Summary: A good marriage extends grace to you when you are grumpy; remembers your birthdays, your favorite foods, and your favorite music; celebrates your wins; speaks the truth when no one else will; serves one another with joy without complaining; and affirms my best qualities when I am insecure.

I had a really good father in life. My dad, Brian Maze, taught me to work hard as he grew up around the steel industry of Pittsburgh. He taught me to hate debt. He was a savor and modeled great wisdom for me in personal finance. He taught me to love my country as he was a Vietnam Vet around 1965. He volunteered to be a Sea Bee in the United States Navy. I remember asking my dad if had been shot in the war. He confirmed that he had been shot while serving in Laos.

I learned not to “backtalk” my parents from him and the importance of obtaining in education. He modeled for him what how to sacrifice for your family as I remember him selling a prized hunting rifle so he could give me a Commodore 64 for a Christmas gift. I have a great deal of love and admiration for my father to this day.

But the day that stands out to me right now as a I span my father’s life is the day when two men came to our homes in Western Kentucky. My agnostic/atheist father sat down with these two deacons from our church. My father had consistently rejected Christ since his days in Vietnam. The two men presented the gospel to my father and then they asked, "Is there any reason why you should not receive Jesus Christ right now?" My dad then said, “I think it is about time I did so.” At this time, my father went to his knees in our living room to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior. He was baptized several weeks later. Seventeen years later I preached my dad's funeral with a tremendous comfort that he was spending eternity with Christ

I share my father’s story in hope of empowering you to be a great father and a tremendous husband. Our goal is to see sturdy, durable marriages that spread joy for generations.

1. The Wounds of a Self-Centered Relationship

Marriage is hard. Marriage is hard for the same reason it attracts us so… No two people are the same. While are differences give marriage a richness and variety it also gives rise to conflict. Had God designed marriage with a free-agent clause in it… Had He designed it to be a series of one-year contracts renewable by mutual agreement where both husband and wife, then you could hit the escape clause. That’s just the kind of thing Paul Rampell, an attorney in Palm Beach is proposing. Rampell wants the institution of marriage to adapt to increasing difficulties of staying married for a lifetime. His reasoning goes like this… we don’t buy homes for a lifetime, why should we sign a contract for marriage for lifetime? This Palm Beach attorney proposes marriage leases. A marriage lease would allow two people to commit themselves to marriage for a period of years – five years or ten years – and the lease could be renewed for as many times as the couple wants. But the lease could end the marriage if it goes bad and avoid a messy divorce. But marriage was designed to a last for lifetime.

To run to the mailbox is easy; to run a marathon is another thing altogether. They don’t give out medal and stickers for running to the refrigerator. Marriage for the long run is hard. Marriage where both people stay in the same bedroom, loving one another, serving one another, and seeking each other’s happiness is thought to be impossible. Many young adults approach marriage with such pessimism that they delay marriage, reject the idea of marriage, or feel divorce is inevitable. Because of our experiences with marriage, both our own and our parents, we feel we are consigned a series of marriages over our lifetimes. Where each marriage lasts only a short while and we move on to the next one.

Where do you get the power for lifetime love? I think of Kim, a nurse who was often high and the mother of two kids. I met with her on numerous occasions. Her drug addiction caused her to compromise on vital issues. She gave free narcotics to her friends from the hospital pharmacy. She snuck these drugs out of her workplace when people weren’t looking. She even compromised her marital fidelity with these friends despite her loving firefighter husband. She had been sexually abused earlier in life and her life was radically altered by this evil act. What appeared to be a normal marriage on the outside, was anything but normal in the routines of the week. She later spent time in a drug rehab center and her husband forgave her and they tried to make the marriage work for a short time.

Many more mainstream relationships struggle with the ups and downs of married life. Often we struggle with unfairly blaming our partners. Where do you get the fuel for lifetime love? My wife has been married to at least five different men since we were wed – and each one of the five has been me.

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