Four years ago today, my big brother Dalton Chase took his last breath and went to his new home in heaven. Prior to this, we had numerous conversations about marriage. Today I stopped by to share one of those conversations with you but first, a little back story.
Barely Got Sick
Dalton was a 6ft tall, dark chocolate handsome man with a chiseled athletic build. He enjoyed working out and did so just about every day of the week. He also enjoyed playing his favorite sport soccer. The only time he ever had to be rushed to the hospital was when he injured his knee while playing soccer. Aside from that, he was a healthy, physically fit active man who barely, if ever got sick.
The Beginning Of The End
One day, clear out of left field, Dalton started feeling weak and his body felt very stiff. That was the beginning of the end. Lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyositis and other autoimmune diseases ate his body away from the inside out. At the end of his life, when he took his last breath, he was 6ft and 100 pounds; a far cry from his once chiseled frame.
Happily Ever After?
When Dalton married, neither he or his wife ever imagined this would be their reality. Like most couples, they expected to live happily ever after barring the normal everyday challenges. Dalton always said, the marital vows are what they are for a reason. “One of you will get sick. There will be times of richness and poorness and there will be times when things are wonderful and then going south. Do as much due diligence as you can while dating and courting to learn the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with and prepare for the journey ahead.” Here’s our conversation…
Me: So big brother, What would you say about marriage to a single woman desiring marriage?
Him: If two people come into marriage recognizing that it is not about me but about my spouse’s comfort and about service, this attitude paves a good road for the marital journey. At our core, we are basically selfish people – we think about what it is going to be like for me not what I can do for the other person. Marriage is service to each other. Its a reflection of Gods love for us. You minister to your spouse by serving him and looking out for his best interest.
You cannot live by your feelings in marriage, or in life for that matter. Your love for your spouse has to be an act of the will. You have to be a wife and husband doing what you have to do with love joyfully without grumbling and complaining.
Check your expectations. Men and women have unrealistic expectations about marriage and often enter into it wearing rose colored glasses. Take off the glasses and really look at the reality of your vows. What could they really mean? Can you handle in sickness and health for richer or poorer till death do you part? How does your fiances life evidence commitment and hanging in there when the going gets tough? Marriage is daily work and the majority of that work is on you not your spouse. We need to daily ask ourselves, How can I change? What do I need to do differently? How can I become a better spouse?
Me: How can a single person avoid bringing a singular attitude into marriage?
Him: Find opportunities to serve. When you are single, the only person you think about is you; what you like, what you want, what works for you, how you want it and so on and so forth. If you don’t find opportunities to serve others, chances are you will show up in marriage looking out for your own interests. There are many ways to serve. If you have no one to spend Thanksgiving with, go and serve the less fortunate. Whatever you do, make it your business to find opportunities to serve. I can’t emphasize this enough; cultivating a servant’s heart is key before saying I do. Marriage is all about service to your mate. Its about two people waking up daily with one question on their minds; “How may I serve you today?”
Find a marriage mentor. The older women should teach the younger women how to be wives. A single woman should place herself under the wings of an older woman who is married and has a good marriage so that she can learn how to be a godly wife to her husband.
Educate yourself about marriage. Although you haven’t experienced it yet, there is no reason to walk into it blindly. Read books about marriage. Attend a relationship class, workshop or seminar. There is an intensive class and process for obtaining your driver’s license but no such class exists for the most important commitment you will make in life. In most states, all you need is $25 to obtain a marriage license, a license that could change the lives of everyone around you for better or worse. We spend so much time preparing for careers and so many other things in life while we spend little to no time preparing for marriage.
In his book What Every Man Wants in a Woman, Pastor John Hagee agrees with Dalton. He says, Marriage is more than a honeymoon; it’s a lifetime covenant. Through sickness and health, for richer and for poorer, marriage requires devotion and a mature ability to commit when it’s the last thing you want to do. Marriage is the act of two incompatible people learning to become compatible via compassionate compromise.
Something to think about…
What say you? Have you ever had to deal with anything like this in your marriage? What advice would you give to a single person preparing for marriage?
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P.S. I wrote this post four years ago and I update it every year.