Recently Chief and I went to a co-worker’s wedding. During the ceremony, the couple braided three cords together as a symbol of their new marriage. One cord for the bride, one for the groom, and the third was symbolic of God. It was a Scottish/Irish tradition, and the pastor talked about how they were individuals coming together to make a new life, and God would be the third strand that would keep their marriage strong.
I’d never seen this before, even though I am Scottish/Irish and Chief has Irish roots. But as a couple who just celebrated our 25th year together, I can say that our third strand, Christ, has definitely made our marriage stronger, and in many ways.
First of all, the third strand strengthens us as individuals. My relationship with God is somewhat like a knight in shining armor story, as he rescued me from a destructive life at the age of nineteen. I was in a downward spiral, and in a really low moment, I called out to God for help. He reminded me of the love He has had for me since I was a small child, and welcomed me back into a relationship with Him that has grown in fervor ever since. My husband has had a relationship with God since he was a kid, and He has watched over him, given him wisdom, and guided his life and career to this day.
Second, the Third Strand meets needs that we can’t meet in each other. When I married Chief, I thought that he would meet all my relational needs. But that was completely unrealistic. No one can do that! And then he became a highway patrolman, and that made things even more difficult. In my lonely nights alone while Chief was working, the Third Strand was with me. In the times I feared my husband wouldn’t come home, the Third Strand comforted me with His promises (Psalm 91). In my clumsy miscommunication, the Third Strand gave me clarity of mind and new perspectives that would help me articulate my feelings and thoughts. In my fatigue of the days, months and years of constant battling for our marriage, the Third Strand gave me strength. And in my inadequacies, He somehow made up the difference. It’s kind of a mystery, but one I rely on to sustain me through the difficult days.
Lastly, the Third Strand holds us together even when we are frayed and strained in our relationship and life as a couple. We have a common faith, a commitment, and common values and goals. Even on the days that we get tired of each other, or situations, or the job – the Third Strand keeps us joined by being intimately involved in the smallest details of our lives.
As Chief and I celebrated our 25 years together a couple of weeks ago, we talked about the things that we change and not change, and then recommitted 25 more years together. I have confidence in this, knowing that with all that will happen, good and bad, the Third Strand, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, will be with us, help us, and continue to hold us together.
“A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12