What do you do after the ceremony and the party are over? What do you do to guard your marriage? Your relationship with you best friend, your spouse? During our Sunday school class we have been watching a series called “Guardrails” by Andy Stanley. Guardrails, as he explains, are things to make you stop before you go off into the dangerous stuff on the other side. Just like the guardrails on the side of the road. This weeks lesson was about guardrails in your marriage (week 4). I never would have thought that being open about finances could be a guardrail, but now it makes sense. As we discussed various guardrails for your marriage, it occurred to me that Honey Bear and I put up a couple of guardrails early in our marriage without knowing it. I just knew that these little things that we do are important to me and they keep him close to my heart and my mind.
Before we even got married, as we were planning the wedding, Honey Bear put up the most important guardrail. I felt that the wedding was not just for me, it was about us. I wasn’t marrying myself, I was marrying him, so why should he be left out of the planning. Besides, I don’t like being the center of attention. Naturally, we disagreed on how much to spend on this or that. We were also buying our first house that closed the day before the wedding. Talk about stressful! We can’t seem to do things one at a time around here. Then one day he said something that completely changed how I view weddings and marriage. He said that it’s not about the wedding, it’s about the marriage and what happens when the ceremony is over. That may not sound like a guardrail, but it is. If you have no foundation upon which to build your marriage, then the wedding is just an excuse for a really expensive party and a dress that you only wear once. Ok, I confess, I have a few dresses that I have only worn once in my closet. Besides, the wedding is only one day. Your marriage should be a lifetime. And who wants to buy a new car just to drive it off a cliff a short while later. After that, we found a place that was all inclusive for our wedding. We went one day and picked out flowers, chose our menu and cake, and met with the photographer. I’m not super fussy so this was perfect for us. We paid one person and all we had to do was get dressed and show up. It was great! This allowed us to prepare for a lifetime together as a married couple instead of two co-habitants of a house that have matching rings.
Not long after we were married, I remember laying in bed thinking to myself that I wanted to marry him all over again. I wanted the ceremony, the dress, the cake, the whole shebang! But that can get expensive quick! Instead, I decided to just do the “I do” part. So I did. Every morning I marry my best friend, my partner, my calming force, my rock, my co-parent, my everything all over again. I say “I do” to everything. Every high and every low. Every. Single. Day. But it’s not just about me marrying Honey Bear, it’s about him marrying me too. It can’t be one sided. So every night, before we go to sleep, he asks me to marry him again tomorrow, and I always respond “In a heartbeat.” This is our nightly ritual and when we miss a night, and we have a few times, I feel less secure. But I still marry him anyway. Every single day.
But beyond the things that we made up for ourselves, we must include God. When we include Him in our marriage, we have a built-in marriage counselor that is always there, always listening, and always faithful to those who are faithful to him. I have not always included God in our marriage. I wasn’t a Christian when we married. I believed in God, I believed that Jesus died for our transgressions. I just never took the necessary steps to do it. I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do. But God has blessed us in more ways than I even know. And now we, I, include Him in the choices we make as a family.
“Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” Ecclesiastes 4:11-12
In the last few months I have started to read the Time-Warp Wife’s blog and started following Eye To Eye Enrichment Community on Facebook. Both of these sites are great Godly resources to help enrich your marriage and to help keep God and your spouse the center of your focus.
What guardrails do you have in your marriage?