On our trip in 2016 to China one of the questions that we were asked again and again in each city, with each group and with a number of individuals, was about finding a husband or wife and how to have a good marriage? We always answer questions based on God’s heart. It made me think about our marriage because we can all take our relationships for granted often focusing on the negative instead of looking at the good things, so I did a quick review of mine, why not, whilst we were in China we celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary.

Ian is a great team leader his attention to detail keeps everything ordered, whether planes, trains or the gong gong che che = buses, or, checking our travel documents, lots of bits of paper, passwords and numbers.

A quiet man, Ian is rarely discouraged, always positive and upbeat, keeping us cheerful with jokes and puns. He’s gentle and kind, long suffering, patient, determined and wise with a great heart attitude and he loves the Lord, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the little things he always ensures we don’t get dehydrated or too tired, that we eat properly. He also stands in front of me on the extra high escalators we find in China, I suffer from vertigo! Ian watches that I don’t trip or fall on the proliferation of steps or low street furniture designed to keep cars off the pavements but lethal to the unwary.

I thank God every day for Ian and also pray that I will be a better wife, I know I am blessed.

You will notice that I haven’t mentioned love, flowers, chocolates or the latest must have fashion accessories because love doesn’t come from the external things in life but from the unseen heart attitude.

When Ian and I met we weren’t looking for a husband or wife. We became very good friends. It is very unhealthy to look upon every girl or boy as a potential spouse.  When Ian and I got married we were students we had a very small income. We didn’t think about how much either of us earned or who would be the most highly qualified.  What we earned was no longer his and mine but it became ours. We became partners working together.  When we met I was more interested to know if Ian was a man of integrity and honesty, Ian was more interested if I was unselfish and caring, after all it is trust and respect that builds good foundations in a marriage. Not just respect for the other person but that we show respect no matter what the circumstances. We were looking at the character, those qualities that command our respect. Ian and I have very different personalities, we came from very different backgrounds, so from the very beginning we worked very hard to make each other happy.  This isn’t always easy because we as humans are naturally selfish and want our own way but we knew that these human characteristics are not a route to happiness.  It became easier when we became Christians because God became the third person in our marriage, ‘A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ Ecc 4:12. He guides us in his word and we can pray for God’s help and direction through the difficulties and challenges we face together every day.

God’s word shows us the characteristics that we should aspire to in ourselves and look for in others. “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal 5:22-23.

As we read God’s word we glimpse in the life of Jesus the characteristics that our heavenly father would have us emulate. We can ask God to help us to have these characteristics.

I know it may be hard to believe because I am more outgoing than Ian, you will have noticed I am not subservient, downtrodden or barefoot in the kitchen wearing gingham pinafore dresses, but, Ian is definitely the head of our family, he is responsible before God for his family. We discuss the issues we face and then I trust him to make decisions that will be for the best, he doesn’t always get it right but I know it is not because he is being selfish. I don’t always get it right either but Ian knows that I will always try to do what is best for our relationship and family. When we get it wrong we apologies, forgive each other and keep going.

God tells us what love is in his word “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.   And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  1Co 13:4-13