We knew each other for 19 years before we said yes to each other.
We were 5 and 7 years old when we first met. For many years we were like brother and sister until the day we realized that we loved each other so much that we never wanted to be separated again.
Today, looking back over the past nine years of walking together, we can see beautiful green valleys, but also moments when we passed through a dry and stony desert.
A family can be a haven of love, happiness, and intimacy, where the character and self-esteem of spouses and children can develop in a safe environment. Yet for others, the mere mention of the word “family” can cause fear, rage, or sorrow because of painful experiences.
Marriage is one of God’s original gifts—given in the Garden of Eden—that He has preserved throughout the ages. God created this loving companionship to give us a sense of belonging and joy. It serves also as a teaching tool to help us understand God’s unconditional love toward us. God wanted Adam to be happy and fulfilled, so He created a counterpart (Gen. 2:18-21). When Adam woke up from his Friday afternoon nap, he was absolutely sure that the woman in front of him belonged to him. Seeing the woman the first time, he exclaimed: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23).
On that Friday afternoon of Creation week began the first love story.
When we try to portray the first days Adam and Eve spent together as they enjoyed the creatures, discovered new places, and explored the beauty of creation, we can imagine how happy and thankful they must have been. Ellen White describes these glorious moments fittingly: “The holy pair united with them [the birds] and raised their voices in harmonious songs of love, praise, and adoration to the Father and His dear Son for the tokens of love which surrounded them. They recognized the order and harmony of creation, which spoke of wisdom and knowledge that were infinite.”1
We don’t know how long Adam and Eve were in that beautiful garden before sin entered this world. It not only affected their relationship with God—it also shook their marriage. Yes, they enjoyed perfect love; yet right after they had sinned, Adam accused both God and Eve (Gen. 3:12).
Both Adam and Eve tried to protect themselves at the expense of the other. Their self-interest gives evidence of the crisis that occurred at that moment in their relationship.
Since then, we face similar challenges in our marriages because many times we focus on ourselves instead of gratefully putting the other ahead of ourselves. The number of divorces are skyrocketing all around the world. Adultery has become the new “normal” in today’s society. And yet there is Jesus’ explicit statement in Matthew 19:6 reminding us of God’s original plan: “What God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Note this important commentary by Ellen White: “Though difficulties, perplexities, and discouragements may arise, let neither husband nor wife harbor the thought that their union is a mistake or a disappointment.”2 Many people are thrilled when they find “the love of their life,” but forget that marriage requires a true partnership and the willingness to give, take, and work on the relationship.
Wedding bells are ringing, everything is in place; the audience is waiting for the bride and groom to walk down the aisle. The music starts playing. A sermon full of biblical advice completes the ceremony, and a man and a woman are finally declared husband and wife.
In Ecclesiastes 4:12 we find the concept of the “cord of three strands,” and we love to use this text for weddings. It emphasizes the important principle of sticking together and not separating from each other. It can be applied to God as well as to spouses. When we learn to live this principle in our daily life, our families will become a place of true happiness, understanding, and safety.
French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry once said: “To love is not to look at one another: it is to look, together, in the same direction.” This advice is rather important to us. Amos 3:3 hints at the same principle: “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Of course we love the beauty of our spouse; we cherish their keen intellect or kind spirit; but it is similarly important to look at the objectives for the future, to have similar values and motives, and to share the same faith (Deut. 7:3, 4).
Today life is keeping us very busy. Work, hobbies, household, kids, and many appointments overwhelm us so that we find ourselves running from one event to the next—with almost no break to take a deep breath. But if we’ve agreed to walk with God, we also need to find the time to talk with God. We remember hearing a pastor saying: “People who pray together stay together!” There was a time we were both so busy with our jobs that our conversations contained only the necessary information needed to run the family. We realized that we needed to pause and find some time together, during which we could talk about what had touched our hearts throughout the day. We shared our struggles and joys and brought them before God. In this time of reflection and prayer we learned to listen to each other and were refreshed by God. We learned to seek for qualities in our spouse’s character and began to forgive each other. Sometimes we hurt our spouse or get hurt by them. But Ephesians 4:26 gives an excellent counsel for every marriage: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (NIV).3 Before we go to bed we should ask for forgiveness. Our sleep will be sound and the start of the new day will not be clouded, but bright and beautiful. The way we treat each other will be a great example for our kids and the people who live around us. There is an Italian saying: “la vita è bella”—“life is beautiful.” And we would like to add “il matrimonio è bello”—“marriage is beautiful.”
After all, love is not only a feeling—it is a principle. “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4, NIV).
1 Ellen G. White, The Story of Redemption (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1947), p. 22.
2 Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1952), p. 106.
3 Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
At the writing of this article David and Doris Lumpi served together with their daughters Lorna Joy and Lina Grace at Asia-Pacific International University, Thailand. They have now returned home to Austria.
This article originally appeared in Adventist World in the September, 2012 issue.