To a Young Couple Contemplating Marriage by James R. Coggins

This blog is adapted from a talk I gave at a wedding some years ago.

Dennis the Menace famously said, “You can’t tell how deep a puddle is from the top.”

When my wife and I married, we decided that: I was going to become a university professor; we would never move away from the province we were then living in; we would have four children, two boys and two girls; and we would own a ranch with horses.

It didn’t work out that way. We moved to another province so I could complete my doctorate. I earned the degree but never became a professor. Instead, I had a very fulfilling career as a writer and editor. We lost a couple of children to miscarriage and ended up with two daughters, one of them chosen. And six grandchildren. And we never came close to having a horse ranch. Or a horse. But we saw one once.

When a couple enter into a lifelong commitment, as you are doing, they usually have a lot of hopes and dreams and plans and expectations. But life has a way of not turning out the way you think it will. Things will come into your life that are harder than anything you have ever imagined. One of you may come home one day and announce, “Honey, I lost my job,” Honey, I crashed the car,” “Honey, I have cancer,” or “Honey, I shrank the kids.”

You may think you know each other and love each other, but you’ve only begun to scratch the surface. You will find out things about each other that you never expected. You may discover that those cute little quirks that attracted you to each other can become pretty annoying after you’ve experienced them twenty or thirty or fifty or a hundred or a thousand times.

You may think you are compatible, but you will discover that you have completely different ideas about things as insignificant as how to mount the toilet paper roll and more important issues such as where you want to live.

You may find yourselves at some point flat on your face crying, “This is too hard. I can’t handle this.” And you will be right. You can’t. That is when you are going to need help from your family, your friends, your church, and God. It is impossible to love someone completely without first receiving love from God.

But just as there are terrible things that will come into your life that you never expected, there can come into your life wonderful things that you may have hoped for but which are far more wonderful than you could ever have comprehended ahead of time.

I remember when our first daughter was born, after a very tense night and morning when I was afraid both mother and daughter would die. They wheeled our daughter out of the delivery room, I reached down my hand, and she clenched my finger in her tiny hand. It was an incredible feeling. I had a similar feeling when we adopted our second daughter when she was less than two years old. We went for a walk, and she reached up and held my hand with absolute trust.

You cannot comprehend the terrible things that might happen. But if you hang in and keep your commitment, you cannot comprehend the incredible joy and fulfillment that come from going through those difficult times with someone who shares them with you, loves you, and supports you. You think you’re in love now, but you have no idea how wonderful married life can be twenty or thirty or forty or fifty years from now.

This one thing I know. If you think you can do all of this in your own strength, you will find to your sorrow that you are sadly mistaken. On the other hand, if you build your life together on a shared faith in Jesus, incredible blessings are possible, and everything will turn out well in the end.

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is
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2 Responses to To a Young Couple Contemplating Marriage by James R. Coggins

  1. Marie Harris says:

    Wow! What a great message to be delivered at a wedding! After 51 and counting years of marriage, I confirm you observations! Thank you for this!


  2. Matthew Todd says:

    Hi Jim – awesome
    Say I lost contact with your new number – how can I connect re: editing


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