I visited Mrs. Faudi in her hospital room. Because she was in the first bed of two I stood with my back to the door. Our brief conversation was low-key and pleasant, but suddenly she looked past me and her eyes lit up. I turned to see that her husband had just entered the room. It was obvious that love still glowed in their hearts.
The Faudis were retired farmers who had recently moved to town. Mrs. Faudi looked frail and ashen in her hospital bed. Each of them had weather-beaten skin reflecting long years of toil on the land. But in that exchange of looks, I saw a bright and loving bond not really dimmed after more than fifty years of marriage.
In our fallen world there is no guarantee that a Christian marriage such as the Faudis had will be everything God intended it to be. But recalling that moment in the hospital room makes me want to point out to young people some ways to greatly increase the likelihood of success.
I’m all for romance, so long as when pondering the suitability of a mate, young people understand that powerful physical attraction is not enough. There is a “rational” aspect to choosing a life partner that should not be neglected. For example, as starters, it should be asked: Do we share a common faith in Jesus Christ and is it genuine for both?
Sometimes it is discovered after it is too late that one of the two “got religion” just so the nuptial event would happen. On this specific matter, counsel may be necessary to help one or the other to see a peril hidden beneath the romantic spell. The Bible clearly warns against an “unequal yoke” (2 Cor. 6:14).
Here are questions you can explore: Do mature mutual friends approve? Is the love we profess unconditional? That is, do we intend from the depths of our beings to make this an until-death-us-do-part marriage? Do we have reservations we are holding out of sight? God has endowed his creatures with a capacity for profound commitment which, when held by both partners, gives a basis for working through all sorts of struggles and reverses that arise along the path.
And do we share basic values regarding money, child-rearing, commitment to family connections, and would we work well together? Have we talked those important issues through before an initial commitment is made? Do we share a common Christian lifestyle? Potentially troubling issues are sometimes in full view but are pencilled out in the run-up to a wedding.
Issues may be left unaddressed because of pre-wedding dreaminess or excitement, or busyness. For such reasons, a potential bride or groom might see unaddressed issues but say: “I’ll fix that when we’re married.” Or, “I’m going ahead with this wedding because this may be my last chance.” Or even, “I see some developing storm clouds but they will go away once we’re married.” Or, “Right now I have to think about a great wedding; I’ll think about a great marriage later.”
I’ve heard them all but sometimes too long after the marriage has been sealed and, in some cases, too late. Pastoral counselors or professional Christian counselors are available to help in such situations. Couples like the Faudis — and I’ve known a few of them across a lifetime — stand as a constant testimony that in the realm of matrimony God provides a love that can last a lifetime.
But the success of the search requires the exercise of both head and heart. The bond is rooted not only in the feelings but also in the will. This kind of marriage doesn’t just happen. In my experience, the most successful marriages in Christian circles are characterized by a deep and mutual faith in God, a romantic flair that makes the very countenance glow, unwavering commitment to each other, and a grounding in judgment that launches the enterprise thoughtfully and with integrity.
Photo credit: Milishor (via flickr.com)