Today Kathy and I celebrate 28 years of marriage.  I suppose if we lived in Hollywood that would be some sort of record.  I rolled over this morning in bed, wished her a happy anniversary and asked her if she still loved me.  She said, “Look I told you the day we got married, if it changes, I’ll let you know”. Good enough for me.

Marriage is never easy.  I do not know anyone who has not struggled at one point or another.  Billy Graham was once asked, “Have you ever considered divorce?”  He humorously answered, “Divorce?  Never.  Murder, many times but never divorce”.


The greatest marriage success secret of all time is found in Ephesians 5.  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. (Eph 5:28) Three times in 3 verses Paul tells husbands to love their wives.  What is he driving at?  What could he be trying to say?  There must be a message here somewhere!  The simple fact is this, a wife’s single greatest need is to be loved, cherished and honored by her husband.  If men could learn to treat their wives like they are the most precious thing in the world they would see amazing results.  When men tell me they don’t know how, I tell them they do.  All you have to do is treat her the same way your do that $20,000 motorcycle in the garage.  You baby it and run your fingers across the gas tank like it is a million dollar Stratovarius violin.  Just treat her the same way.


On the other hand, Paul never tells the woman to love her husband (although I suppose she can if she wants).  Instead he says, Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she RESPECTS her husband.  (Eph 5:33)  What’s that all about?  Well, a man’s greatest need is not love but respect.  Ladies, us men are completely ego driven.  We want you to think we are the most amazing thing since Gucci handbags.  You know; smart, talented, hardworking, good looking…basically we just want you to think we are AWESOME!  I am really not kidding.  Respect is a man’s greatest need.  Any marriage that gets into the groove of love and respect is a marriage that will stand the test of time.

I can honestly say that I love Kathy more today than I ever have.  We have had our rough patches just like any other marriage, but never once have I regretted the decision I made 28 year ago.  And I have always felt her respect…even when she was mad at me for doing something stupid.  Which is basically every day.  No, Paul got it right 2000 years ago. Love and respect is the ultimate marriage success secret.  Ignore it at your own peril.

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13 Responses to LOVE AND RESPECT

  1. Well written and very true. This summer will be 26 years for us and it just keeps getting better, through the ups and downs and turmoil.

  2. Evelyn says:

    Thank you for laying the foundation as to what Marriage looks like from the church’s perpective.

    Due to my upbringing I always thought the women were to live in a world of misery if we need men in our lives to complete us.

    I know now that it is Christ who completes us before the I do’s.

    In marriage we exercise Christ’s love especially during the struggles.

    I just wish some men could get their act together during the dating and courtship. I have found that many think putting on an act is giving a good impression.

    I do believe if you are true to yourself, God will show off his masterpiece in a postive light.

  3. Gord says:

    Absolutely true.

    Pastor Mark, I think some people get a little confused about then word love and what it really means. My understanding is that the original scripture in Greek used the word “agape” which is a very specific type of behavioural love. I’ve never heard you do any teaching on that, but I haven’t been around very long. I would like to hear what you have to say.

  4. Isaac says:

    The hard part is loving anyway when you don’t feel respected, or respecting anyway when you don’t feel loved.

    Doing what you’re supposed to do, when the other person isn’t doing what their supposed to do is hard.

  5. Isaac says:

    One thing that really made an impact on me when I first came to Church of the Rock, was seeing married couples worship together, and actually liking to spend time with each other. I had never seen that before.

    My parents and the parents of all my friends were either divorced or in marriages where the people were just going through the motions. Even though I was only 24 at the time, some of my friends were already divorced.

    It still really encourages me seeing couples worship God together. It’s a witness to new believers. Keep it up!

