Forty-three years of wedded—well, quite a bit of the time–bliss. Hard to realize so much time has passed since that most eventful day when Terry and I tied the knot and started life together. Hasn’t been without it’s ups and downs, because we’re human; but over all, I’d say we’ve done pretty well, especially considering the disparities in personality, interest, backgrounds, and so on. I’ve been looking for a picture someone posted on FaceBook, but haven’t found it yet. An older couple all cuddled up together, with the caption saying, ‘We come from the generation where, if it’s broken, you don’t throw it out; you fix it!”
So now I do a lot of marital counseling, and I thought maybe you’d enjoy reading some of the things I find myself saying a lot.
1. Get over yourself.
2. It’s more important to resolve than it is to be right. It’s more important to reconcile than it is to win. If you have to win all the time, you’re the biggest loser.
3. Your children are NOT the most important people in your lives. YOU are, you two who are married. When you believe that and act upon it, you give your kids the most incredibly stable, safe, and secure matrix for their own growth that you possibly can.
4. Of course, this should have been #1: God is the most important Person in your marriage. Never forget it.
5. Church is a great place to get preaching, teaching, fellowship, service, and a safe place to rear your kids. Find a good one. Stay there until it’s not a good one any more.
6. Divorce is not an option. The only time I change my mind on this one is when there are dealbreakers such as:
abuse of any type
There are probably others, but these are the main offenders. And I need to say here that God never approves of divorce, but He does allow it under certain circumstances which I choose not to discuss because I don’t want this to devolve into a controversy. I tell people, usually women, that you don’t have to divorce him, but you don’t have to live with him, either. The biblical injunction to respect one’s husband does NOT mean you have to accept being used as a punching bag or that you have to endure any other kind of abuse. If either partner indulges in any type of abuse, that’s a dealbreaker. And I could spend a lot more time here. Yes, I believe in Ephesians 5, and someday I’m going to write all about that. Not today.
7. Neither set of in-laws belongs in your marriage. Each partner is responsible to control his own parents. Never ever allow them to come between you. Ever.
8. After the first two years of marriage, money is the most common cause of divorce. Get help. Get financial counseling. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and handle your finances accordingly.
9. Always function as a single unit in regard to issues with your kids. Don’t let them see any light between you–no cracks that they can weasel into and wedge you apart. If you disagree about something, do it privately, not in front of them.
10. Understand that your children are NOT sweet innocent little angels. They’re born with the same sin nature you have, and they will treat you however you allow them to. Jeremiah 17:9 is still true, even for YOUR little darlings 🙂
11. You have to love each other on purpose. Love is a choice, and it will die if you don’t choose to keep it alive.
12. Date nights are important. And you’re not allowed to talk about money, in-laws, or kids on a date.
13. Rest is not just important; it’s vital. Sleep-deprived people can’t take care of themselves, each other, or their children. You probably need to de-stress your lives by letting something go. If nothing else, turn off your iPhone, your iPad, iPod, TV, TIVO, DVR, gaming device, and computer and TALK with each other. If you can’t think of anything to say, you know you need to disconnect from the electronics more often. If nothing else, play a game of UNO or something just to get some time away from external communication. Seriously. Take a walk. Take a drive. Take a break.
God created marriage, so we know it’s good. He even gave us some instructions: The Song of Solomon; I Cor. 7; Eph. 5, and many other places in His Word are full of good advice about relationships.
Enjoy marriage. Enjoy each other. Nothing is more satisfying, toward the later years of life, than to have built a solid, stable, longlasting relationship with the person who made your heart go all fluttery 45 or 50 years ago.