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Marriage: Counting the days or making every day count?

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

As Patty and I approach our 40th wedding anniversary this March, the matter of the passage of time and how we redeem that time increasingly comes into our awareness. In addition to a 40th wedding anniversary, we both turn 60, so we finally have hit “middle age”—no more denial!

We’ve been mercifully and graciously blessed by God to have the privilege of raising an awesome daughter and son, and now get to speak into the lives of our two grandsons. We’ve been able to travel extensively, serve our country in the Coast Guard, run businesses and nonprofits, participate in ministry at churches around the country, and now serve Jesus in leadership at Mars Hill Church. In short, the opportunities and roles God has allowed us to play in his story have been exciting, thrilling, and fulfilling.

All your days

In Psalm 90, a prayer of Moses, God had Moses writing about time and how quickly it passes—that a thousand years in God’s sight are like a watch in the night, like a dream. While we may have 70 or 80 more years, they are soon gone. Moses continues by praying, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. . . . Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (vv. 12, 14).

Patty and I have consumed many of these 70–80 years Moses spoke about, especially in light of the reality of time acceleration as one grows older. Like most, regrettably we’ve wasted days in petty fights, arguments, and disagreements mostly around our own selfish desires and unmet expectations. Those were the times when we were counting the days instead of making every day count.

This is key

We learned through these experiences that there are two primary keys to having the marriage that God designed for us: 1) Remember marriage is a covenantal (not a conditional contract) relationship where we unilaterally commit to the welfare, growth and development of each other regardless of the circumstances. 2) Understand and meet the most basic emotional needs that God instilled into the original design criteria; generally, men need respect, and women need love, safety, and security.

A covenant, not a proposition

Understanding marriage is a covenant means we embrace the Hebrew concept of hesed which means we look out for the interests of our spouse, and not our own. Each of us invests 100% into the relationship—it’s not a 50-50 proposition. Philippians 2:4 says this so well: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Meeting the emotional needs of your spouse can be tricky as many needs change as we age. But the innermost needs of men for respect and love, safety and security for women are static throughout every life stage. Living out Ephesians 5:33, “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband,” is a daily choice and opportunity to make every day count. Become a lifelong student of the things that meet or fulfill that need and your marriage will track with God’s design for it.

When we operate within God’s design and plan, we gain that heart of wisdom spoken of in the psalm. Our days are short—don’t waste them in conflict stemming from pettiness, selfishness, or laziness. Make every day count.

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