Audrey and I met unexpectedly on January 16, 2010. Under a brick archway, she opened the door, and I saw her for the first time, speckled with mud and sweat, shimmering in the glow of the streetlight. Our love story began in that doorway.
Over the next two years, we fell in love, deeper and deeper, until we had something we couldn’t imagine losing – each other. After three years of doing long distance, we promised to love each other for better or for worse, till death do us part. Ever since our wedding day, we’ve been living out that promise and continuing to pursue a love story worth reading one day.
Auj and I still consider ourselves to be in the early chapters of a love story that we never want to end. However, as we look at the world around us, it’s quite clear that love, if not protected, often does not endure. Sooner or later, most of us are touched by failed love. We have parents who divorce, close friends who couldn’t seem to make it work, or our own heartbreaking experiences. We have to reckon with the fact that if love is something we can fall into, it is something we can fall out of. If we don’t protect it, our love story can suffer an unhappy ending.
We’ve all heard it said, “Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.” Although the actual numbers may vary slightly, this is a shocking estimate. The actual divorce rate is a difficult metric to measure because of all the unmeasurable and unreported variables involved. However, even if it’s in the ballpark, this should be a call to arms for everyone who desires a love that lasts.
Here are some things we’ve found beneficial to protect our marriage:
■ Protect your marriage by spending time alone with God daily.
■ Protect your marriage by never speaking poorly of your spouse to others.
■ Protect your marriage through sex.
■ Protect your marriage through wise counsel (or professional counsel, if necessary).
■ Protect your marriage by finding a community that holds you accountable, encourages you, and prays for you.
■ Protect your marriage by prioritizing your relationship with your spouse over all other relationships.
■ Protect your marriage through intentional weekly check-in times and through consistent communication.
■ Protect your marriage by setting boundaries in the workplace and on outside activities in general.
■ Protect your marriage with honesty. No secrets.
■ Protect your marriage by doing the little things.
■ Protect your marriage by praying for your marriage and your spouse.
■ Protect your marriage by establishing phone/social media boundaries.
We realize that someone may read this and say, “Well, I don’t set boundaries, establish rhythms, or pray, and my relationship is fine!” Well, I passed my SAT and said the same thing to all the kids who spent hours studying for it, but I took a risk, and some would call it a foolish one. Just because it worked doesn’t mean it was smart. I imagine the hurt of failed love isn’t worth the risk. We don’t put our seat belt on when we need it; we put it on before we need it. The same should be true for protecting our love. Don’t wait until your marriage or relationship has crashed to protect it. It’s much easier to protect it than to put it back together.
Ultimately, we believe that the greatest protector of love is God: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). And God is love: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). As we invite God into our love story and allow him to be the strand that prevents us from unraveling (Ecclesiastes 4:12), we are able to love more intentionally, more creatively, and more faithfully.
We’re all in the process of writing a love story. Maybe you’re dating and have just begun the first chapter. Maybe you’re married and on chapter 15. Or maybe you’re single and writing an exciting prologue. Wherever you are in your love story, protect it. Be intentional, get creative, and stay faithful.