May 17, 1981 was one of the happiest days of my life. I married my best friend for better or for worse. Our wedding was simple, yet beautiful. I wore my mother’s wedding dress and my father performed our ceremony after giving me away.
Can I honestly say our marriage has been perfect? No, but I can tell you it has been pretty amazing. We have definitely had our moments of frustration with each other but rarely did we allow the sun to go down while we were still angry. It only took a few times of going to bed angry to realize that you don’t get much sleep when you do.
So what are some keys to our lasting relationship?
First and foremost, I must say we both have chosen to make Jesus Christ the center of our marriage. He comes first.
Second, we put each other before anyone else, including our children. We both strive to treat each other with love and respect at all times. That means we don’t talk bad about our spouse to others. We build each other up and not tear each other down with our words and actions. We try to do what is best for our spouse. If one of us is better at this than the other I would have to admit, Tim is the best. He is one of the most selfless and humble men I know. He is always trying to think of ways to make me happy. Does that mean he isn’t the head of our home? Nope, he has no problem in being the leader of our home. But it’s pretty easy to submit to a man that is willing to lay down his life for me.
The third key is we make communication a top priority. We spend time talking about issues, work, finances, fun, sex, our family, and whatever comes up. We have spent quite a bit of time helping other couples with their marriage and or couples that are preparing for marriage. It amazes me how many couples struggle because they really don’t know how to lovingly communicate with each other. Through the years we have helped each other understand how to better communicate about different subjects. I will never forget when we had been married approximately seven years, sitting on a couch and telling Tim how it hurts me when he doesn’t open up and tell me what he’s really thinking. Then he told me he was afraid of hurting me if he really opened up. I was able to help Tim understand I would rather him lovingly tell me his true feelings than not communicate with me. After that, he began to slowly but surely open up. Was it hard for him at first? Yes, and even now he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings, but he understands the importance of lovingly telling me the truth. We need to make sure our spouse feels safe sharing their feelings, not afraid of being rejected or attacked.
The fourth key is having fun together. We’ve never stopped dating. We don’t date as much as we’d like, but we definitely do a lot of fun things together. Sometimes it’s going to see a movie or going on a bike ride. Other times it may be playing a card game together or sitting on the couch side by side each reading a book.
Just a few more thoughts…we also work together to keep a tidy home. We enjoy cooking together in the kitchen when time permits. We try to help the other one out when one of us has a crazier schedule.
Basically, what it all comes down to is choosing to love each other at all times and giving up the right to always be right. If both spouses would choose daily to live for the other (a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” mentality), I think there would be a lot more lasting marriages in the world today.
Remember, love is not a feeling, it’s a choice. Here’s what I know, when you and your spouse walk in obedience to God’s Word, you will have a lasting relationship. God’s Word teaches us how to have a great marriage, how to handle our finances, and how to enjoy sex. It also teaches good communication skills. It’s all in the Bible.
One more thought…we continue to grow in our relationship through reading marriage help books. Recently we both read and discussed the book “Sheet Music” by Dr. Kevin Lehman. Talk about a “pick me up” for your sex life, this book is great for that.
There’s probably a plethora of other things I could share but these are a few key ingredients to our lasting marriage. I don’t claim to be a marriage counselor or expert, but hopefully what I’ve shared will encourage someone. What are your thoughts on lasting relationships?
Then and Now…Thirty Four Years and Counting