Remember that one part in your vows, “til death do us part”? You know, the part we all say? I wonder if any of us really grasped the weight of those words. As newlyweds, we look at that part of marriage as a far-off land in the very distant future. Something we don’t need to think about or concern ourselves with. After all, we just married the man of our dreams, what could possibly go wrong?
I’m new at this whole being a wife thing, but I have enough friends and family with failed marriages to know that death is not the only thing that can “do you part”. The enemy attacks marriage. Satan wants to destroy marriage and rip it apart. In fact, it’s an unfortunate statistic that divorce is right up there with death for ended marriages. That certainly comes from allowing something besides God to come in the middle of it all. We all go into marriage with no intention of divorce, at least I hope you did because if not, girl, WHY DID YOU GET MARRIED? I’ve said it myself, divorce is not an option. But I pray that each of us truly mean that.
It’s a heavy burden to promise to love someone until death, knowing that life is what happens in between. Life, with all its messiness and mistakes and ever-changing circumstances. My husband and I are not the same people we were at 22 years old, now almost 32. I have no idea who he and I will be at 42, 52, 82. We are created for growth and change, but in marriage we need to grow and change together, otherwise the only other option is apart.
So, what can we do now that will help us in our future? How do we make sure we even make it to the death part and don’t let any other thing be the reason our marriage comes to an end. We can put Jesus at the center of it all. Scripture tells us that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. Jesus is the missing piece that every marriage needs to stay un-broken. When we braid together ourselves, our husbands, and Jesus, our marriage is prepared for battle against all the attacks of the enemy.
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12.
Premarital counseling is where the battle plan started for us. It was step one to putting Jesus at the center of our marriage. Before we ever said “I do”, our pastor prepared us for marriage and what our roles and responsibilities would be to each other within marriage. What that commitment truly would demand of us. I tell all of my engaged friends how much fun and what a blessing premarital counseling was because I truly believe it is part of what best prepared my husband and I to enter into marriage. If you went through it yourself, you know what I’m talking about. But if you haven’t, just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t call up your pastor and ask them to walk you through that same counsel now. I think knowing what you’re entering into and being fully aware of the promises you’ve made to each other and God is essential.
But what about step two? You’re married now and life starts happening. Your circumstances aren’t what you hoped they’d be, your husband isn’t living up to his end of the deal? Maybe you just are disappointed from expectations simply not being met by reality. (I wrote about that). How do you face the hard parts and keep yourself committed to the part of your vows “til death do us part”?.
Start with all the other vows, like “for better or worse”. Yeah girl, you made that promise. So did he. You both committed to a life together in good times and in bad. So when it gets bad, you don’t get to run away with your tail between your legs crying that it isn’t fair. It’s exactly what we wives signed up for. Step two is honoring that promise and rising to the challenges that you’re faced with when you have to keep that promise. Step two is looking those “for worse” moments dead in the eye and telling them that you’re about to make them “for better” because God is on your side.
No one likes to talk about this, but those “for worse” moments, they don’t wait for 40 years of marriage to start happening. Heck, they don’t even wait 40 days. Whether it’s family drama, the come down from all the wedding planning, the pressure of next steps, a sudden change in plans or finances, life comes at you and it will keep coming at you.
In my first year of marriage my husband made under minimum wage in his career and I got injured on the job and had to take a major pay cut through workers comp salary while I recovered from my injuries. I spent more time away from my husband than together. As I am writing this chapter I am in bed recovering from surgery from those injuries while he is still half way across the world. Oh, and by the way, I love my husband dearly but he has this horrible habit of calling me before bed when he’s too tired to talk already so our communication during all of this has been less than stellar. Why am I telling you this? Because you need to know it’s okay for the hard stuff. And while I would love to write about how in financial hardship my husband got a pay raise, or was here brushing my hair and catering to my every need after surgery, that’s just not our reality. We are in the middle of a not really “for worse” season, but certainly not a “for better” season either. And you know what, that’s okay. It has to be okay. We promised each other it would be. We promised God.
“When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.” Ecclesiastes 5:4.
