Written By: Kassy Lansdown
We were a year apart in school, but I always noticed Brandon. That’s the way it goes in small towns. I really started paying attention to him, though, in middle school. He was captivating to my teenage eyes and had a slight reputation for being “wild.” My dad didn’t approve (at first), which made him even more enticing, and by the time we were 14 and 15, we were inseparable.
We never broke up during our 4 years of “dating”…if you can even call it that since we weren’t allowed to go on dates for the first year and a half. We got engaged in March when we were both 18 and married that December 18, 1999 when we were the ripe old age of 19. Oh yes…and we had it ALL figured out. I mean, honestly, we’d been together for 4 years. What else was there to know about each other? Right?!?!
There have been considerable ups and downs over the years, and yet there have also been just the mundane Tuesdays along the way. We’ve experienced having and rearing children together. We’ve served together in ministry for 20 years. We’ve moved SEVENTEEN times (Yes! You heard that right.), and struggled through a three year period of utter darkness and withdrawing from the Lord. Yet here we stand, 23 years later, in what I can truthfully proclaim is one of the most fulfilling seasons of our entire marriage.
Even though we’ve been married 23 years, I’m discovering daily that I have exceedingly more to learn about my husband and about my marriage. On the other hand, I do have a few things to share that I’ve learned along the way.
Marriage is hard but so worth it. Marriage is a legitimately sanctifying commitment. You learn more about yourself with your spouse than you ever could alone. Sin that you didn’t realize existed in you will rear its ugly head when you are living so closely with another sinner. You then have a judgment to make: do you kill the sin in you and endeavor to have fellowship with your spouse, or do you allow sin to drive a wedge between you?
Marriage thrusts you to the end of yourself and forces you to rely completely on God because let’s face it, living with the same person day after day and year after year is NOT effortless. Those slight quirks you noticed and adored before marriage are sometimes the same exact things that annoy you tremendously after marriage.
On the other hand, marriage is surprisingly worth the growing pains it causes. I feel exceedingly blessed to be living with not only my husband but my best friend. The happiest moments in my life have been times with Brandon, whether it be on a weekend getaway, drinking coffee together on the porch in the mornings, or laughing together as we recall amusing situations from over the years.
True love is not a feeling. It’s a choice. At first, the “feelings” we associate with love materialize very easily, but as days turn into years, “feelings” may subside. There might be days when you don’t FEEL as if you even like your spouse. If we depend on feelings to dictate our actions, marriage will never last. The Word tells us we can not bank on our feelings, and it says that our hearts are deceitful above all things. True and lasting love demands commitment and selflessness just as the Word states in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. The amazing thing about choosing to love someone through the good and the bad is that, in the long run, your love matures into something much deeper and truer than it could have ever been otherwise.
“Submit” and “obey” are not curse words. I know some of you ladies might cringe at the word submit. I’ve even known women who refuse to repeat these words during their wedding vows, but this pronouncement does not have to be a dreadful sentiment at all. We have been built and chosen, from the beginning of time, to be our husband’s helpmate. He is to provide for, protect, and lead us lovingly and completely. In marriage, “submit” and “obey” do NOT mean that you don’t get to express yourself or that you are not allowed to have an opinion. In fact, in my marriage, Brandon has divulged to me many times how much my opinion means and how influential I am to him. How this does factor in is that you allow him to lead, you let him provide, and if it comes down to a decision that you disagree on, you lovingly and willingly bend to his will. I know I can do this with Brandon because I am confident that he loves me and longs for the best for our family.
So what about husbands that are NOT keeping up their end of the bargain? They aren’t providing, protecting, or leading well. Submit anyway. In 1 Peter 2:3-5 scripture talks about the concept of being subject to your husband EVEN IF he is not loving you well. This passage communicates that your conduct can “win him without a word.” The greatest thing you can do in a situation like this is diligently pray and cheerfully obey God. He sees you and knows your situation and will work it out for your good and for His glory.
Loving ME like Christ loves the church is the harder command. I don’t know about you but sometimes (ok a lot of the time) I’m emotional, sassy, and stubborn. I get my pride bruised easily, and I want things my way. Brandon knows this and is gentle with me when he needs to be yet also delivers tough love when I need it the most. The way he shows me love the most is by pointing out the sin in my life and calling me to repentance. He is loving me appropriately in this situation because he is helping lead me back to being in the right fellowship with him and with the Lord.
The one thing that I have observed Brandon do the most is willingly laying down his own needs for my needs and the needs of our children. He is a hard worker and steadfast provider, and I know with all my heart that he would lay down his very life to save ours.
Honest communication is key…even when it hurts. Good communication is essential in a marriage, but even more, honest communication is critical. Brandon chooses his words wisely and carefully, and for this I’m genuinely thankful. Because of this, it helps me to avoid defensiveness (most of the time). I am able to take what he says to heart and determine if there is something I need to confess and repent of. Now I totally understand that there are times in marriage when you try to communicate, and it feels like you aren’t speaking the same language, but press into that. Keep communication open. Keep discussing and persist in honesty. There is a way to do this that will be better received (especially with a sensitive partner)…truth WITH kindness goes a long way.
Love your spouse more than you love your kids. I know, I know, this is a hard one, but let’s be honest. Kids grow up and move on in life. We are raising them to leave us. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. We need to show our kids what a solid, godly marriage looks like, and we do this by loving God first, then our spouse, and then our kids. I’ve heard far too many stories of marriages ending when the kids leave home because the husband and wife did not establish their marriage as THE priority. I want to still know, desire, and enjoy my husband’s company when my kids leave home. Loving Brandon first teaches my kids what marriage should be.
Our marriage has contained its share of joy and suffering. As a couple, we’ve brought two amazing children into the world, served in several churches, moved MANY times, and explored Eastern Europe together. We’ve suffered heartache as parents that no one should ever have to experience and traveled through a deep dark valley, as a couple, that we almost didn’t make it out of. But there is one thing I can definitely say about my husband. After all these years, I love him deeper and wider and more intensely now than I ever have. He is a joy in my life. He is my spiritual leader. He is my very best friend.
I hope you find encouragement in these words. I’ve been there…I am there…I will continue to be there…right where you are in your marriage. Take heart my friend. God redeems all things…including marriage.