work He is doing. God teaches us in His true Word, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV). He is faithful to be in our marriages. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9, ESV).
Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to put in the time required, to allow yourself to fall, to do hard things. Find creative ways to spend time together. Keep getting to know each other. Most importantly, keep praying for each other. The enemy is real and wants nothing more than to destroy your marriage. Don’t be afraid to fall off the bike. God is growing you for the long distance. What are some creative ways you can get back on the bike and press on?