A few months ago, I bought some waterproof mascara. Our son is getting married to his high school sweetheart this Friday, on the fifth anniversary of his asking her to be his girlfriend. It will be a joyful celebration of young love, and I wanted to be ready for the tears. But I opened up the mascara and put it on before church this Sunday, aware that the sermon at c|Life was going to be about marriage, and that my husband and I would be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary the next day. I was pretty sure there were going to be waterworks. There were.

I love marriage. My husband, David, and I have had moments that have been challenging, like any two people in any kind of relationship. But as we reflect on our own now-getting-lengthy marriage, we agree that it has been good, really good. We’re grateful to be married, and to be married to each other. During our lives together, we have faced some hard times: the illnesses and deaths of six parents (why there were so many parents is another wonderful story for another day), illness, multiple moves and challenges related to parenting. We’ve made mistakes and had some great successes. But, at the end of the day, there have been some very basic principles that have made us conclude that though having a rich and fulfilling marriage — like having a rich and fulfilling life — may not always be easy, it’s also, to quote my husband, “not that complicated.”

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
— Philippians 2:1–4

David and I are very different in terms of our natural interests, but we share a mutual love of the Lord, and we take very seriously the character traits taught and modeled throughout scripture. It’s not that we won’t always be learning and growing, but as we both make every effort to live with the interests of the other being primary, we each have received abundant love and have plenty to give the other. Our focus on each other has made this New Hampshire girl invest in becoming an avid Iowa Hawkeye and NASCAR fan, and has motivated that classic rock and country music guy to surprise me with tickets to hear the London Symphony play my all-time favorite violin concerto… in London. And probably more importantly, it has made him do the dishes when I’m tired, and me rub his feet when work has worn him out. Selfless love, modeled by Christ and lived out by two committed people, can make marriage the best experience in life.

If you struggle to think this kind of marriage could be for you, you must realize that the entirety of what Christ came to teach and give is for every person alive. I pray that you will commit to making your spouse the most important person in your life as you follow the Lord’s selfless example of love. It is the prayer that I will be praying for our son and his new wife in just a few days, as tears of joy and hope flood through my waterproof mascara.