Married in High School – One Year Later: Why Marriage Matters Most –
Of course, you know, if you’ve been hanging around here for a while, my oldest daughter was married while still in high school. We’ve covered a lot of the events leading up to the wedding, and we’ve covered the strange controversy it created locally with people who really had no business in the matter. However, there are a couple of areas we still haven’t covered.
Can you believe it’s been a year since the wedding?
After the wedding, the rest of their senior year was such a flurry of activity, there was barely time to sit down a catch a breathe. Shortly after the wedding, my mother-in-law went in for a liver surgery from which she never awoke, but there were weeks of driving back and forth to the hospital and then a funeral. Then we went straight to graduation parties and graduation, then college orientation, and so on.
And just like that, it’s been a year, and yet embarrassingly, the wedding Thank Yous are still sitting next to the TV in our family room. They’ve been sitting there for months already written, labeled, sealed, and with stamps on the envelopes, but they were stalled at the getting addresses part.
Since we delivered most of the invitations by hand, we never had a solid address list. The few addresses I had gathered were in my phone when it crashed, so the Thank Yous have been waiting for addresses for a shamefully long time. They were lost for a few months because this house is always disorganized, but I found them again. I’m forcing myself to dig through my office and my scattered Christmas card lists this week until I have all the addresses I need because a year is way too long for those to sit there undelivered.
The couple finished the Fall semester with great grades as usual, and in just a few short weeks they will have finished the year. They recently bought a truck to pull the previously mentioned camper.
Not much has happened with the camper since the last report because it’s been too cold to make much progress. It’s the end of March, and Indiana is still threatening us with several inches of snow every few days.
One of the topics I kept meaning to discuss in other posts was spiritual discernment. We’ve already established in Married in High School: Celebrating Six Months that it wasn’t until several months after the wedding that we even asked our daughter why she wanted to get married at 18. We were married at 18, so it seemed normal enough to us.
For us, the question wasn’t when they should or should not be getting married. The timing was sort of a non-issue by that point. The only real question for us was whether or not she should be in a relationship with this person in the first place, and if he wasn’t someone she should be marrying, then she definitely shouldn’t still be in the relationship with him anyway. But if he was someone she should be marrying, then wanting to get married sooner rather than later was perfectly reasonable and in many ways preferable.
Do we believe these two are soulmates who have found each other and are destined to live happily ever after like some Hollywood chick flick? NO! Hollywood’s notion of absolutely everything about relationships is completely screwed up, and you should never base your life choices on any notion put in your head by pop culture.
You don’t randomly bump into this one perfect person by chance and then go riding off on a magic carpet to some dream world. We live in the actual real world. If you want to have a good marriage, you choose a good spouse who is well-suited to you, and then you build a good marriage with that person. Nothing there is left to chance, and nothing great just happens without constant and consistent effort.
The concept of soulmates really takes all personal responsibility and spiritual discernment out of the equation, and that mindset sets people up for failure. It turns love into some sort of chance emotion that can be here one day and gone tomorrow instead of a personal choice we must make each and every day.
Although I completely reject the Hollywood concept of soulmates, I think we all realize there are some couples who just click from the moment they meet – couples whose hearts are drawn to one another, and that, I believe, is often spiritual discernment. Some people call that a sixth sense, intuition, or a hunch. Most likely, for a believer, it’s a gentle leading of the Holy Spirit.
From the beginning, it was clear these two were very equally yoked. I know many consider the term only in referring to a believer not being yoked to an unbeliever, but I often think people would save themselves a lot of heartache and conflict in relationships if they would seek out a spouse with similar political and philosophical beliefs as well. Differing political views would certainly get really sticky when it comes to trying to raise children together. It’s just good to be on the same page when it comes to values and belief systems.
What Makes Them Different
They’re odd, and people know they are odd. For one they were willing to make their relationship with each other a priority to a level that is practically unheard of for people their age today. While still in high school, they were willing to take each step forward, walking together, doing whatever it took to build a future. That level of commitment, that willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of the relationship, and that placing of the relationship as the highest priority is exactly what a great marriage requires. If they continue that effort, they should have no problem achieving decades of marital bliss.
This made them very polarizing though. Some people loved them for it and thought it was sweet, while others were completely repulsed by it. Some people just could not accept that level of commitment from teenagers, even though many people are here today as a result of ancestors who likely made a lasting marriage commitment at a similar age.
