A marriage prayer

by David E. Hankins, posted Friday, February 13, 2009 (10 years ago)

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--A recent "Lockhorns" comic strip which features the irascible and combative Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn has Leroy responding to his wife: "Second honeymoon? No way -- a man can't be punished for the same crime twice!"

Patty and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on Jan. 4. Unlike Leroy, I relish the prospects of future honeymoons with my beloved. However, we had to postpone this year. That same day we held my father-in-law's funeral service. In spite of the obvious sadness, it still was a celebration. I officiated the memorial for the man who, 40 years earlier, officiated at my marriage to his oldest child. We are thankful for his long life of faithful service to Christ which included (as of Dec. 28) 60 years of marriage to Pat.

Wisdom for long, happy, healthy marriages can be drawn from a prayer I've used at marriage ceremonies for many years. These are some of its phrases:

-- "May they not expect that perfection that belongs alone to Thee." Henry VIII agreed to marry Germany's Ann of Cleaves only after he saw a portrait which showed her beauty. The portrait had been heavily "enhanced" at Thomas Cromwell's instruction. When Henry finally saw her, he found her to be quite unattractive. Therefore, he divorced Anne of Cleaves and beheaded Thomas Cromwell for having tricked him. Don't try to build a marriage on superficialities or unrealistic expectations.

-- "May they minimize each other's weaknesses." One elderly lady said her marriage was long-lasting because she determined in advance to overlook 10 weaknesses in her husband. When her granddaughters asked what was on the list, she replied, "I never got around to writing them down."

-- "May they be swift to praise and magnify each other's points of comeliness and strength." My father-in-law, from his pre-marriage counseling with me until his last lucid moments a few days before his death, never ceased to extol the virtues of his beloved Pat. It's a good practice.

-- "May they see each other through a lover's kind and patient eyes. May they never take each other's love for granted." Do you treat your spouse as politely as you do strangers? Are you intentional and creative and expressive in making your love known? Guys, Valentine's Day is upon us. Get her something nice (not from the Home Depot!). Gals, my pappy used to say, "Even an old barn looks better with a coat of paint." Get up. Make up. Dress up. Wow him all over again.

The prayer ends, "In the end of their days, may they be found then, as now, hand in hand, still thanking God for each other, serving Thee happily, faithfully, together until one shall lay the other into the arms of God." May it be so for you and yours.


David Hankins is executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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