By Kathy Pollard
Do you know that perfect married couple? They look happy together. They’re always holding hands and seem to have it all figured out. People look to them for advice. They’re the hashtag-relationship-goals of social media. I could name some couples that fall into this category for me. I’m grateful for their example of marital bliss, and their PDA posts make me smile.
Neal and I are not that perfect married couple. A superficial glimpse might make it appear that we are. We do hold hands. We do say nice things to and about each other on social media. We’ve been asked to teach the occasional marriage seminar. And so every now and then someone will remark on our relationship as being “exemplary” or some other thoughtful description. I thank them because I appreciate their kindness but inwardly I cringe and think, “Far from it.” We agree to teach about marriage because we can study what God’s Word has to say about it. After nearly 27 years together, we can share some lessons we’ve learned from experience (some of them the hard way). But we have had our own struggles and are still learning and growing, one year at a time. We’ve hurt each other and let each other down. As a wife, I’ve been guilty of lying, betraying, sulking, and manipulating. Some of those hurtful things I knew I was doing in the moment. Some of them I only realized later when I looked back over my behavior. Our marriage has had rocky times because of the pressures of trials. And our marriage has had rough patches because of the consequences of our own choices. We’ve had to practice forgiveness, patience, and grace. No, we are not that perfect married couple.
But we are a married couple and our God is perfect.
I’ve been reminded of this truth a couple of times this week. Take a look at these “perfect” couples.
I met this couple last night. They got married at ages 15 and 17, and have been married for 55 years. I asked them separately what has held them together for over half a century, especially since they started out so young. Without hesitating, each of them said, “God.” For them, it was as simple as that. When they were standing together again, I pointed out that they each gave the same one-word answer. She laughed and said, “Without God, I would’ve kicked him out a long time ago!” They went on to add other advice, like the importance of giving 100% instead of 50/50 (and making that determination each new day).
I met this couple two nights ago. They’ve been married for 67 years! It didn’t take long to figure out what has held them together. She told me their first date was at Mammoth Cave. He nodded and said, “I should’ve left her down there.” He shared their secret to commitment: “Divorce never crossed our minds. Murder did, once or twice, but divorce was never an option.” We all laughed and they looked at each other with a twinkle in their eyes that gave me a glimpse of the young couple they once were. I loved their sense of humor and strong faith (made obvious by supporting a gospel meeting on a weeknight). I imagine 67 years has given them a few stories of hardships and struggles but they are still together, still sharing some laughs, and still holding hands.
These are the real, perfect married couples. I don’t know them well enough to see beyond the superficial. But I do know that they’ve entrusted their marriages to their perfect God. How blessed we are to enjoy life together, find reasons to smile, and keep holding hands despite our imperfections!
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Eph. 3:20).