Have you and your husband already faced some hard stuff since that amazing wedding day where all was sunshine and rainbows and you were going to live happily ever after? Have you already have those moments of “this is marriage?? THIS is what I signed up for?”. What about already asking God to show up in your marriage and fix things either in your husband, yourself, or your circumstance? And how many other wives have told you, “yeah, me too” behind closed doors in confidence, while simultaneously posting on social media “two months married!! I love being a wife!” under some photo of date night that looks out of a movie scene. Yeah, me too.
It’s easy to take your marriage for granted or compare it to others. It’s easy to get lost in the world and let the schemes of the devil make their way in. But ladies, it’s our responsibility as wives to not allow that. We cannot allow comparing our marriage or our husbands to others to create resentment. We cannot allow the broken pieces to remain broken. We certainly cannot allow circumstance to change the way we love or serve as wives.
I think the part we forget about our vows, is that they are just that, vows. It is a promise we made, not just a script we read on our wedding day. At least, that’s what it should be. If you read the script, sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you also signed a lifetime contract. If we are to honor God in our marriages, we have to honor those vows and take our commitment to our husbands and our life with them seriously. We have to consider the weight of “til death do us part” and make a pact with God that death will be the only end to our marriages. It takes being intentional, turning to God when struggling, and a whole lot of prayer. It takes letting God in to fix the broken pieces, one by one, time after time. It takes trusting God to change the circumstances, and knowing that He can and He will. It takes patience, and kindness, and selflessness. It takes leaning more on God and His Word than our own husbands.
As wives we need to value that we even have our husbands, flaws and all. Even in the hard times and the times where we might want out, we have to be careful what we wish for. I know several women who actually did make it “til death” did them part, but it was at a young age, at a time they least expected it, and I know they would trade places with me and my messy parts of my marriage in a heartbeat. When it gets hard, instead of praying for a way out, we need to pray for a way in. A way in to our husbands perspectives, a way in to our husbands hearts, and a way in for God to come do the fighting for us. Before it’s too late and we are left wishing for a way back in.
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17.
Shortly after our wedding, I began adding my husband to all of my benefits provided to us by my employer. The typical health care plan, dental plan, vision care plan, stuff. Then I got to the page that asked me to fill out my beneficiaries. Okay, I got this, obviously my husband. It was weird to have to think about “if I die, who gets my possessions?”, but it didn’t hit me nearly as hard as what would be next. Life insurance. Taking out a policy that insures your loved ones won’t face financial burden if you pass away is both responsible and necessary, but this process forced me to consider something. What if we actually have to use this? What if God takes away my husband? No money in the world would be enough! I found myself filled with fear and anxiety. I mean, full on melt down, ugly crying, fear.
This was not something I wanted to think about. Who wants to think about what they would do if their husband dies? What a dark and scary place to go to. I mean sure, I said the words “til death do us part” but what I meant was “until we’re both 100 years old and die in each other’s arms, peacefully asleep like Allie and Noah in the Notebook”. I did not mean “if you die at a young age and I am left behind with an entire lifetime to keep living”. But that’s the thing, we don’t get to choose God’s timing for anything in our lives, including death.
I know, this is not what you, as a new wife, want to have to think about. I get it! Me either! But listen, part of trusting God is knowing that although His plans for us are good and full of hope for the future, it also means trusting Him in the valley, in the lion’s den, and in the grave. The truth is we don’t know when God will be done using us here on this earth and call us home to Him. We don’t know when that time will be for our husbands. And as helpless and out of control that can make us feel, there’s still something we can do to protect the men we vowed to love until that day comes. We can pray.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6.
I started praying over my husband’s life, that it would be long, and full of Gods goodness and grace, and that God would protect him and his body. I pray regularly that God bless us with a long lifetime together by each other’s sides. To be honest, I have fear. I pray for my marriage to be the kind that goes into old age and ends peacefully by each other’s sides. I long for that lifetime together as husband and wife. I pray against my fear of losing my husband and against the enemy who puts that fear in my heart. I pray for that lifetime together. That’s a prayer all wives can, and should, be praying. God hears those prayers, I can promise you that.
I know this because I got the text that no wife wants to get from her husband:
“Flight VA721. Lost cabin pressure, masks dropped, attempting to land”.
