When my husband and I were engaged, I felt like I needed to figure out how to have a perfect marriage before our life together even began. I read books and listened to advice and warily eyed the divorce rate statistics. Excitement sometimes turned to overwhelm as I realized all the ways we could burn the whole institution of marriage to a satin and lace crisp.
But God comforted and guided and nudged us along, and we moved forward despite our—mostly my—fears. Our wedding day came. When we saw each other right before the ceremony, we both admitted how our feet had been freezing the night before. (Turns out, having cold feet is a physiological reaction to anxiety as the body draws blood into the core in preparation for fight or flight. Thankfully, there was no fighting nor fleeing on our wedding day.)
So much emotion was wrapped up in that day, in that moment. With family surrounding us, we looked at each other across the altar and held hands as words were spoken that stitched our souls together.
Worries about the color of the tablecloths at the reception and whether cans would be tied to our car faded away as I realized I would have my husband forever. This is what it’s all about.
As he spoke, the man who performed the ceremony told us to imagine that Jesus’ hand was on top of ours. I looked down at our interlaced hands, young and shaky, and I could see it. I could see His scarred-palm hand on top of ours, as if to say, I’m here. I’m in this with you. I will never forget that image.
It was the moment our marriage became a love triangle.
Triangles are the strongest shapes on earth. They are everywhere in the man-made and natural world. Wherever there is architectural strength and stability—the homes where we live and the bridges we cross—there are triangles. Look at a majestic mountain and the trees that cover it and you will see triangles. They are strong because when pressure is applied to one side, the other sides absorb the pressure and prevent collapse.
Since our wedding day, this is how Jesus has worked in our marriage. My husband and I lean on each other, and we also lean on Him. He absorbs pressure better than anyone. And life can be so very heavy. At times, the pressure is coming on my side. Other times, it’s coming on my husband’s side. But we are never alone in holding each other up. We always have our base.
When things are hard, my mind anchors again on that image of His hand on top of ours, and I know we are not alone in this.
Thank heaven for that because building a life with someone takes more than human-level love and strength.
Of course, I can’t control what my husband does. He could decide to turn his back on God and become someone I can’t be married to. I could do the same to him. Inviting Jesus in doesn’t guarantee our marriage will be perfect or even that it will last. But He does give our marriage the greatest chance of success, and He gives our hearts the greatest safety net for any tragedy that may come our way.
There are so many factors that are important in marriage and so many experts who can tell you what those are—communication, trust, friendship, intimacy, service, kindness. But the amazing thing is that if you’re trying to be like Jesus, all of those fall into place. And even when you fail at being like Him, His grace comes to heal. It comes to say, “Hey, let’s try this again. Together.”
Jesus is teaching us how to be married, how to give and receive love as He does. Marriage was never meant to be a line. It was made to be a triangle. Because we are strongest when we are together.