My husband and I celebrated 23 years of marriage over the weekend.  In this day and age it is hard to find marriages lasting so long– much less a “happy” and “fulfilling” marriage.  We’ve not always been so “happy and fulfilled.”  There have been some really rough times!  I came across a song over the weekend that I’ve been reflecting on.  “I Choose You” by Ryann Darling says “And I’ll say I do, for the rest of my life with all that I have, I do and I will.  When the sky is falling I promise you I’m all in, No turning back.  Every day, every moment and every breath you take…I CHOOSE YOU.”  Finding lifelong love– being perfected in love (1 John 4:18)– comes only with choosing that other person over and over– through the good and bad, mountains and valleys, joy and pain, abundance and scarcity.  I have watched, personally and professionally, so many marriages fall apart when spouses stopped “forsaking all others” to choose each other.  God knows every marriage will face trying times when the temptation to choose other people, professional aspirations, substances, ourselves, children, friends or family have waged war on that choice.  Many times, those other people and things may win out– but they don’t have to win for long.  The decision to make your personal relationship with the Lord a priority and reaching out to Him when your spouse’s heart seems lost from you, is one that is actually a choice to love your spouse.  Since God is the creator of each of your hearts, who better to show you the way to other!  God has proven Himself faithful to this in my own life and marriage.   I’ve found it becomes hundreds of daily choices to choose each other– the stance and state of your heart, the thoughts you dwell on, choosing hope versus despair, forgiveness rather than unforgiveness, love rather than contempt and remembering your sacred history rather than all your spouse’s failures.  I remember in the early stages of marriage asking more seasoned couples what their secret to a lasting marriage was and here I am– I’m that “seasoned married person” as well as an experienced marriage therapist who has been on the front lines of fighting for struggling marriages.  What I have learned is that the key to lifelong love and marriage is continuing to choose and pursue God, first and foremost, and then choose to love and pursue your spouse through all that life brings.  Love truly is “more than a feeling” (sorry, 80’s song quotes often randomly find their way into my thoughts).   There are times when you may feel anything but love and the thoughts of giving up or calling it quits invade but choose to pursue your spouse with God’s help.   We all deeply desire to be chosen, to be loved and accepted in our messiness, imperfections and inadequacies not just on our wedding day– the height of the feelings and emotions, youth and ideal.  Continue to choose “I do” and “I will” over and over rather then relent to “I did.”