I met Mary in the summer of 1976. She was in the big, outdoor pool where I was a lifeguard (enough said). Our first date was a double date to an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. We saw each other at the pool and I went over to her parents’ home where we talked on the front porch after work. I took her out to breakfast before she left for graduate school. Mary and I became “official” boyfriend and girlfriend in the autumn that year. We were married in June of 1978.
A wise old pastor once told me, “We don’t get married because we are in love; we get married to learn how to love.” Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith and our love. He uses marriage to mature both people so that, eventually, the couple will love the way that He loves.
Mary and I entered marriage with the belief that we deserved to be made happy by marriage—that somehow we would “live happily ever after.” It would be like dating, only more fun. But here’s the truth we have learned: If we aim for happiness, we won’t get it—but if we aim for love, happiness will get thrown in.
I’ve often thought that while a wedding couple say their vows, God hears and thinks, “OK. I’ll give you a chance to fulfill those vows. Sometimes it will be worse and not better, poorer and not richer. You’ll have sickness and not health. Death may separate you two, but it won’t separate you from Me. I’m with you forever. In the meantime, you’ll learn to love each other more like I love you.”