My wife and I recently celebrated 22 years of marriage and I want my kids to know why. First, their grandfather was my first example of a committed marriage. He not only went to Korea after the Korean War to marry and bring back my Mom but brought their children over to the US. He stayed with my Mom even through very turbulent times in our family and was with her until she passed. I want my children to see that same level of commitment in me.
My marriage was worth waiting for. Contrary to many popular movies, TV, and tabloid articles, my strategy for finding my life mate was not to “hook up” first, try out “the goods”, and then see if I wanted to get married. My approach was to practice self-control and self-discipline and to learn about her social, intellectual, and spiritual beauty while admiring my bride-to-be’s physical beauty. I was more interested in having a wife that I was going to be loyal to and having someone that would be loyal to me. My Mom used to say that I should find a wife that was not only pretty on the outside but also someone who had a pretty heart. My message to my kids is you are worth the wait and your future mate should respect and value you more than anyone else.
My marriage was ordained and destined by God. I remember when I was in college and dating friends, Pastor Barbee, counseled me to make finding my wife a focus of prayer. I prayed and asked God to help me find a spouse that He knew would be best for me. And I waited and searched. I’m proud to say I found her at Paseo Baptist Church and my heart went “pitter patter” the first time I saw her. (You can read in my book how I almost missed and messed up this opportunity).
The first few years our personalities took awhile to mesh and I still had to mature when relating to her but she was patient with me. I think things could have been smoother if I had not been so selfish and self-centered. If only I would have been a better listener. And if I would have been better aware of her emotions and feelings as well as managed my own. But the process of deepening our love by staying committed to one another was the best. We decided that d-i-v-o-r-c-e would not even be in our joke vocabulary. It’s never an option and never will be by God’s grace.
There will be many tests of marriage, internal and external. I’ve learned to flee thoughts that would try to get me to think that the grass is greener on the other side. Why? Because as a wise person once said, that grass has weeds and needs to be mowed and watered too so why not just take care of your own. There is something that’s somewhat mystical and magical about how a marriage partner becomes the most beautiful person in the world if that exclusive heart commitment is guarded. That’s how I see my wife. She’s a part of me and we are one body. Why would I ever want to give up a part of me
that I love and cherish?
One commitment I made when I got married was to never let my career take precedence over my marriage. One of my mottos is that I would rather fail in my career than to fail in my marriage and family. I am humbled when I see “successful” men who have fame, fortune, or power fail in their marriages because I know except for the grace of God their goes I.
At the same time, I want to cultivate my marriage and date my wife regularly. That’s why even early in our marriage when our kids were young we either took them on our dates or found babysitters we could trust. That’s why even today we try to go out on a date once a week and spend time each day talking and being together. I owe all of my success to my wife because of her support and counsel to me. And I’m committed to protecting, providing for, and nurturing her continued growth and health spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically.
I’m not a wine drinker but I have heard that fine wine gets better with age and that’s how I would describe my wife and our relationship. I see why God has designed marriage to be between a man and a women to be committed for a lifetime. I would not be able to enjoy the depths of our emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, and physical love without the the exclusive, intimate relationship of one person I am married to. And so far, every dimension, even the physical aspect, has gotten more enjoyable and fun through these 22 years. And our love has just begun.
Andrew B. Williams,Ph.D., is the author of Out of the Box: Building Robots, Transforming lives and is married to Anitra Williams and they have three children.