Marriage Without Regret
I was happily married for 54 years. Here's why.
Edwin Cole is considered by many to be the father of the modern-day men's movement. He is president and founder of the Christian Men's Network and the author of Irresistible Husband (Watercolor Books).
by Edwin Louis Cole
For 54 years and 11 months, I stayed in love with Jesus and in love with my wife, Nancy. If there was any formula, pattern or plan that enabled our marriage to stay strong through the vicissitudes of life, made our marriage a success, and kept me faithful to her all those years, it would be these seven principles:
1: I learned to truly love Nancy, not just feel "in love" with her, when I learned to pray with her. Prayer produces intimacy. Because of our prayer life, even when I felt tempted, I could trust Nancy to pray with me.
Many a time I called her from a hotel room where I traveled, alone and lonely, and she prayed with me and for me. She was my accountability partner long before we'd heard of that.
Nancy was my prayer partner. We believed that the cross of Christ was sufficient to reconcile any difference that arose between us. "Take it to the cross" was our lifetime refrain.
2: I learned to appreciate Nancy rather than depreciate her. God inhabits the praises of His people, and I found that when I praised my wife, the Lord blessed it.
Ten years into our marriage, I began to call Nancy "The Loveliest Lady in the Land." When she went to be with the Lord on Dec. 7, 2000, people throughout the world knew her by that title.
Appreciating Nancy meant calling attention to her strengths and accomplishments, rather than any weaknesses or failures. What appreciates gains in value and what depreciates loses value. Nancy's value continually increased in my eyes.
3:We learned to practice the Bible injunction of "submitting one to another." Nancy's strength's made me look good-and vice versa. We both depended on the areas where the other was strong.
Among other things, Nancy had the mind for the checkbook, the household, the purchasing. My manhood wasn't threatened by recognizing her strengths. I appreciated her for them.
4: We watched our words. We made a pact that we would never talk negatively about people, including each other, in front of our children. When we argued, we attacked problems; we didn't demean each other.
5: We had a passion for the Lord and life. I was never the perfect man, husband or father. I was, as author Jim Eldredge says in his book, Wild at Heart. Nancy told me that one of the attractions she had for me was that life was never dull or boring.
6: We forgave each other. The forgiveness that Jesus talked about in John 20:21-23 was a process we practiced by the power of the Holy Spirit, as was repentance.
God taught me through His Word that a faithful man, if unfaithful, is faithful to repent. Once we repented to each other and forgave, it was never remembered again.
The Word says, "let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Eph. 4:26, KJV). So, we took whatever differences, issues or distresses we had and tried to resolve them before the sun went down, or at least before the sun came back up. We grew strong in marriage by resisting what tried to pull us apart. As we did, no root of bitterness could spring up, tempting us to believe that other people were better suited for us than we were for each other.
7: Years ago as I resisted temptation, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart this sentence: The torment of the temptation to sin is nothing to compare to the torment of the consequences of sin. Fidelity eliminates consequences. That is so true.
Nancy has been gone for more than a year now and my love for her has grown stronger, my appreciation is greater, since her passing. Even though I spent a lifetime trying my hardest to appreciate every good thing in her, I still find things every day that I overlooked. Thank God that is my only regret.
Our marriage became sweeter every year because it was lived in genuine Christian grace and love, and in the favor of God. A genuine wonder of discovery came from revelation of each other that deepened and ripened the affection, and gave depth to the relationship, making it ever more meaningful, enjoyable and special. For that, I have a great sense of gratitude to God for His gift of my wife's hand in marriage.
Fidelity is one great word. But its practice equals one great life.
Reprinted with permission from New Man, March/April 2002. ? Strang Communications Co., USA. All rights reserved. www.newmanmagazine.com