For Ike and me, this weekend is all about celebrating marriage. Today we’ll attend the wedding of some friends in Memphis, and on Monday we’ll celebrate two years of marriage back in Chicago. This year I’m in charge of planning our anniversary and it’s a surprise, so more details later!
I love that our anniversary falls on the same weekend as a wedding this year, because weddings always remind me of my own vows and why I chose to marry Ike. On the drive down to Memphis yesterday, we spent some time reflecting on what we’ve learned over the last 2 years and how we’ve changed. We’ve had some truly remarkable adventures together all over the world, and the longer I’m married to him the more I am humbled by God’s sovereignty in bringing us together. We complement one another in ways I never could have anticipated. Two years later, I still thank God every day for Ike.
These two years have been a blast and a blessing, so you’re probably wondering about the title of this post. I know it’s a strange topic on the weekend of my anniversary, but I also believe there is a real connection between marriage counseling and the quality of our marriage.
Before Ike and I got married, we made the decision to see a marriage counselor as a form of “regular maintenance” on our marriage. One reason for this decision was Ike’s own experience as a child from a broken home. He knew very well the pain of divorce. Plus, we thought it foolish to assume ourselves immune to the high divorce rate in our culture. When one in two marriages fails today, how could we possibly play the odds by being passive?
So rather than wait for trouble to come, we decided to take a preventative approach to marriage. We care for our marriage in much the same way we care for our car–taking it in for occasional tune-ups so that we don’t find ourselves stranded on the side of the road one day with a blown transmission. It’s a lot easier to prevent a disaster than to fix it after the damage has been done
Ike and I also realized that if we waited until something was truly wrong in our marriage, we might be less likely to seek out a counselor. When you are hurt or angry with someone, you sometimes have less motivation to reach out and mend the relationship. You develop a destructive momentum that can be difficult to stop, and we wanted to intervene before that ball even got rolling.
So when we moved to Chicago we started seeing a marriage counselor once a month, and it’s one of the best decisions we’ve made for our marriage. The timing of our appointments has always been perfect–right when we needed an objective outsider for perspective, our counselor was there. And because we dealt with issues before they became ISSUES, we had not built up any significant walls to take down, which makes forgiveness and reconciliation significantly easier.
I won’t pretend to be a marriage expert with my all of two years of marriage and no children. I have no doubt Ike and I will face many difficult seasons ahead. However, I am convinced that our first two years have been as smooth as they have because we worked hard at our marriage. Good marriage is not something that happens as a result of mere chemistry but of discipline and personal investment.
So to those readers who are not yet married but would like to be one day, start having those conversations early. Not first date early, but before you get married early. If your boyfriend or fiancé is already resistant to the idea of seeking wisdom from a counselor or Christian community, then that is a concern to weigh carefully.
To close, the following verse from Proverbs 11:14 is a great nugget of wisdom for us married folks:
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
Although the context of this verse is different from marriage, the underlying principle is an important one. A successful marriage is not built in a vacuum. Whether or not you go to a marriage counselor, surround yourself with people who know what is going on in your marriage and can speak wisdom into it. Pray together. From the beginning, put preventative measures into place that will help center your marriage and hold you accountable.
And since this is only my second anniversary and that’s all the advice I can give, I would consider it an anniversary gift if some of you could share your own ideas for guarding your marriage and keeping it on the straight path. In the interest of listening to many advisers, I would love to hear from you!
How do you keep your marriage centered?