How to stay married for a lifetime


Marriage is such a beautiful gift. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to walk through life with someone who loves you, and is FOR you, and is in your corner, and will warm up your hot water bottle after you’ve had your 11th baby!  there is nothing like it, seriously!  So why do we have such escalating divorce rates in our country?  Why are people so willing to call it quits when the going gets tough?  I am here to tell you I don’t think its rocket science.  There are a lot of people, in days gone by, who had a lot less information available to them than we do, who ended up with great marriages. And even mediocre marriages can improve and be made better.  Will it take effort? Yes, but anything worth having is worth working for.  So here is my top advice for a happy marriage.

 

1.   Recognize marriage is a commitment, a lifelong commitment.  Imagine two people in a room with no door to it.  If you approach your marriage this way, when things get tough, then you can either sit at the opposite ends of the room, or you can realize hey we’re both in here so lets try to get along and figure this out.  I know the example seems simplistic, but honestly, once again, this isn’t rocket science.  My mind works in very practical ways.  For me, life has to come down to the practical living.  I don’t live in the realm of ideas and philosophy.  I can articulate to you my philosophy clearly, but it has to work for me and filter into my Monday, Tuesday ,and Wednesday, to be useful for me.

2.  In the words of Tim McGraw, always be Humble and Kind.  These are two of the keys to a long term, love-filled, close, marriage.  Any relationship really, if based on humility and kindness, will be set up for success. I’ll speak to each quality:

Humble—the Bible says, every man (and woman) among you, do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.(Romans 12:3).  The dictionary definition of humility is a modest or low view of one’s own importance.  And again, let’s hear what the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, let each esteem others higher than himself.”  Can we apply this to marriage?  Get ready because its radical, but isn’t Jesus radical?  We are to come to our marriages, not to grab for what we can get out of the other person or the relationship, but we are to ask this question:  how can I serve the other person, what can I give to this relationship that will make my spouse happy?  I told you it isn’t rocket science, but it is a dying to SELF, and that’s the way of the cross.  Think of our Savior and how he humbled Himself even to death on a cross.  He who did no wrong, gave Himself up for us.  When we hated Him, He reached out in love and gave up all for us.  What a beautiful example we have to apply to our marriages.  To have a God honoring marriage, we need to be focused on how we can serve our spouse, not on how we can serve ourselves. If we cement that firmly in our hearts, we can come joyfully, loving and serving our husband.  Does it take 2 people to make a happy marriage?  Yes, but we cannot control our spouse.  We can only control us.  And sometimes the change has to come in OUR hearts, and in OUR attitude first. God can use our humility and our serving heart to touch our spouse’s heart.  It’s what Emerson Eggerich wrote about in his book Love and Respect.  If we find ourselves stuck on the downward crazy cycle, someone needs to make the first move to get us on the upward energizing cycle.  Using Jesus as our example, plus knowing we’re in a room with no door, we can jump in and say, hey, lets make this work, and lets figure out how to make it great! 

One small practical thing I do is almost daily I ask Todd, “Is there anything I can do for you today?”  That lets him know, I am here to help you, I love you, and desire to make your life easier for you if I can.  Just that small act goes a long way.  Try it with your husband and let me know how it goes!

Kindness-the longer I am married, and this is my 40th year being married to my best friend, I can truly say that life is made up of the small things.  While looking over a candle lit dinner is lovely and romantic and fabulous, most of life isn’t that.  Most of life is work, kids, mortgages, cars needing repairs, budgets, health concerns, etc.  Figuring a way to make it through the ins and outs of life, and stay close and loving is the key to a happy marriage.  Simple kindnesses are key here.  Make it your goal to be a kind person.  This can not be overstated.  Our society has lost the art of being kind.  I am a real estate agent and I see a lot of marriages up close through the home buying and selling process.  Many relationships are lacking basic kindness. 

