Marriage is a celebration.  One of the privileges I enjoy as a pastor is to officiate them.  Family and friends gather to celebrate and encourage the couple as they begin their life together.  It’s a day filled with happiness, joy, hopes, and dreams.  Unfortunately, the road that leads to a happy marriage is long and not easily traveled.  Many couples become disillusioned when the journey gets rough and they opt out too soon.

My wife and I just celebrated 22 years of marriage.  Our journey began like many others.  It was a celebration filled with hopes and dreams of a bright future.  And like many others, the road has not always been easy to travel.  We’ve had our share of issues and problems along the way.  I’m far from knowing it all and I don’t claim to have “the answer”, but I have learned a few things.

I believe that most, if not all, problems in marriage can be traced back to one problem.  The deeper issue of our problems can be found in the following scripture:

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40 ESV)

Jesus’ response to the lawyer’s question gives us great insight in how we should live and interact with others, no matter what the relationship.

Focusing on ourselves is easy.  Shifting our focus to others is not easy.  The moment we begin to focus on our own desires and preferences is the moment we begin a journey that is treacherous.  But something incredible happens when we make the decision to focus on others, especially our spouse.  When we put the desires of others over our own, communication improves, anger diminishes, and resentment fades away.  This shift in perspective will lead you to enjoy your spouse and want to spend more time with them, however, it doesn’t happen overnight.  Life, relationships, and marriage will always have its struggles.  Follow the road that doesn’t end with you.  It will take your marriage on a journey that will fulfill your hopes and dreams.