Here’s a post from Ray Ortlund, lead pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Even though it is addressed to men, I’m a bit nostalgic today and with a few pronoun changes it works for me as I remember the husband of my youth.
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“Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” a
It does not say, “Rejoice in your young wife,” though that is biblical and delightful. b It says, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth” — that girl you married when you both were younger. By now, time has gone by. Maybe a lot of time. But nothing important has changed. She is still that girl who gave herself to you on your wedding day. She put herself in your arms. She could not have been more vulnerable and trusting. Remember that. Dwell on that. Marvel at that.
Remember how you used to laugh and have fun, because you so liked each other? You can have that again. Go back there. Yes, so much in life has changed. You both have seen trouble and sorrow, maybe more than you ever dreamed you would. But you still have her, and she counts for more than all the troubles in the world. Look at her. Look closely. Notice how much about her has not changed. Dwell on that. Think about her faithfulness to you through the years, despite your weaknesses and failings, through the many hardships, all by the grace of God. Meditate on the divine mercy she represents to you. Let your heart melt again, and rejoice in God and in her.
Your marriage is not a prison, and you have not received a death sentence — except to your selfishness. Your marriage can be a God-given source of rejoicing. How wonderful of God that release from shallow Self is a pathway into ever deeper joy with her, as long as you both shall live.
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Ladies, besides recalling the things that made you fall in love with your husband, it has been suggested by at least one author that we take stolen opportunities to really look at our husbands now and again. Find a vantage point unbeknownst to him and try to use fresh eyes to really look at him. [For some reason I remember this author suggesting to observe our husband’s hands as a window to the younger man we married years ago.]
With a bit of creativity, Dr. Ortlund can remind us women, too, that nothing important has changed. He is still that boy who did all those funny, kind, sometimes crazy, things to make you love him—and it worked! He is still the same boy who caused you to see life with him as better than life without him and to joyfully tie your fate to his—“all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay and follow thee my lord throughout the world.” c
Remember that. Dwell on that. Marvel at that.
And Dana…I still would and do (including “plight thee my trough”).
c Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet: Act 2, Scene 2 (Juliet to Romeo).