(The posts in this series have been adapted from the “Relentless Love” marriage seminar, created and taught by David McKinley and Bret Legg at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, TX.)
As we come to the end of this series (I can almost hear you cheering) it seems appropriate that we finish by talking about the ending of your marriage story.
Every story must come to an end. It may be a beautiful ending or it may be a tragic ending, but all stories come to an end. This is also true of your marriage story – even if it’s a Christian marriage – because Scripture tells us that in heaven there will be no marrying or giving in marriage (Mark 12:25.) So even the longest and happiest of marriage will come to an end.
None of us like to think about our marriage ending. Maybe you’re in a marriage that has been so long and loving the last thing you want to think about is your marriage coming to an end. Maybe you’re in your second or third marriage and can’t stand to think of another marriage ending. Or maybe you’re single-again and thinking about the end of your marriage is still painful.
No matter your experience, thinking about how you want your marriage story to end can help you write a better marriage story now…and thus improve the ending.
Here are some things you need to know about the ending of your marriage story:
You can’t know the ending until you get there.
Some people like to jump to the end of a book and read the ending first. Then, if they like the ending, they will continue reading the book. But you can’t do that with your marriage story.
You can know the beginning of your marriage story: how you met, how the relationship grew, how you knew they were “the one,” how you proposed, the wedding, and the first years of marriage. You can also know the middle of the marriage story, because that’s the part of the story you’re in now. It includes things like bills, work, disagreements, struggles, home, and maybe kids. But you can’t jump to the end of your marriage story, because it’s not been written yet.
Though you can’t know the ending until you get there, you can contribute to the ending before you get there.
Too many people just wait to see how things will turn out in the end. There’s a commercial that talks to people about their retirement and whether they will have enough money when they get there. Many of the people realize they’ve not really given retirement much thought, and consequently they won’t have enough funds at retirement…unless they make some changes now. The commercial goes on to show them how making small changes now will make make their retirement better.
The same is true for your marriage story. Every contribution you make to your story now will effect the ending. So work with the end in mind. Ask yourself, “How do I want the ending of my marriage story to look?” Then ask, “What can I do now that will improve the odds of having the ending I want?” If you need some help with this, take a look at this video and then ask yourself, “What do I need to do to be like them?”
Once you get to the end, you cannot rewrite the story.
You only get one shot at the marriage you have, and when you get to the end you’re stuck with the story you have written. You can’t rewrite it. Yes, a good ending might help redeem a bad story, but it won’t rewrite it. Likewise, a bad ending won’t destroy a good story, but it certainly can diminish it. Don’t wait till the end to start working on your marriage. By then, it will be too late.
Finally, a tragic ending is one that fails to inspire the reader to live a better story.
Some marriage stories end with beautiful images of elderly couples holding hands on the beach at sunset. Some marriage stories end with painful images of a couple dividing up assets. And some marriage stories end with difficult images of long vigils in a hospital room. Everyone wants to end their story like the elderly couple on the beach, but there’s something more important than ending with good circumstances. What’s really important is leaving a story that will inspire others to live a better story than the one they’re currently living.
I know a story of a very long and strong marriage. The marriage story ends with a terrible and debilitating stroke that eventually took the wife’s life. But despite how the story ends, you walk away from the story feeling inspired live a better marriage story. (Click here to see a video of this story.)
One day, our marriage story will end. The cover will be closed and it will be put on the shelf to make room for other stories that are being written. The question is, will your marriage story continue to live on in the hearts of others? Will family and friends continue to pull that story off the shelf and find hope, and help, and inspiration? If so…you’ll will have had a good marriage story.
What could you be doing in your marriage now that would contribute to a strong ending? If you or your spouse were to die, what do you hope others might say about about your marriage as they pass in front of the casket? There’s no better time than now to start contributing to a better ending to the story.
Copyright © 2016 Bret Legg