I’ve been dating the same woman for 22 years. Not only is she my girlfriend, but she is the mother of my six children and my first and only wife! I have to admit, I’m smitten by her. I’m not really sure how I gained her attention. It is a classic case of beauty and the beast.

I will never forget the day I met her. A friend and I were pretending we lost a contact lens at Falls Creek in hopes that a few pretty girls might feel sympathetic and help us regain our sight. Our strategy worked, and in the end I got the girl!

Our first date was at church. Being with her made me nervous and nearly made me sick. When I wasn’t with her, I felt worse. We were in luuuuv! I’m often asked by young people if it is possible to know you have found the one. For me that was easy. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life without her.

To this day, there is no one I would rather spend time with than Stephanie. She is my best friend. Besides, what guy wouldn’t want to be with a woman who loves to fish? My only problem is that she tends to catch more than I do. I finally figured out why. She loves to fish, but she hates to handle bait. If we were golfing, I would be her caddy! When fishing, I bait and she casts. We make a great team.

I’m convinced God brought us together because He knew we would accomplish more together for Him than we ever would on our own. We are perfect complements. She’s patient, and I am hurry up, let’s go. She listens, while I talk. I’m out front, and she’s behind the scenes. She’s a gourmet cook, and I’m great at cleaning dishes.

She loves me despite all my weaknesses. She knows me better than anyone, and is still seen with me in public. When I fall short, she’s honest about her disappointment, but remains faithful because she knows my heart.

No, we aren’t the perfect couple. We’re just in love. We discovered that while we are different in many ways, God uses our differences to make us more like Him.

In Ephesians, a man is encouraged to cherish his wife and to go all out in his love for his lady. A love marked by giving, not getting. As a servant leader, a man is to love his wife as Christ loves the church.

If I have learned anything in 22 years of dating, it is that a healthy marriage must be cherished. Taking it for granted is foolish. Marriage takes care, commitment and communication. Most of all, it must be centered on Christ. With the Lord in the heart of marriage, love is sure to grow and your girlfriend will always be your wife.