For forty five minutes I sat in my own seat on a different aircraft half way across the world wondering if my husband was alive. I went from sobbing the most awful tears to praying desperately back to sobbing. I begged God, do not take my husband away. My worst fear, yet something I never actually thought I would have to face, was now my reality. I was pleading with God for my husband’s life, to keep him safe and bring him home to me. And as my own plane landed I finally got the next text, “safe on the ground”. I let out a big THANK YOU GOD followed by more sobbing and what felt like finally coming back up for air after drowning. God answered my prayers, I have no doubts about that. But not only did He answer my prayers in those forty five minutes, He answered every prayer I ever prayed over my husband’s life and for his protection before that day.
My husband and I fly often. Before every flight either of us takes, I pray for protection for the aircraft, the crew, the passengers on board, and our own safety. I prayed this prayer over flight VA 721 before it even backed away from the gate, knowing my husband would be on that plane. I have prayed that prayer a million times and never thought to thank God at the end of those flights where nothing went wrong and we landed safely until the one time something did go wrong. I found out later that the plane not only lost cabin pressure, but it apparently dove about 20,000 feet out of the air. It is a miracle that the pilots were able to land it safely and that my husband is still here today. And while I thank God for that miracle, I learned the lesson that I need to thank Him for all of His protection on our lives, daily, even when we don’t see it as loud and clear as rescuing a plane plunging out of the sky.
That day taught me a few things. One, that God always hears and answers our prayers, even the ones we pray on repeat that maybe don’t even seem to matter. Two, that we might have to face our greatest fear one of these days. We need to cherish the time we have while we have it. Wives, we cannot take a moment with our husbands in this lifetime for granted. It is easy to do, I know I am guilty of that even now. I am grateful that my husband is alive and well. I have several friends who have not been as fortunate. The thing is, none of us ever think it can happen to us, but it can. And that is a reality that we must face head on and fully embrace. We need to be reminded that God does not promise eternity on earth, only in Heaven. We said until death do us part, but are we living in our marriages as though death is a certainty? Because although we don’t know when that time will come, it will inevitably come. Are we prepared? Are our husbands prepared? How can we possibly even prepare?
I don’t think anything can truly prepare us for death, or losing our life partner, but I do believe that knowing where you and your husband are going after this life can bring a little reminder that God truly does have plans of hope for your future, including in death. This is a conversation my husband and I have had several times, in fact during our premarital counseling with our pastor I cried to my husband that I needed to know that he was truly saved. My pastor had to calm me down and reassure me of my husband’s salvation, because I just take it that seriously. We all need to take it that seriously.
Have you taken the time to think about that? If you haven’t, sorry for bringing it up but also, you’re welcome. Have you talked with your husband about eternity in heaven as seriously as you’ve studied over your life insurance policies? There is not better life insurance than the assurance that you and your husband will be in Heaven with Jesus when your time here is done.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.” John 6:44.
Salvation is something that is heavy on my heart almost every day. The salvation of those I love is so important to me because I know it is their only way to Heaven. I know it is their only way to a Father and a throne. Between losing friends who were not yet saved and almost losing my husband, I have learned that there is such thing as too late when it comes to our salvation. Knowing for sure that my husband is saved is the greatest gift God has given me. Don’t worry, there’s testimony there too, and one of these days I’ll write it all down for you. But for now, just trust me.
Have the conversation about salvation. Share Jesus with everyone, most importantly the man you will spend your life with. We know the gate is narrow to Heaven, but so wide toward destruction. (Matthew 7:14). Let God into your marriage daily and ask Him to keep you there and keep your vows. Knowing that tomorrow is not promised, let us find our faith and stand firm and courageous in our need salvation today.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21.
A note from Jessica-
This post was written before a pandemic came crashing into our second year of marriage. This post was written in our first year of marriage. It was incredibly hard to write at the time, as the fear of losing my husband was still so fresh on my heart. Even more now, we are reminded that tomorrow is not promised here on earth for any of us. It is so important for us, as wives, to know the blessing God has given us through our marriage. It is even more important to understand the importance of salvation, both for us and our husbands. The security of eternity in Heaven with Jesus is such a gift.
God has since taken those trials, both large and small, and built our faith not just in Him, but in each other. God has helped us to not take a moment for granted by showing us what it can feel like to lose a moment, or more with one another. The peace I have found in knowing my husband will be with Jesus after this life is a peace beyond understanding. I pray that for you. I pray that for your marriage.