Whenever Valentine’s Day approaches, I almost have to laugh at myself because we are so bad about celebrating it. We completely bypass the flowers, the gifts, the eating out, and usually coop ourselves up inside- away from all the romantic hullabaloo around us.
But that’s not to say that we aren’t romantic. We just don’t frequently express it in the conventional ways. But even if Valentine’s day doesn’t make me starry eyed for roses and heart pendants, it does make me reflect on my gratitude for the man who is my husband.
One aspect of marriage that has been particularly impressed upon me recently is the beauty of faithfulness. I am blessed to have a husband who I trust 100% to be faithful in our marriage.
By marital faithfulness, I don’t mean simply not cheating or merely sticking it out. Rather, I like to think of it as a rich, complex, and rewarding journey of daily building into your marriage. My goal in this post is not to give a sermon on every minute aspect of fidelity, but rather to focus on three ideas that have helped to paint our portrait of faithfulness.
1) Doing right by one another. We’ve found that being faithful to each other is more than just putting up with each other- it’s also constantly choosing to treat each other well. Our duty is to work towards this end, even when we really don’t feel like it. We must strive to help and serve one another, think of the other as more important than oneself, and speak with kindness, humility, and grace. We must remind ourselves of what real love requires of us (1 Corinthians 13), especially when it is most difficult to do so.
It seems that far too often in marriage, the old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt” comes to fruition. It shouldn’t be so. As we become more familiar, we should continue to choose to do right by one another faithfully- out of love, respect, patience- and simply because it is a good thing to do for another human. (Particularly one with whom you have made a binding covenant.)
(Thanks to Bryan of Icarus Image for this awesomeness.)
2) Being content with one another. Faithfulness to one another is nurtured when you choose to find all your satisfaction in your husband or wife. If I grumble about my husband to my friends, sigh over his annoying habits, or pine after imaginary perfect men, I feed my own discontent and validate inclinations to wander away. If I purposefully remind myself of all the good in my husband, speak well of him, and choose to continually renew my joy in having him, I feed my contentment and strengthen my fidelity to him.
Either we can spend all our time being unhappy with our spouses, or we can choose to be happy with them- and the likelihood is that the more you find things to be happy about, the more the happiness and satisfaction multiplies. Why feed misery when you can feed contentment in each other?
3) Remembering our vows.
To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.
For better, for worse. Not only when things are going well. For richer, for poorer. It doesn’t matter whether or not I am happy with how much money we have. In sickness and health. It’s hard to care for someone in sickness… And yet, I pledged my troth (my loyalty).
How quickly we forget.
Faithfulness also means remembering the vows we took on our wedding day, and striving to live up to them every day- even when we fail.
Are we perfect? Heavens, no. But by God’s grace I have been happily married six and a half years. And I am incredibly thankful for this journey of faithfulness that we have been walking together.
Ten years ago around this time of year, I met you. Jenny introduced us. She called you “her freshman.” You were polite, smiling, quiet. I was boisterous and overwhelming and showed you my striped knee-high socks. We tried to get you to come to the cafe to come do homework with us, but you declined. I knew you as the trumpet player on the stage, the reserved kid who worked stock in the college kitchen, the one who was hard to get to come out for anything.
But gradually, you began to spend time with us. You became the friend who played guitar in the basement of the music department. The one who practiced his horn daily. The responsible guy who put his paychecks directly on his school bill instead of blowing them on lattes. Every once in a while, though, we managed to convince you to come to a coffee shop with us.
Over time, though, your friendship spilled into my life and saturated my days. We began sitting next to each other in class. And then we started writing notes, like most kids fresh out of high school did at the time. We explored new places together. We would take your guitar to the city and play for pocket change. We would sing together frequently, often recalling lines of certain songs that were pertinent to the situation we found ourselves in. We talked for hours- on the phone, in the Jeep, in the music building, anywhere we went.
That summer, I met your parents. We would meet each other halfway between our two houses to get ice cream, go antiquing, or take hikes. You drove into town for my birthday. Finally, that next fall, we bought tickets to see a Bright Eyes concert together. A couple days before the concert, I asked you what we already knew:
“So, do you wanna make this an official date, or not?”
“Well, I was going to ask you the same thing…”
And so it was. We went to that concert “officially” together (even though we both knew we were really already together way before that). And for the next three years, we did everything else together too. Our relationship had serious ups and downs- it went through its share of indie film moments, its euphoric, twitterpated romantic phases, and also some very dark days- but we always reconciled with one another, each of us always believing that the other wanted to work towards the Good. And it was that wanting- that desire to do right by each other and by God- that was our glue through some of our toughest moments.
All of it really did gradually turn for good. We grew as individuals, and we grew together too. There’s not room enough to tell the whole story now, but what started with a friendship was tested, strengthened, and grown into a resilient and steadfast love.
And after almost three years of togetherness, it all culminated into one day that was not an ending, but a new beginning.
We celebrate six years of marriage tomorrow. You have stayed by my side in a tiny basement apartment, a farmhouse, a trailer, and now our own home. You have encouraged me in singing and teaching. You actively supported me through two pregnancies and births. You have been a present father to our children. You have seen me in all forms- from cheerful and successful to sobbing wreck, from calm and thoughtful to bitter and nasty- and yet you have stayed faithful, patient, giving and forgiving.
I love your thoughtfulness and consideration. I love how you give of yourself without asking for anything in return. I’m so glad that you try to think of the best in people and that you are slow to make assumptions. I’m happy you are humble, trustworthy, hardworking, kind. You have a rare persistence that I have yet to see in anyone else. You are so good to us as a family, and I couldn’t ask for a better companion.
I love you more today than I did six years ago, and I know that as life goes on, I will only love you more. Here’s to our six years, and many more to come.