Rick & Jill Nerud share their experiences and insights into the challenges couples face in building a godly marriage.
Pastor Rick Nerud and his wife Jill have been married for 31 years. After being honorably discharged as a major with the U.S. Marines in the early 1990s, Rick became senior pastor of CC St. George, Utah, in 1996. They have two children and several grandchildren.
What if you don’t “feel” in love anymore?
Jill: We have heard people say, “We fell out of love,” and then bail out of their marriage. But love is a choice, not a feeling. There will be times in every marriage when that feeling is not there. We have to abide in Christ. We don’t have it in ourselves to love unconditionally—seeing the other’s imperfections and loving them anyway. While we must make the choice to love the person no matter what, the power to do this comes from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes love might even be a moment-by-moment choice in hard times. As we make this choice to love, we need to allow the Lord to crucify our flesh (our selfishness) and allow Him to live through us—and love the way He would want us to. We can’t act or react based on feelings; love is deeper than that.
Rick: The best marriage book ever written is the Bible. In it, God tells us that He is the source of love; He is love. First John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” So, because God is love, He wants to give us love. Marriage is a gift from God through which He gives us an ability to express our love to each other. We all desire love—to be loved and to love someone. It’s an incredible gift.
What if I’m lonely?
Jill: Rick and I have been married 31 years; in the first 8 years of our marriage, Rick was in the military and had to travel a lot. So I came to understand two things early on: to love God more than my husband, and to allow God to meet all my needs. That’s huge. Too often, we look to our spouses to meet all of our needs, and they can’t. There were many times when I was lonely. The Lord brought me comfort so many ways. Most of all, He comforts me through His Word. As I would get alone with God and read my Bible, He would speak to my needs, answer what I was looking for. This is how He reveals Himself to me; I get to know Him better. Also, I would fellowship with sisters in Christ. When you’re with like-minded believers who love Jesus, you have instant family—even when you’re alone or in a difficult place. Lastly, I learned to feed my spirit and starve my flesh—doing things that would encourage me in my faith and help me grow, not feed my selfish desires.
How should a man lead his home?
Rick: In the home, someone needs to lead. It’s been said that no decision is a decision, though not a very good one. If leadership isn’t established, then how are you going to move forward? In marriage, God puts the awesome responsibility and calling and blessing of leadership on the man very clearly (Ephesians 5:23-25). So what does that look like? Coming from a military background, I learned that a good leader knows that he’s not omniscient or omnipotent. A good leader is a good listener, understanding that his own ideas aren’t always the best. A good leader will receive the wise counsel of his spouse just as readily as his own idea or his own counsel. A strong leader listens as much as he leads. Jill and I talk about a decision, we pray over it, and we seek God’s Word and His counsel. Then we have to make a decision. If we’ve done those things—and Jill knows I have, to the best of my ability, sought God’s will—then we go for it. The Bible says, Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:15). That may seem like such a small thing, but it’s huge. You’re recognizing that God is God, and you’re not. I have such limited knowledge; isn’t it better to ask the One who knows everything? We go to God in faith, seeking His will together—not my will or my wife’s will.
To see the full article, with photos and the complete story, view our PDF.