It was a different world back then… when Mom and I walked into the department store. There were no computers. No cell phones. No cable TV.

I’m not sure what prompted our conversation. Maybe it was the bridal section filled with fine china. But whatever it was, Mom’s words turned to marriage.

“One day,” she said, “a man will love you so much that he will want you to marry him and take his last name.”

It was a simple statement. Just a few words between a mother and her young daughter. They were said with no intention of being profound or long remembered.

Yet after more than a half of a century, I sometimes recall Mom’s words that day. Jim Larmoyeux, now my husband of more than 45 years, wanted me to have his last name. And as the years have passed, I’ve realized this gesture was much more than a name. It was a sign of wanting oneness.

For Jim and me, a “oneness marriage” has been a process of living together, for better and for worse.

When funds were plenty or few. When good health seemed like a guarantee … and when devastating illnesses and unwanted troubles visited our home.

It’s been a lifetime of two very imperfect people turning time and time again to teachings of Jesus about marriage and home. Two people who often stumble, but do not remain where they fall. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.”

Three Ways to Grow in Oneness

But how do two very different, very sinful people strengthen oneness in their marriage? Here are three things I’ve learned over the years:

  1. First, decide who will “be in charge” of your marriage—the husband, the wife, or Jesus Christ. Like most couples, Jim and I have had our share of struggles. But it wasn’t until both of us had Jesus as the foundation of our lives that we started to really grow together as a couple. Until then, we just did not look at life the same way.
  2. Next, remember that true oneness takes hard work. It puts your spouse ahead of your other friends. It’s learning to enjoy life together, and sometimes that will mean doing an activity you don’t relish just to be with your spouse.
  3. Finally, keep in mind that a husband and a wife are not one another’s enemies … that it’s common for couples to disagree. Never forget that how you resolve your disagreements can make the difference between oneness and a fractured relationship.

A friend once shared some wonderful advice with me. She said when she and her husband disagree on a decision, they stop discussing the problem and individually pray about it. Whenever they both feel a peace from God, they come together to talk about the situation as two people wanting the best for each other and for their marriage.

What Will Your Legacy Be?

Although the world has changed over the decades, the value of a strong marriage remains the same—truly priceless. And just like anything of immense value, it should be handled with great care.

So, if you are ever tempted to treat your marriage like a cheap plate tossed to the floor, consider what would happen. It would be broken. Just fragments would remain—jagged lives of men and women, of boys and girls. Each a shattered soul who often can never be put back together again.

But when you and your spouse grow together in your marriage, it will become whole and strong. Imagine leaving future generations something worth much more than finest china: a legacy of faith … of overcoming struggles … of oneness in love.