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by Kayte McCoy

“I beat him again!” I probably should not have gloated about yet another victory, especially since my husband is always such a good sport about my amazing record of having a higher… MUCH higher… score than him.

A half day to spend on the manicured golf course is a rare treat for us.

Fall is breathtakingly beautiful in upstate New York, and on this day we were doubly blessed with a warm breeze and puffy white clouds framing a vibrant blue sky. I plunked my golf club into the bag and used the mini pencil to record my impressively large number of strokes on our score card. The names on our score card actually would not have identified us to a stranger. We begin all of our one-on-one golf tournaments with the tradition of choosing a name for each other. Sometimes the names are sweet, sometimes goofy, and sometimes special only between the two of us. At the conclusion of our game we shred the card into a thousand tiny pieces before disposing of it.

Another tradition while we golf is that I get to drive the cart.

The thrill of flooring the pedal of a golf cart over a bumpy cart path with clubs rattling behind me is just one of life’s best pleasures, in my opinion. If my husband does not need to grab hold of the seat or me in order to keep both of us on board, I am not driving fast enough!

I have a confession to make though. I am not a huge golf fan.

I never played or even watched golf until dating my husband. Even though I rack up the points as if I were a champion, I am worn out after just nine holes. However, in the two to three hours that we spend on only half of the 18-hole course, we enjoy the scenery and each other’s company. With fast-paced, busy lives that almost everyone I know experiences on an everyday basis, taking a few hours to set the busyness aside and just have fun together as a couple is so refreshing.

I cannot help but think of the account in Genesis when Abimelech realized that Rebekah was not the available woman he believed her to be, but was actually married to Isaac. The fact became apparent to Abimelech as he noticed Isaac and Rebekah playing and laughing together. This is a far cry from the sour, morose impression of marriage that is propagated by media and cultural clichés with which we are bombarded by this world. This was no “ball and chain” marriage. Isaac and Rebekah were having fun together!

My second confession is warranted here.

I am not very fun, naturally. The truth is that I am a completely task-oriented, goal-driven person. My idea of a grand time is compiling a nice, long, detailed “to-do” list, prioritizing that list, and methodically checking off every item. Then, if I should complete my exhaustive list without thinking of anything else to add to it, I like to sit in a perfectly clean and quiet house and read. I sound like a barrel of laughs, right? Some people are naturally fun and bring the party with them wherever they go. Although I enjoy organizing the party or even cleaning up the party, I am overwhelmed during the party by the noise and by the mess everyone is making! It is far too easy for me to get caught up in the daily grind of life. I have to make a deliberate effort to make our home a happy place.

If only I could put “Have joy” on my to-do list.

Joy is a byproduct of healthy relationships, first and foremost with the Lord and then secondarily with others. My marriage is the most important earthly relationship I have.

Even when life is difficult, either because we are overwhelmed with the various responsibilities in our lives or because some fiery trial is upon us, my marriage has often been a source of such joy and comfort.

Fifteen years ago, like many newlyweds, I had the wrong expectation for my new husband. I was convinced that he was supposed to make me happy—wrong! A great husband still makes a poor god. Only the Lord can give us true joy; and joy is, in fact, a fruit of the Spirit. However, I do believe that God designed a beautiful earthly reminder of His love through the institution of marriage, and that He had a very good idea when He designed men and women to be together for life to encourage and to support one another.

Proverbs 5:18 says to …rejoice with the wife of thy youth. My husband and I had our first date in 2000. During our dating relationship, I saved humorous stories to share with him when I saw him again. I could almost always put aside any fatigue or distractions in my life and give my favorite guy a pleasant companion on our dates. The Bible speaks of a contentious woman in a very negative way. The antonym of contentious is agreeable. When we were dating, being agreeable was an unconscious priority to me during our time together. I wanted to make him laugh and smile. At this point in our marriage, we have already heard all of each other’s funny stories from childhood. Some wives can even recite their husband’s jokes for them because they have heard them so many times!

It is far too easy to become co-parents, co-workers, or just people cohabiting who like each other or even love each other but have not added any building blocks to their friendship in a while. While being pleasant company to each other when we dated was almost effortless, now, as a married couple with children and pressures of adulthood upon us, it requires a deliberate CHOICE every day. It obliges a choice to not be offended. It requires looking up from a task to greet each other warmly. It demands taking the extra time to do or to say something kind. It needs me living with an attitude of gratitude toward God and others. It necessitates a choice to maintain a sense of humor when the temptation to be a grump can be mighty strong!

My husband and I rarely have an entire afternoon to devote to traipsing at 60 mph through a golf course together. It is an extremely rare and momentous occasion if we can get away overnight. However, for our entire married life we have dedicated one evening, usually around two hours each week, as “Date Night.” Most times it is not anything spectacular as far as activities that are planned. Often, we get fancy coffee drinks and do any shopping we feel like doing. We take our time and talk. We make fun of weird things that we find in the stores. We might take a walk. We occasionally play a board game. Some couples I know simply cannot get a baby sitter for even one hour on a regular basis. Their date night is merely a quiet evening at home after the kids go to bed.

God gave us the gift of marriage not only to honor Him, but also to share a life of joy with someone else who loves Him, too. Let us all determine to invest in our spouses daily, take time together weekly, and overall CHOOSE to honor Christ with our relationships. How pleased He must be in His children when they are finding joy in such a wonderful, God-given relationship!

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