My husband, Richard, and I were strolling through downtown Grass Valley, California, having just come from a Christian-owned Bed and Breakfast where we were celebrating our first twenty-five years of marriage. This was only the second time we had been away alone together since we started having children. Enjoying special time together like that—just the two of us—was way overdue. Those babies always seem to come at such opportune times, don't they? And when they arrive, we just can't bear to leave them for even a night. 

Well, with our youngest now one year old, our oldest an adult, and the next two in line with CPR certificates in hand, we still weren't ready to make the trip . . . but we did it anyway. We were having a wonderful time going through musty old antique shops, high-priced novelty shops, and a treasure hunt at a yard sale, and then we enjoyed dinner at a local Mexican eatery. We had meandered to a nearby park when my husband decided it was time to let me know his feelings. 

To have arrived at one's twenty-fifth wedding anniversary seems to indicate a life of marital bliss. But let me be the first to tell you that marriage is hard work, and it includes tears and trials of many kinds. It is also a self-denying, iron-sharpening-iron relationship that requires all of your loyalty, commitment, and the guts to stick it out. Add homeschooling to the marriage, and you have a whole new aspect of learning and growing together to deal with, as well as a whole new set of challenges to work through.

Now that I have given you a dose of reality, let me tell you the other side of the story. Marriage is also blissful at times, full of delight at times, reigning with laughter or tears of joy at times, yet fully rewarding and heart-consuming all the time. 

Sitting in the park and hearing my husband begin to speak the phrase "I feel like you . . . ," my mind immediately went through a series of mental gymnastics. How could he bring this up on our anniversary? Why does he want to spoil the beautiful day we just had? I have feelings, too, but I'm not going to be insensitive enough to share them right now. Why am I the one who has to continually die to selfishness? Is it asking too much to just be loved and appreciated for who I am and not what I do or don't do? Just as a physical body becomes tired, my mind, too, was tired from its mental gymnastics, and I prayed, "Lord, help me to see things from a different perspective. This is his anniversary too. Help me to hear him and understand his heart." 

I then heard myself asking my husband, "What can I do to make you feel like you are my first priority? Do you have any suggestions for me?" Amazingly he had only one or two suggestions, and we both agreed that we just needed to spend time together a little more often so that we can connect on many different levels. We actually were able to communicate without many hurt feelings or angry exchanges. Imagine that! I attribute that to both of our prayerful attitudes as well as the lack of stress or distractions (such as the presence of our children). 

As Richard and I were talking about our need, as humans, to be loved and appreciated, Richard likened it to our walk with the Lord, and Richard said how he knew that God, too, desired us to love Him in a close, intimate, deep way. Unfortunately, we become so busy and preoccupied that there is no longer a depth to our relationship with the One Who loves us most. I was also convicted that not only was I not making my relationship with my husband my first priority (with my time and my attention); I was doing the same thing with my Lord. I was not the bride of only one man, but two. 

If the Lord is truly my Bridegroom, what do I need to do in order to put Him first again? He says to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-5: