Some Valentines Day Marriage Advice
This past Sunday was Valentines Day, and so we asked two of our members, Rich and Helga Diggelmann, to share some insights on marriage and faith that they have learned from their forty four years together. They shared on Sunday morning at our in-person service, and it was so encouraging we wanted to make it available for others. Below are Helga’s comments (Rich doesn’t type!).
Looking back on almost 44 years together, there are two main areas where I feel I was most aware of needing Jesus in my marriage – how to live out my vows and how be a forgiver.
First, I wasn’t a Christian when we got married, but I believed that making a promise meant you should keep your word. When I promised to join with Rich till death us do part, I meant it. I remember telling him he better be nice to me, because he was stuck with me. The truth is, I wasn’t always nice to him. When disagreements arose, I had to find a way to work through it or fix it myself. And if I didn’t feel like being nice, I could just be a grouch until my anger died down. Which of course didn’t help matters much.
About 5 years into our marriage, I became a Christian. I learned God sees marriage as a covenant relationship, a binding agreement between believers. Since God seemed to expect me to keep my promise, it made me more determined to do so, but it seemed like a daunting task. And it is. Because I realized that the big promise of “I DO” is actually a collection of a whole host of smaller promises that we have to try and keep every day.
But one of the best things I learned is when the Lord calls us to do something, he equips us to do it, giving us courage, humility, a desire to be obedient, often the necessary words, and whatever else is required. Thank goodness individually and as a couple, we do not have to do marriage alone. The Lord is always there beside us. We just have to ask.
Second, the bible teaches much about forgiveness. Unforgiveness is contrary to who we are in Christ and damages our relationship with God.
Like all marriages, there are times when even Christians are not nice to each other, when one or the other spouse considers leaving, killing the other, never speaking to them again, etc! ? But Jesus wants us to forgive as many times as needed (Matt 18:21, 22), so it became important to me to figure out how to forgive, even, or maybe especially, when I didn’t feel like it.
I learned that forgiveness is not a feeling but an action, to be carried out in spite of feelings. Sometimes it takes a while to get over the hurt, but with prayer, repentance if necessary, and time, we can overcome with the Lord’s help. He never fails us, never leaves us, doesn’t threaten us, is always willing to talk to us and forgive us.
So am I the perfect spouse? Of course not. Like many Christians, we often try and do things in our own strength. And when that doesn’t work, we turn to the Lord. We have it backwards. Matthew 6:33 teaches we need to turn to the Lord first, then things will work out for the best.
Last, I was also asked to share what advice I would give to a newly married couple. I think many couples start their marriage believing it is their spouse’s job to make them happy. We set ourselves up for disappointment because when the first rough patch arrives, we realize our partner isn’t so perfect after all!
There is really only one thing that can make us truly happy, and that is a healthy relationship with the Lord through Jesus. We need to be happy in ourselves in order to bring our whole selves to the marriage.
So while you and your partner might be totally right for each other, you are not perfect for one another. Only God is your perfect partner. The Lord, plus 100% of you and 100% of your spouse is a good recipe for a healthy marriage.