Keeping the Faith

Marriage is to Life as Fruit and Veg are to Health. Good. For. You.

Janko Tipsarevic didn’t play at the Australian Open this year.  The Serbian tennis player hasn’t picked up a racket since October due to a heel injury.

This time last year, Tipsarevic was ranked No. 8.
These days he treads water down at No. 69.

Yet it was this mostly forgotten tennis star who came to mind during the tennis coverage this year because I remembered something he said during an interview after a magnificent match that resulted in Lleyton Hewitt’s first-round exit in the 2013 Australian Open.

He essentially tipped his sweaty tennis cap at his wife.  “Honestly, I don’t know why but from the moment I got married I started producing great results,” he grinned.

Marriage is good for you, is what I heard him say, and I can vouch for that.

We’ve just celebrated a decade and I don’t mean to brag but we’re a good team!  Anyone would kick our butts at a game of tennis doubles, but don’t even bother attempting to come between us in the bigger match of life.  We’re a force!

As we celebrated our 10 years we did a lot of reminiscing.  It was great fun.

“Remember that time we got lost in Granada and eventually realised we were driving our rent-a-car down a garden path connected to the Alhambra?” (true story)

“Remember when we chased that whale along the coastline at Eaglehawk Neck and, emerging breathless and exhilarated from the dune scrub, we were treated to the most incredible vision of it launching from the water and slapping into the blue, just metres from where we were standing?”

“Remember holding our son for the first time, being so completely awestruck, so choked up with love and God’s goodness that we could do nothing but grin and cry?”

There’s been the whole gamut of experiences, not only the ones that put a warm aura around the heart, because marriage is also hard work.  Yet, it’s been the challenging times that have proved that marriage is truly good for you.  To have someone there beside you every step of the journey, a full-time cheerleader devoted to building you up and seeing you achieve your full potential, a listener, a repairer, a motivator, an insulator.  For our home to be a place of peace and stability.

We returned to our marriage vows and I was reminded once more of the power of words.

I promised to love him, “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ‘til death do us part.”

Am I a wife whose every communication with her beloved hinges on these promises?  Sadly, no.  But I do believe in marriage; marriage for life.

Ephesians 4:29 reads, “Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

Ten years ago, the words I spoke to my husband at the front of a little church in Hagley were a gift.  They still are and as long as we work to “love and cherish” through all of life’s rigmarole, I’m confident there will be another ten years.  And another, and another.

Oh – something else about Janko Tipsarevic.  His injured heel may have prevented him from attending the Australian Open this year but it also enabled him to be right there beside his wife last month as they met their first child, a daughter.  Congrats to the Tipsarevics!

First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday February 3, 2014.

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3 Comments

  1. What a beautiful, refreshing reflection on covenant marriage the way God intended for it to be. Thanks Claire for your commitment to your own sweet marriage and for your courage to share the goodness of it with your readers.

  2. John Wigg says

    What God created includes marriage – God’s creation, once complete, received His approval as “very good”. Beyond “falling in love” lies the upward way of “walking in love” [Ephesians 5:1] – becoming genuine imitators of God – loving as He loved and goes on loving us in Jesus. Sometimes, the married road is steep – even rough, but walked in the love of Christ, marriage enriches man and wife with riches infinitely more valuable than gold or diamonds. May God bless you and yours with many more decades as man and wife – God’s gifts to each other!

  3. I was reflecting on marriage today, in the face of an increasing number of friends posting pro-gay ‘marriage’ notes online.

    What struck me was that the criticism of marriage as a decayed institution are valid. Not for people like you and I, but for large sections of the community and also in the laws surrounding it.

    Only in the presence of a community who hold marriage as it stands in contempt, could the concept of gay ‘marriage’ be advanced without condemnation.

    Conservatism – trying to hold the line – is useless in the long term. We need a vision of what marriage needs to be in a societal context, and to be working to restore that marriage. Extraordinarily, what we – you and I, and most Christians – view as marriage is starkly different to what is reflected in law and society, and is a vision that can be sought after.

    We have to return to an understanding of what marriage means and hold that high. Marriage is not a contractual arrangement. It is a life bond; since the abolition of slavery we have very few other examples of that bond in society, where one takes on the responsibility until death for another.

    What does this mean? Divorce is too easy. Marriage is entered into too lightly. Marriage is too convenient.

    Consider this question — what changes to marriage would be required to see the divorce rate drop to less than 1%?

    We need to hold marriage to a higher standard. We need something worth defending; not only in how we see it, but in how society sees it. Only when it is free from degradation is it immune to attempts to despoil it.

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