Dr. Graham:

My girlfriend and I are talking about getting married, but we’re reluctant to go ahead because so many of our friends have gotten divorced after only a few years. How can we be sure this won’t happen to us?

— P.D.

Reader: I’m thankful you want your marriage to last — because this desire will be an important part of being sure it will last! Far too many couples, I’m afraid, enter marriage casually or thoughtlessly. But God gave marriage to us, and His perfect plan is for it to be a lifelong commitment of the husband and wife to each other. Jesus said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6).

And that’s why the most important step you can take is to commit your relationship — and your whole lives — to Jesus Christ. God loves you, and He knows what is best for you. If it is His will for you and your girlfriend to marry, then you can be confident that He always will be with you and will help you. God is more concerned about your future than you are, and He wants your marriage to be a lifelong source of joy and security and peace.

How can you build a strong marriage? First, make prayer and the Bible part of your daily lives. When problems arise, pray about them and seek God’s will. Second, respect your spouse, and make it your goal to serve each other and not just yourselves. Never forget: the greatest enemy of love is selfishness. The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

As a footnote, many churches today have excellent premarital counseling programs that could help you avoid some of the problems that often arise in marriage.