18th July 2019
On Monday, Deb and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We are so grateful to God for taking us—two people with very different personalities, backgrounds and interests—and making us one. We know that we are better people for the influence of the other.
The Office for National Statistics estimated in 2012 that 42% of marriages in England and Wales would end in divorce. This is a tragic statistic. How does young love, with all its hope and optimism, end in the heartbreak of broken promises and relational breakdown?
In their excellent book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller identify two apparently conflicting attitudes towards marriage in this modern era. On the one hand, there is an idealism about marriage, a belief that our potential spouse should be a ‘perfect’ partner, meet our every need, that they should ‘complete’ us. It’s an idea communicated in many romantic comedies—and fairy tales! But because such idealism is not reflected in actual experience, it is coupled with a deep pessimism, a belief that no marriage can or will last for long and divorce is almost inevitable. What a sad state of affairs! But Keller argues that a Christian view of marriage is very different and offers hope:
According to the bible, God devised marriage to reflect the saving love for us in Christ, to refine our character, to create stable human community for the birth and nurture of children, and to accomplish all this by bringing the complementary sexes into an enduring whole life union.” (The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller)
Over the years, Deb and I have found that our differences have tended to complement each other rather than cause tension. We are continually learning from each other, and together we have matured as people. We aim to do our best to serve and bless rather than demand and complain. That said, we continue to provoke each other to grow, even though it can be painful at times—as I heard someone say recently, growth is just another word for change!
As we look back over three decades of marriage, we are immensely grateful to God for His commitment to us, for the family we have built, and for the love and companionship our marriage provides. While on holiday last month enjoying an early celebration of our 30th anniversary, Deb and I read Making Marriage Beautiful by Dorothy Littell Greco, another book we would recommend. We often take the opportunity to read something together when on holiday, as part of our commitment to investing in our relationship. If you are married, why not consider reading a book with your spouse? No matter how many years you have been together, there is always more to learn.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.