This year Roy and I have been married 31 years. Has it all been plain sailing, you may well ask? Well…no. Not exactly.

On our church’s steady march through the Gospel of Matthew, we recently reached the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ words on adultery and divorce (Matthew 5:27-32). Our pastor Richard’s sermon was a punchy one that he warned up front would be convicting to each one of us. He was right.

Richard told us how the religious leaders of the day had come to Jesus to try to trap him. Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason, they asked, knowing that they were pushing him into a minefield (if there had been such deadly weapons in Ancient Israel). Jesus sidesteps the mines by taking them right back to the beginning when God made Adam and Eve.

Haven’t you read he said, that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other? If you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it. (Matt 19: 4; 12  MSG). He was showing that a marriage union is a gift from God. He values it immensely and wants us to do the same.

Ouch. That was the conviction. The truth is that I’ve grown complacent in my marriage. The starry-eyed adoration is a distant memory. The candlelight romance is nothing more than Eskom-induced necessity. The long pillow talks have been replaced by the occasional ‘you’ve got more of the duvet’ grumble.

At the height of Covid, Roy left a demanding position at Deloitte. At first, it was a novelty to have my husband home so much. We had coffees together, went on little lunch dates, and did more talking than we had in years. But even having him home so much has become commonplace, and three years on we’ve fallen back into our own individual orbits, whose trajectories intersect a little too erratically.

The reminder, therefore, that God chose to put us together and that our marriage is one of his most precious gifts to us, was something I needed to hear. Along with the reminder, came the conviction that God’s precious gift requires something of us. We must value and protect our marriage, and love and serve the person in as selfless a way as possible.

I shouldn’t have needed this reminder. Two of my friends have recently lost their husbands, far too soon. Another continues to struggle with the emotional and financial fallout of a husband who left her. Others long to meet somebody to share a life with.

I have a really good husband. He’s faithful, reliable, sweet and funny, and he makes an exceptional minestrone soup. He loves me and he loves our daughters. More than thirty years later I still call him my best friend.

So no—it hasn’t been plain sailing but it’s been a wonderful, wind-swept adventure nevertheless, and I am so grateful to God for this most beautiful gift.

And also for the much-needed reminder to cherish it.