Husband & Wife for Life: Rejoice
In my late teens, I discovered "The Three Stooges." I can remember eating lunch with my Dad on many occasions as we thoroughly enjoyed the slapstick comedy reruns. In one episode, Curly went from door to door trying to gather information for the census. As he spoke with a man who answered his door, Curly inquired about his marital status by asking: "Are you married or happy?" Although that joke was good for a laugh, tragically, many people today seem to view marriage and happiness in the same mutually exclusive way that Curly did. Many have been deceived into thinking that true happiness cannot be found in marriage (or at least not for very long). Friends, I'm here to tell you today that true joy and much rejoicing can and should be found in marriage--but it takes effort!

Proverbs 5:18 exhorts - "Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice with the wife of your youth." Solomon was instructing his son, but the same advice could be given to a daughter: "Rejoice with the husband of your youth." This verse is applicable for married couples who are newlyweds and for those who have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. The verse does not state that we should rejoice with our spouse in our youth but to rejoice with the spouse of our youth. There is a big difference! The longer a Christian couple is married, the closer and more united they should become. Even as years pass, Ranae will still be my wife. I married her in my youth and she will still be the wife of my youth if we live to be elderly. I want to continually rejoice with her and have a happy, blessed marriage!

But how? How can we rejoice with our spouse? It begins with the realization that marriage is not trivial; it is something of great value. Good marriages don't happen on accident. They must be cultivated and cherished.

Have you ever thought about what you would say to your spouse if death was about to separate the two of you? Maybe you'd state something to this effect: "You've been a devoted and faithful mate to me. I just want you to know that life would not have been so wonderful without you. I've leaned on you so much and I want you to know how grateful I am. You've made my life such a blessing." When we know our time is limited, we'd say those things. But friends, why should we wait until then? Swallow hard and say them now! Rejoice with the spouse of your youth.

It's important to have fun with your spouse. Be playful. If you drive by the grocery store and you see your wife's car there, you'd better stop. Don't drive by! Write her a note and leave it on the steering wheel or on her seat--something mushy and sentimental. If you leave it on the windshield wiper don't make it too mushy (someone else might read it!). Rejoice with the spouse of your youth.

Code language can be a lot of fun in marriage. Ranae and I have a few words and phrases that convey special meaning. In one of his lectures, Glenn Colley talked about he and his wife's code language. He never cared much for egg-salad sandwiches, but they tended to eat a lot of them in their early married life when they were poorer. One evening he asked what was for dinner and his wife replied: "Egg-salad sandwiches." He replied: "Do you want to go out?" That quickly became code language for them. She didn't use it too often, but when she really wanted to go out to eat and he happened to ask what was for dinner, she'd simply state: "Egg-salad sandwiches." His typical response would be: "I'll get my coat." Do you know what that is? That's rejoicing with the spouse of your youth!

Be playful by laughing at your spouse's jokes. Complement your mate in front of others (privately and publicly). Read books together. Ranae and I like to do this on long car trips. Whoever isn't driving is the designated reader. Send your mate e-mails from time to time, telling them how much you love them. Celebrate your anniversary every month. It doesn't have to be in a big way, but do something. Send a card with a handwritten note inside. Buy flowers or a small gift. "But Stephen, why would I want to celebrate my anniversary every month?" Because you want to rejoice with the spouse of your youth, don't you? "But Stephen, we just don't have time to do that." Then make time in your schedules. You only get to live once. Rejoice with the spouse of your youth! Let your fountain be blessed!

We've shared a few ideas in this lesson on how to rejoice in marriage, but we've just scratched the surface. No one should know better than you how to rejoice with your spouse! So, get thinking and then get busy. If you don't know how to make your mate happy, then it's time you learned. In marriage, it's often the little kindnesses and expressions of love that make the difference between a decent marriage and a phenomenal one! Look for ways to rejoice with the spouse of your youth. You won't regret it!