One year ago today I was single and desperately searching for my wife.

As of tomorrow, I will have been married three weeks to my best friend, Lauren.  It's crazy, but it's awesome.

God has blessed me with a fantastic, amazing wife.  "Married life is work" is the cliche statement often shared among people.  In fact, several people have already asked me, "How is married life?"  And I respond by saying, "It's great!  I love it!"  This is usually followed by a smirk and a
snide remark of, "You're still in the honeymoon phase.  Just wait a few more months."

Well, it's been nearly three weeks and we've already shared in some disagreements.  In all fairness, we also shared in disagreements before we were married.  But the rewards of marriage far outweigh the occasional disagreements.

Here are three "lessons" I have learned in the first three weeks of marriage.

#1 The best part of marriage is the companionship.

Growing up, as a young man, I could not wait to consummate my marriage with my wife - and then keep consummating the rest of my life.  That part of marriage is what I dreamed of the most.  But shortly after we were married, I was actually surprised to find that the close, personal relationship I shared with my wife was the most important and most rewarding aspect of the marriage relationship.  We often tell each other, "You're my favorite person" or "You're my best friend."  Those comments are true.  There have been some nights when we stay up late simply laughing with each other.  That close relationship is what God designed for a man and his wife to share with one another.

#2 If hurt feelings are not dealt with in a forgiving, timely manner, then the marriage will be destined for failure.

Marriage, I have found, is very similar to a friendship with someone of the same gender.  Allow me to explain.  I have been blessed with several, godly, accountable men as friends in my life.  My relationships with them were all very close.  But when you live life closely with someone, feelings are going to be hurt.  I hurt my friends' feelings sometimes, and sometimes they hurt mine.  When we didn't confront these issues and get over them, we would drift apart.  When we did deal with them and listened to each other, we were able to forgive and forget, which ironically drew us closer together when all was said and done.

The same goes for a marriage.  We will hurt each other's feelings - and we already have.  But when we stop and ask for forgiveness shortly afterwards, and the other partner forgives us, we keep the unity.  Paul writes in Ephesians 4: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."  If I must extend forgiveness everyday for the rest of my life and even give up some of my own wants in order to keep the unity, then so be it.  I will, for the sake of a peaceful home.  (In all reality, it is more often times Lauren who must extend forgiveness for the wrongs I do her.)

#3 God must be exalted higher than my spouse.

Last night, Lauren shared with me a dream she said that scared her.  In her dream, she got scared and went looking for me, but couldn't find me.  Then she woke up.  It was a great symbol and lesson that she cannot hope to find every need met in me, and vice versa.  God is still God, before and after we got married.  It is easy to think that she will meet all my needs, but it is futile to believe this.  The truth is, we are still humans created by God and created for God, and there are some things (many things) that only He can provide.  Praying together and reading the Word together are important, but a personal walk with Jesus is still the main relationship our great God pursues and desires with each one of us - and that not for our own sake, but that His glory might be revealed in our lives in order to bear witness to His great Name!

What a joy marriage is!  And how great it is to have a God who takes glory in a marriage rooted in Him!  We are determined and intentional to make our marriage a place of continuous joy and glorification of God our Father.  It is only by His grace and by His Spirit that we can keep the "honeymoon phase" alive.

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' ? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Matthew 19:4-6).