My wife Jean and I have been married for 27 years.
And although our marriage is getting better with each passing day, not every moment has been blissful. If you’re married, I’m sure you can relate. There are highs and lows and lots of moments in between.
Through it all, though, we’ve challenged ourselves to keep close by seeking to remain in consistent fellowship with the Lord.
We want to encourage those who are married to do the same.
That’s why Jean and I recently worked together on a book for husbands and wives, “The Best Year of Your Marriage.” It’s a collection of 52 devotions written by some of the best marriage experts and counselors out there. Jean and I weave these devotions together by sharing our own story.
On today’s broadcast, “Connecting as a Couple Despite Your Differences,” Jean and I explore some of the insights we learned as we worked together on our book. We offer couples advice and encouragement as they work through some of the differences many husbands and wives experience. You can listen to the broadcast on the radio, online, or via our free apps for iPhone or Android.
I’ll leave you now with my introduction to the devotions from “The Best Year of Your Marriage” that deals with getting to know your spouse.
I’d like to tell you how Jean and I first met.
We first crossed paths in 1985 at a wedding in California. People often say that weddings are great places to meet people (for good reason), but at the time I wasn’t interested in finding a girlfriend. Honest! I’d recently returned from a semester in Japan and graduated from college. Business degree in hand, I landed a good position with a local paper company and began the corporate climb.
I’d decided to take a break from dating. It was just something the Lord had laid on my heart. As a result of that decision, my head was clearing and my prayer life was improving. It felt great to devote my full attention to my spiritual development, not the pursuit of a pretty girl.
My good friend Dan was incredulous. We bantered about it; he respected my decision to steer clear of romance, but I could tell he was unconvinced. He was on the verge of marrying his fiancée, Tina, and asked me to be his best man. Honored, I accepted his invitation.
But something extraordinary happened on the Wednesday night before Dan and Tina’s wedding. I’d decided to attend a service at Lake Arrowhead Christian Fellowship. I was not a regular attendee, and knew very few people there. In the midst of the worship service the pastor—whom I did not know—walked directly toward me.
“I have a word from the Lord for you,” he said. “The Lord has picked out a wife for you. She will have a heart for the things of God.” He paused and then continued. “And in the years to come you will spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to people all around the world.”
I was stunned. But my heart was tender and receptive to what this man said.
That coming Saturday, at the wedding, I met Tina’s good friend. Her name was Jean. Despite the fact that it was Dan and Tina’s big day, they worked like crazy to get us together—and succeeded. Jean and I made some pleasant small talk, but quickly parted ways. When I returned to my table, I couldn’t believe what I heard myself say to my friend Victor: “I think I met the woman I’m going to marry.”
But life got busy; Jean and I didn’t talk to or see one another for the next nine months! Once again our friends tried to play Cupid and orchestrated another meeting. For our first get-together (not our official first date), I escorted Jean to an Amy Grant concert at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Newport Beach. I packed a picnic dinner of grapes, cheese, crackers, and iced tea. (I later learned that Jean hated iced tea—but that night she drank it with a smile.) In the fading twilight of that warm evening, I think we both realized something good was happening. But we kept our thoughts to ourselves.
Jean was still in college and due back to classes in September for her next year at the University of California at Davis. I hated to see her go, and wasn’t crazy about having a long-distance relationship.
So what does a love-struck young man in this situation do? I quit my job and moved in with my brother Mike, who happened to live in Sacramento about 40 miles from Jean’s school. For two semesters I burned through savings and income from a few odd jobs while Jean worked on her pre-vet degree.
Our dating life was lots of fun. We talked and talked and talked! While Jean was still in school, I bought a ring and proposed (with her father’s permission) under the shade of a large Santa Barbara oak tree.
She said “yes”!
There’s more to the story, but we’ll save it for later. For now, I’ll just point out what strikes me when I think back to the way Jean and I met. I’m reminded that though man has his plans, God will always have His way!
I’ll also encourage you to explore the readings in this “Getting to Know You” section. As Jean and I have found, discovering each other doesn’t end with the proposal or the walk down the aisle. It’s a lifelong process. As you read, have fun remembering the story of how you met—and looking forward to knowing each other better with each passing week.