  6. Tara says:

    I’ve never written on a blog before so forgive me in advance 🙂
    My only hope is to say my 2 cents because marriage is a topic that God has given me a passion for.
    I am currently standing for my marriage as my husband has unexpectedly left. And I’m only 28! Yikes…talk about feeling like a failure. (Although I know I haven’t failed because God wants my marriage restored. I would have failed if I ran to the courts in hurt and anger when he left). I believe in marriage as a life-long covenant and and I signed up for “for better or worse”, so I am fighting my hardest to save it. The only thing I can do is pray…which is enough for God. I see many people (as many people have been telling me) giving up and moving on because one person leaves…WHAT ABOUT WAITING AND FIGHTING??? Yes, it LOOKS like your spouse is “done” and that there is no hope, but God doesn’t work based on what things LOOK like. He proved that through David very well. My vows that I made to God and my husband never said “for better or worse, as long as you do your part” or “I’ll love you unconditionally, but only if you love me” or “til death do us part but only if it’s easy and convenient for me”. I don’t know what your church believes in the matter of divorce, as I’ve only been attending for a little while (and by the way, Pastor Mark, every single time your sermon has hit home for me and encouraged me in my stand) and hope this all comes out right, as I’m certainly not here to judge. I’m only speaking based on what I’ve felt lead to do in my own marriage. One of the most important things, I believe, that spouses should learn to do is pray for your spouse and marriage and be on guard for spiritual attacks, as we know that satan is out to destroy families. I was where a lot of newlyweds are right now…I thought we were invincible. If you saw us, you would have either believed in true love or puked your guts out. My point is, when you get too comfortable in what is seen, you forget what is unseen – the spiritual attacks. I can only say from experience that I wish someone had taught me how to pray for my marriage from day 1. I’ve only learned it since my husband has left, but thank God I have and continue to. I believe satan sneaks in there to weaken some unseen part of marriages and then attacks. But don’t give up! He’ll have to get through you, first and if you have God on your side (which you do) it is done and done and there is no power on earth that will stop Him from restoring it.
    So while I do think love and respect are critical…so is arming yourself against the powers of darkness that want to destroy families and marriages. And I think as soon as we take our eyes of Jesus and His promises, we sink. You should not be looking to your spouse to fulfill you or make you feel all mushy gushy all the time. You cannot do things in your marriage only based on what your spouse is doing or you’re asking for trouble.
    Anyways, back to feeling like a failure if your marriage crumbles from beneath you. The only way you will fail in your marriage is if you give up on it and your spouse and stop praying for it to be restored, as God will do it. He promises that over and over.
    Sorry if this is long, I only want the word to get out there that there ARE people out here who are standing up for marriage and who hate divorce! Like I said, I’m not here to judge, just here to say my 2 cents. Wow…this ended up being longer than I intended. Sorry!

  7. Gord says:

    Don’t be sorry, Tara. I admire your faith, and your strength. You are an inspiration and a servant of God.

  8. Share says:

    I wish that it was that simple. To just pray and believe hard enough and God will restore a marriage. Divorce is sometimes the only option.
    Tara you say, “The only way you will fail in your marriage is if you give up on it and your spouse and stop praying for it to be restored, as God will do it”
    The blame should be on the one who leaves his family.
    Not on the one who stops praying for a dream that can not be obtained due to a sinful spouse. (abandonment is sin)
    I do believe that in some circumstances such as marriages with domestic abuse and adultery a person is free from marriage.
    I was married for 13 years and during those years prayed for God to restore my marriage. Did I fail by not praying enough and giving up on a spouse who for 3 years now lives in sin with his girlfriend.
    If I based my faith and what God could do for me on never stop praying. I guess I would say I have little faith.
    My faith is based on only existing as my Heavenly Father’s daughter.
    God knows my heart and his plan for my family could of been great with my ex spouse. But as a strong woman of God I have to stand on my two feet with God by my side. God promised us we would never be alone.
    Praying is good and having faith and hope is good.
    I know God can restore marriages, and I hope that your future is blessed.
    Just remember to take care of yourself and put your energy in loving yourself.

  9. Steve says:

    Tara what you are doing I believe is completely selfless and very commendable before God.If God has put it in your heart to forgive and win your husband over somehow then you are very high in the kingdom of God.I’m sure that God is smiling down on you right now.

