Love can be defined in myriad ways, but in marriage "I love you" really means "I promise to be there for you all of my days." It is a promise that says, "I'll be there when you lose your job, your health, your parents, your looks, your confidence, your friends." It's a promise that tells your partner, "I’ll build you up; I'll overlook your weaknesses; I'll forgive your mistakes; I’ll put your needs above my own; I'll stick by you even when the going gets tough."
This kind of assurance will hold you steady through all of life's ups and downs, through all the "better or worse" conditions.
Many couples assume that the excitement of their courtship will continue for the rest of their lives. That virtually never occurs! It is naive to expect two unique individuals to mesh together and to remain exhilarated throughout life.
Gears have rough edges that must be honed before they will work in concert. That honing process usually occurs in the first year or two of marriage. The foundation for all that is to follow is laid in those critical months. What often occurs at this time is a dramatic struggle for power in the relationship. Who will lead? Who will follow? Who will determine how the money is spent? Who will get his or her way in times of disagreement? Everything is up for grabs in the beginning, and the way these early decisions are made will set the stage for the future. If both partners come into the relationship prepared for battle, the foundation will begin to crumble.
The apostle Paul gave us the divine perspective on human relationships–not only in marriage, but in every dimension of life. He wrote, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).
That one verse contains more wisdom than most marriage manuals combined. If heeded, it could virtually eliminate divorce from the catalog of human experience–no small achievement, considering that more than one million marriages break apart in the United States every year. If you want yours to be different, I urge you to commit now to "sticking in there" during the newlywed phase, the middle years, and your golden age together.
Will your commitment hold you steady? If you want your marriage to last a lifetime, you must set your jaw and clench your fists. Make up your mind that nothing short of death will ever be permitted to come between the two of you. Nothing!
Marriage Without a Bailout Plan