Common courtesies and niceties go a LONG way in marriage.  We’ve often told our children to marry a kind person.  Kindness wins over beauty every time.  Remember what the Bible says about a beautiful woman who lacks discretion?  She is like a pig with a gold ring in its snout. (Proverbs 11:22). In the every day ups and downs of marriage and the stressors you go through, if you have a person who is kind, you will feel blessed.  What do I mean by kind?  Well, it starts with simple courtesies, such as please and thank you.  It asks cheerfully, “How was your day? “ and listens for the answer.  It enters into our spouse’s life and thinks about ways you can meet their needs.  Remember the Golden Rule?  Practice the Golden Rule in your marriage and your household with your children.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  Kindness thinks about the other person.  As you show and receive kindness in your marriage and your home, lo and behold, you will raise kind kids!  Which is so cool.  One of the areas Todd and I feel very blessed in is that we came from families that were very kind and nice people.  Our parents, aunts and uncles, were very kind people.  Not that there isn’t the occasional grumpy great uncle, lol but in general, we came from caring people.  But even if you didn’t come from a kind family, and I know some of you reading this may not have. This is where Christ can make a difference!  He is about making all things new.  He is the God of new beginnings and fresh starts.  The gospel brings us hope that in Christ, even if our background has a lot of brokenness (and who’s doesn’t in one way or another!) Jesus can transform us, and do a great work as we seek to have a godly marriage, and raise godly children.  The power of Christ in your own life, should make you a kind person. And that should spill over into your marriage.  If you haven’t been a kind person up to this point, or if you recognize that your M.O. is being mean and nasty to your spouse, there is one place to go.  To the cross, repent of your sin, and pray for grace and real help for Jesus to make you a kind person.  Meditate on the following verses, put them on a 3x5 card and put it where you will see it often, and pray these things in.  And as you trust the power of God, He will begin to transform you into a more kind person.  And your marriage and your children will be blessed.  

          Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection. “

Here’s some pics of my favorite long time marrieds. You’ll see my Grandparents, Steve and Anna, my son Paul and his wife Capria, and my sister Annie and her husband Art, as well of some of my man Todd and I.

 

3.        Take care of your physical appearance.  I think this actually ties in to kindness.  Please understand that I am not talking about extreme measures of diet, beauty, etc.  I am talking about keeping your appearances attractive to your husband.  Believe me, I understand busyness as a mom.  I understand having very little, if any, time for yourself.  For years, I never had a hobby, my life was my home.  And I loved it!  It took every ounce of energy I had, but the fruits are beyond what I could have every hoped.  The work was worth it a million times over and I would do it all again in a moment.  But over the years I found time to do a 20-30 min exercise video 2-4 days a week.  I put in the VHS and did everything from Richard Simmons, Buns of Steel, Jane Fonda, etc,lol.  Whatever I could get to keep my mental outlook positive and feel good about myself.  Not to mention I had to lose baby weight 11 times!!!  So don’t make excuses that you can’t make time to take care of yourself.  If anyone should have excuses, it’s me.  But once again, I WANTED, as an act of kindness to my husband, to keep myself looking healthy and attractive.  It also will help you be a better mommy to the littles. There are many free yoga, exercise, anything you like, on the internet.  Find one you like and DO IT.  As a matter of conscience for your mental sanity and out of love for your husband. 

4.        Have regular, joyful sex with your husband.  Have sex with your husband as often as he would like to.  Girlfriends, men are not complicated.  Let me repeat that.  Men are not complicated.  We women are much more complicated than men.  Men need a few simple things in life:  a joyful wife, decent food, (unless they love to cook themselves,) and regular sex.  I used to say clean socks in his drawer, but last year Todd has taken over the laundry so I don’t even have to do that anymore, lol!  It does not take much to make a man happy.  These simple things go a long way in a happy marriage.  Your job is to study one man and to make him happy.  Do that and you will be blessed.

 

Your marriage is a beautiful testimony to the world of the relationship of Christ to His Church.  Work hard on your marriages to the glory of God.  As you work, and grow, and build a life and history together with your husband, over the years, through all that life throws your way, and believe me there will be tough stuff, your love will grow deeper for each other.  Let your commitment to lifelong marriage and your love for your Savior, be the motivation to make it all it can be for Christ.  May He richly bless you!

         Lord bless you out of Zion And may you see the good of Jerusalem
        All the days of your life.
 Yes, may you see your children’s children.   Peace be upon Israel!  PS 128:5-6