  10. Tara says:

    Thanks for the encouragement and blessings. It is nice to get other perspectives. Since my husband left I have poured myself into my faith and relationship with God and put a major focus on changing myself into what God wants me to be. I’m much happier with myself now and totally psyched about standing. It is definitely what I’m being called to do.
    I believe divorce is never the option, but I’m only speaking for what is right for me, I could never ever in a million years say what God is speaking to anybody else, so, again, I hope this comes out right.
    And for the blame part…I’m not blaming anybody, really. I have no desire to blame. That won’t do anybody, including me, any good.
    I also believe that since Jesus never puts blame on me and never gives up on me when I stray, I should do the same for my husband, as Jesus was put here on earth to be the ultimate example for us.
    The same is true of our relationship with God. He never leaves us or forsakes us even when we leave Him. And the same will be true for my marriage.
    I’ve been doing a lot of reading on God’s Word about the subject and I don’t think I’ve come across anything that says things cannot be obtained due to a sinful spouse (or a sinful anybody, for that matter). God has proven Himself over and over again as the the God of the impossible.
    I’m going to humbly disagree with the adultery thing…but that’s just me (emphasis on the “humbly” part). I just look at all that I’ve done in my life and all the ways I have sinned and feel sooooo incredibly blessed that I am forgiven and loved through it all. God has forgiven me over and over again, and I want that for my husband. Jesus will/has forgiven him, so I should hold myself up to that standard, not the world’s standard. And I’m just a regular person, so if I can forgive my husband, anybody can 🙂
    I think satan is well aware that we run to the courts for the adultery thing and we make it easier for him to destroy our families, as we run in haste, anger, jealousy and pride, which are hardly Godly characteristics. If we were to be more forgiving maybe we could decrease the divorce rate. Just throwing it out there.
    And you’re right, I certainly don’t think God would want anybody in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. But I wouldn’t even dream about talking about that because I’m not in that position. I think I know what I would do, but I thought I knew what I would do in my current position and here I am doing the opposite. Never in a million years would I have said I could forgive my husband, but by God’s grace, here I am. It’s all Him. He frees us from blame and unforgiveness. And there is HUGE power in prayer and faith.
    Anyways, I love this conversation and am totally humbled by it and the entire experience of standing. I really don’t like emails/texts/blogs because you can never seem to read the “tone”, but please know I am cringing as I write this because I don’t want to offend anyone.
    p.s. It is not that simple, you’re right. This is SOOOOO the opposite of simple. This is the single most difficult thing I have ever done in my entire life, but I’m enjoying the ride that God is taking me on! I will be better for it. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worthwhile, right 😉

  11. Angela says:

    I have a small comment to throw into the mix here. I was married for 14 years and during the final year of our marriage my husband decided to have relations with our neighbor. Now this in itself was degrading, but what made it worse was that he chose to have his relations with the MAN who lived next door. Now I have to say I have never lost my faith in God or his plans for me. He has seen fit to bless me with an incredible daughter who also believes strongly in God and His plans for us, but I do believe there was nothing wrong with me agreeing with my ex-husband when he said he felt we should get a divorce. Maybe some would call that the cowards way out, but I found it impossible to get past the fact that my husband’s infedelities were with another man. I strongly believe that although God wants us to lead perfect Christian lives, He does understand that we are human and we live in a flawed world. I try to be a good Christian and stay true to my beliefs and pray each day for guidance. I have taught my daughter that if she truly wants to achieve great things in this life she must always pray and involve God in all of her decisions. I don’t think I am a bad person or a bad Christian for becoming a person who has had a divorce.

  12. Jasmine says:

    I don’t believe that God would judge us for being divorced. Marriage and divorce are only temporary while we are here on earth. Marriage is not a constitution that will continue into eternity because there will be no need for it in heaven. Our focus should be on the principles taught in the bible regarding relationships–any relationship, not just marriage. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ and ministers of reconciliation–very difficult to do under our own strength and that is why we need to be tapped into God’s supernatural strength. We have many barriers to reconciliation because we are imperfect–our own pride, jealousy, fear, anger, hurt, disappointment and a whole array of other things that get in the way of true forgiveness and healing. But the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to do things that feel so unnatural to us like forgiveness for wrongs done against us. We naturally default to vengeance because that is our nature. If everything we hold dear to us were taken away from us, we would still have the power to choose to respond to our circumstances in God’s loving way. The actions we take, the words we choose, the thoughts we allow ourselves to dwell on–are they done in light of eternity? Being in the right relationship with God and others is more important than technicalities. The bible tells us to make every effort to be at peace and unity with others, and leave the judging up to God.

  13. Teresa Fehr says:

    Hi Pastor Mark,
    Just wanted to say congratulations to you and Kathy. It always encourages my heart to hear of couples who have remained together and in love even over many years and rough patches. Blessings!
    ~ Teresa

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