I have a challenge for all married couples this Valentine's Day. It's simple, easy and totally free. You can do it if you've been married 40 years or 40 minutes.
My Valentine's Day Challenge : Remember your wedding vows.
As a wedding photographer, I have seen dozens and dozens of couples pledge to love one another through "sickness and health, 'til death to we part". I have seen couples promise to love Jesus first and their spouse second. I have seen really sweet vows, sillier vows, from-the-heart vows and, of course, the super traditional vows -- all filled with pledges of love, fidelity and a life of awesomeness.
And then I look anywhere in this world - the news, Twitter, Facebook, television and I see people totally forgetting their vows. All the time. In every way you could possibly think.
I see it in very obvious ways like husbands and wives cheating on one other and disrespecting each other. What the heck is happening to our world? And then I see it in not so obvious ways. I see moms glorifying their children above their husbands - loving the kids way better than she loves the husband. I see husbands "checkout" and start loving fantasy football, hobbies or anything else more than their wife.
Now, I don't totally remember my vows word for word. I don't have them memorized, but I do remember the idea behind them. I remember telling my amazing wife Brooke that I would love her no matter what. But before I did just that, I would love and follow Jesus first and well.
If you follow Jesus well you will love your husband or wife better. You will love them when it's not much fun, or inconvenient, or when they smell bad or when they just aren't being very lovable. (All things that very rarely happen with my wife, I am a lucky man!)
Brooke and I have been thinking about what life will look like when our first child arrives - which is literally any day now. We will love our little girl more than anything in our lives, except each other and Jesus. We have been very adament on this statement being true while Brooke is pregnant and even more true after our girl is born. I can totally see how it would be really easy for me to focus on her and love her better than I love Brooke. I see the temptation and I see why people fall into it. But, DON'T!
If you love your wife or husband really well, you will love your kids really well! I don't know if it will always come naturally, but love is a choice that we have to make every second of every day. We have to make it when we are "on the beach, with cotton candy, watching the sunset over a rainbow of skittles" and when we are discussing how to pay bills after the loss of a job. I think most vows say, "in sickness and in health", in that order, for a reason. If you can love when it's hard you will be able to love when it's easy.
So, as Valentine's Day approaches, buy gifts and write kind words. Those kind of things are always fun and exciting! But do one more thing for the sake of your husband or wife - remember your wedding vows. Choose again and again to live them out everyday. If you haven't read them in awhile, find them and read them again to each other. You don't need a ceremony or anything fancy. Just a few minutes where you can look into each others eyes and refocus on those promises you made!