Couples are best when they make each other better. When their strengths and weaknesses complement each other in a way that makes them better as a whole, it fills the gaps and provides balance to a household. The whole is bigger than the sum of the individual parts, and couples like this tend to instantly want to spend all their time together because they each know they are a better version of themselves with the other at their side.
These two have that going for them to an extreme level. From very early, one of the first times I saw them together, it was apparent they have this sort of anointing on them as a couple. Whatever anointing they might have on them individually, it is so much brighter on them together, almost to the point that it becomes visible to the human eye sometimes. You can occasionally catch a glimpse of the glow.
I don’t know what that means for them. I don’t know where that anointing is supposed to take them, and I don’t even think they are consciously aware of it, but I know whatever purpose God has for them, whatever they are called to do, it is together. To be quite honest, sometimes I find that absolutely terrifying because I know it means they are a marriage that Satan would like to destroy (but I suppose that is true of all marriages). I know they can never let down their guard for even a minute and must constantly be covered with prayer and the Word. There is no room for complacency for them, not even for a second because Satan would like nothing more than to break that anointing because marriage matters most.
Marriage Matters Most
There’s a constant attack on marriage in this world, in this country, in the church because marriage matters. Marriage was created to be the truest picture we have on this earth of Christ’s relationship with the church. This image is offered to us in Ephesians 5. Marriage is constantly under attack because marriage matters most.
Your education is not a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church. Your career is not the picture of Christ’s relationship with the church. Your hobbies, your community service, and your friendships are not the picture of Christ’s relationship with the church. All of those outside factors are really only of value to you if they somehow enrich your marriage. Only your marriage is the offered as the portrait of Christ’s relationship with the church.
Marriage is foundational to the stability of the family and thereby the stability of society, as well as the church. If marriage is destroyed and perverted into something other than Christ’s perfect love for the church, the world sees not only marriage as a sham, but the world then considers Christ’s love a fraud as well.
So how do we guard against the constant attacks on marriage?
The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. – John 10:10
Life More Abundantly
Christ offers us life more abundantly, but we must follow his lead. The effort in marriage is up to us. We make the decision daily to “die to self” in putting the needs and wants of we above the needs of just me.
Marriages don’t generally die as a result of one huge catastrophic event. Marriages die because one spouse or both stop making effort. Marriages are destroyed by the tiny choices, the tiny gestures that send a message that a spouse is no longer #1. It’s the tiny gestures that say, “I care only about me and my desires and my needs and my wants and my interests.” Marriages die when what is hurting the heart of one spouse becomes invisible to the other.
But shouldn’t God be #1, you ask?
Matthew Jacobson of FAITHFUL MAN speaks on this topic way better than I ever could. In his article Why Your Wife Will Never Accept a Substitute for Your Heart, Jacobson states:
And, if you’re a Christian husband, spare me the righteous protest, “Oh, but God’s first!” Because, if God was really first, you’d do what He said. And in His Word, He made it clear to those claiming to be Christians – The way Jesus loves the Church is the way God wants you to love your bride (read – re-read – Ephesians 5). So, how are you doing with that?
Jacobson speaks to husbands because that’s his ministry, but ladies, it’s not just husbands who fail to make their marriage a priority. We all need to read Jacobson’s whole article. Marriages don’t just die in a day. Sometimes they end in a catastrophic event that forces the issue, but there are always small choices by one, the other, or both that led up to that catastrophic fail. Catastrophic events happen because one or both stop choosing each other in the small matters, and their hearts gradually move away from one another.
People don’t drift together. They drift apart! Without a constant effort to row towards our spouse, without a constant effort to make our marriage a priority, to spend time together, to enjoy each other, to worship Christ together, we will drift in the direction of every selfish whim. Our spouses deserve more than what’s left over at the end of the day after the stresses of our jobs and our other responsibilities. Our spouses deserve more than neglect and complacency because we’re just too tired, too stressed, or too overwhelmed. Our spouses deserve more than to be treated like just one more burden and obligation in our life. Our spouses should be appreciated and valued. Our spouses and our family should be where we give the best of ourselves, not just the leftovers.
Great marriages don’t happen by chance or accident. They happen because two people make a constant and consistent effort to do what is best for the marriage above all else. Next to salvation, marriage is the greatest gift God has to offer us, but we will never experience that fulfillment if our marriage is just a footnote in the story of our life instead of the title.
What do you do to prevent the creep of complacency in your marriage? Let us know in the comments!
You’ll probably want to read about the time My Teenage Daughter’s Wedding Almost Caused My Own Divorce as well.
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