We have lived in the same house for nearly 30 years. But I can still remember the day that we first discovered it. We had been living near Great Falls, Virginia, for about four years in two different rented houses. Our finances had finally begun to stabilize and it became time to look for a home to buy.
We found a house we really liked in Herndon, only about five miles from Great Falls, where HSLDA’s office was at the time. The only problem was that this house had been sold even before it was completed. The good news was that the builder promised to build us one just like it a few lots away in the same development. We were very happy.
But the builder never quite got around to starting our house. And our lease was about up and we had to find something. We began to look at more distant locations.
On a sunny Saturday morning I drove out to Purcellville—a full 30 miles from the HSLDA office. I had never even heard of Purcellville until the evening before. I immediately loved the area outside of town where the zoning laws required a minimum of three acres. And these houses with acreage were the same price as similar houses on tiny lots in the Herndon area.
I brought Vickie and the girls out there that very afternoon. Like me, the whole family loved the area. But the first house we saw seemed too small for our already larger-than-average family. So we just started driving around.
We took a left on the first dirt road we came to and started ogling the houses that were set back about 500 feet from the road at the back of the three-acre lots. And then, like a miracle, there it was.
It was “our” Herndon house. The same style. The same roof line. The same color. Just a little bigger, perhaps. It was perched on top of a little hill with most of the three acres between the home and the dirt road. I said aloud, “That won’t be for sale.” It was just too perfect.
We drove up to the driveway and spotted the “for sale” sign. We were jubilant.
Of course, we bought the home. It was the very house we had tried to have built—just a little bigger. And rather than being jammed in a busy suburb, we had three acres in a verdant valley, with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from our front porch. We were jumping up and down, we were so happy with this discovery.
Thirty years later, we still love this house. We have added to it as our family has grown. We finished the basement. We rebuilt the kitchen. And we made various upgrades over the years. The plants, trees, and shrubs are now mature. It is our dream house.
But I don’t jump up and down every time I come down the driveway and see it there. I am glad to be home. I really like it. It makes me happy, but my head is no longer spinning in glee like it did on that first day.
My point is not about homes, but about marriage.
Vickie and I have been married for over 40 years. But I can clearly remember the first time I kissed Vickie. My head was swimming before, and even more afterwards. I fell hard for her and in a big hurry. We were both 18 years old. Two weeks after that first kiss, I told her that I was going to marry her. I wasn’t asking her, yet. I was just letting her know that was where we were going to end up as far as I was concerned.
Falling in love with Vickie was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me, before or after.
In September, we will have been married for 44 years. I am very much in love with my wife. And as giddy as I was when we were first falling in love, I am even happier with her than I could have ever expected.
I still enjoy kissing my wife—a lot. But my head doesn’t swim the way it did on that first night. Giddiness has been replaced with deep happiness.
The reason I was prompted to think about all of this was a recent sermon from Revelation 2. The pastor focused on the church at Laodicea, which was chastised for leaving its first love. The message was about how to rekindle that lost love for Jesus. The pastor used marriage as an analogy. If a marriage has gone bad, remembering the first love is a good way to get back on the right track. It was a good sermon in every respect.
But I began to think about how mature love in marriage was quite different from first love. Waves of giddy excitement are replaced by a deep, strong river of contentment and happiness.
The house of love is enlarged. It is remodeled with cherry cabinets and hardwood floors. Kids come along and rooms of love are added as you parent together side by side for decade after decade. The trees get large. The shrubs fill in.
Stuff breaks in a home. Pipes burst. Storms damage the roof. There is the wear and tear of 10 kids and 30 years. But we fix those problems in a home we intend to keep for good. And with good maintenance of house and yard, it is a better place than it was the day we moved in.
The same kinds of things happen in a marriage. Challenges arise. Sin intervenes. And you fix those problems right now—just like you would a pipe that is overflowing and filling your basement.
A mature home is very much like the mature love of a man and woman in a godly, happy marriage. It has taken work. But the spaces of your heart are larger, richer, and more beautiful than the day you moved in.
Marriages fail when we equate true love with the giddy excitement of the first kiss. If that is the only kind of love one understands, the marriage is doomed. Divorce is likely. Unhappiness is guaranteed.
Those who continue to pursue an exciting love—as defined by the heady rush of a first kiss—are very likely to start looking outside of marriage. “My wife can’t make me thrilled anymore; maybe someone else can.” That cycle is doomed to failure because the thrill is accompanied by guilt and judgment. Eventually, nothing works and deep despair sets in.
It is not that mature love has to be boring or complacent. Far from it. There are many times when my happiness with Vickie is a current so strong that it feels like a flood. I just love it when we laugh together. Praying together every day is incredible. And kissing is still a lot of fun.
While mature love is wonderful, it is different. I think many people lose their way because they don’t know what mature love looks like.
A well-cared-for home in a good location becomes better—much better—with time. A well-cared-for marriage yields even greater rewards—beyond what we could ever dare to dream.
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Adapted from a post on Michael Farris’s personal Facebook page.