15 Good Years and Counting
15 years ago today, at the building that Stillwater First Baptist Church meets in, Lacey and I made a “for better or worse, until death do us part” covenant. A covenant of God’s own sovereign and perfect making (Matthew 19:6).
When I do premarital counseling with couples I tell them: “I have never regretted marrying Lacey.” And I sincerely mean it. I have never had covenant remorse.
That’s not to say it has always been easy. We are two saved sinners who are in constant process of being sanctified of our selfishness by the power of the transforming Holy Spirit through the plan of marriage. One of the first things I realized after we publicly committed to each other was this: “I am a me-centered person. I am really selfish. I like things my way.” And by the way, I still can be very selfish, but Lacey has helped me see that, and by God’s grace He has used her to expose some of my blind spots and to help me be more like Christ. When we got married, I had little idea that God would use His plan of marriage to be so good to me (and hopefully her) in conforming me to the image of His son. In hindsight, it is surprising that this surprises me, because when we submit ourselves to God and each other – and they go together – then God uses marriage to make much of the gospel and make us more like Christ (Ephesians 5:21-33). If we miss the true purpose of marriage, we will make it about our happiness and we will be self-centered and there will be no joy in it. But when we give ourselves to God and another, it is in giving that we receive true and lasting joy. Yes, even when we give ourselves to very imperfect, often self-centered people, God uses it for His glory and our good.
But Lacey isn’t self-centered. She is giving and caring. That’s why the last 15 years have been so good. Lacey has submitted herself to her God and to her husband. I have tried to do likewise (Eph. 5:21). Here are some ways we have submitted to each other for the good of each other:
- We have always tried to make Christ the center of our marriage, which means He is the boss of both of us. So when we have made a decision, we have always tried to do it in a way that submits to Christ and His word. So ultimately, we are trusting Christ and not each other for our greatest joy.
- We have always tried to set clear expectations for partnership and ownership. For instance, we have a budget that helps us communicate on how our money will be spent. A budget is nothing more than a communication piece for expectations. Even if something seems obvious, it is good to say it so the other person can know what to expect.
- We value each other’s strengths. Lacey is wonderfully hospitable and good at organizing to serve others. She is good at picking colors and helping me to be color-coordinated when I dress. She is much better than me at being optimistic and having faith. She is a better listener than I am. She has a sensitivity to worldly dangers that I don’t have. She helps me to be aware when I am insensitive to others.
- We are intentional about liking each other and being friends. We still say please and thank you. We ask questions instead of making demands. We try to value each other’s likes – meaning she gladly lets me watch football and I try to gladly let her watch Hallmark Movies (which are all the same). She likes to shop and I shop only out of necessity. I like to burn wood in SE Oklahoma. Lacey – not so much.
- We have become good at admitting we are wrong and apologizing in a healthy way. I have had a lot of practice at this. We don’t go to bed angry, and when we apologize, we make a full apology. “Is being sorry enough?”
- We trust each other. I don’t ever wonder about whether Lacey will forget the kids or spend more money than she should. I trust her fully to say and do the right things for our children, our family and our ministry together.
- We support each other in dry seasons. There have been a few seasons in which both of us have been in life-funks. We trust each other enough to express it, and then we pray for each other and support each other with extra patience, even when it is hard.
- We have goals that we are working on together. Discipling our children is our greatest joy and responsibility. We have financial goals we want to achieve. To do these things requires sacrifice for the greater good. Teamwork makes the dream work.
- We pray together almost every night before we go to bed.
- We know what marriage is and we love and trust God enough to adhere to His beautiful design. From the beginning marriage was God’s idea for one man and one woman to be committed to each other for a lifetime (Genesis 1:27 and 2:24; Mark 10:1-12). It’s not always easy, but it is, and will be worth it because God said so.
I like my wife and I have made the commitment to love her (do what is best for her according to God’s word) every single day. We are not perfect at marriage and it is not always easy, but because of God’s goodness to us through it, how can I regret any of it – for better or for worse?
It’s been a good 15 years, and if the Lord wills it, I hope for 15 more years of growth in marriage. Happy anniversary Lacey Prentice!