“Love, love, love. All we need is love.” So the song goes, not Solomon’s but the Beatles. I’m a believer in love, especially after traversing the white waters of marriage over the last 38 years. If someone were to ask me, “How have you stayed in one relationship for those many years,” I would probably answer, “I can never stay mad at him long, once he flashes his George Strait smile.” Yet, the complicated history of our marriage begs to differ.
I have only half of the picture, but my half looks something like the few anxious comments wedged into the Song of Solomon. In chapter 1, verse 6, the bride-to-be has a moment of self-doubt about her beauty and worthiness when she tells the other lovelies in the king’s court, “Do not look upon me, because I am dark, because the sun has tanned me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards.” The bride’s background was not royalty and she looked different than the others. Likewise, I compared myself to those who had pedigrees, great hair, or designer jeans. I never came out ahead, so my insecurities in marriage, like hidden boulders in a river, required constant maneuvering by my husband to avoid an upset.
In a popular song of the early 50’s, Dean Martin sings, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!” That is a delightful way of saying that love is blind, and looking back on the ‘honeymoon’ stage of marriage, I see now what my husband and I missed from the beginning. We were unaware until the big storms hit that we were taking on water at every turn. If anyone had warned us to work out our differences before marriage, I wonder if the ride would have been tamer. It is interesting to read the warning given to Solomon and his bride from her brothers: “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes,” (Song of Solomon 2:15). Her brothers were well aware that little foxes creep into the vineyards and gnaw away at the roots of tender plants, just as the problems of life can gnaw away at a relationship.
However, it is the idea of marriage that may have piloted us to safety in some of the roughest waters. That idea begins in Genesis 2:24. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Also, hear Solomon’s bride’s passionate response to finding her lost love in Song of Solomon 3:4, “Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go.”
In my marriage, I have been clingy. Have I smothered my husband with my anxious worrying? Let’s just say that I’ve learned he has a limited amount of patience. Yet, we have thrown a lifeline to each other on more than one occasion, when one or the other threatened to capsize the boat.
Holding my marriage up as a model to be followed is without a doubt, foolish. I rely on Christ’s divine love to stay humble in this marriage (and in all my relationships), especially after reading Paul’s letter in 2 Corinthians 12: 7, which says, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelation, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. (Paul’s thorn was a painful, humiliating experience given to prevent pride.) I would prefer NOT to be afflicted, so I end this love-letter with a blessing: Keep your eyes on Jesus and He will steer your vessel down the rapids of life.