Thirty Years so Far, Thirty More to Go.
Hold Hands……Entwining your fingers when holding hands creates a connection of constant contact. Whether walking along a road or just sitting holding hands, the touch keeps a constant communication, a flow of electricity, between each other. A gentle squeeze or small tug can communicate enormous yet private feelings without ever uttering a word!
Pursue Romance…..Romance is everywhere in a healthy marriage. Intimacy can begin while digging in the garden, exchanging volleys on a tennis court, twirling across a dance floor, watching your daughter take her first steps or creating a recipe in the kitchen. It is the full sharing of the moment that makes it “just yours” that creates the intimacy and leads to the romantic magic of marriage.
Keep Your Personal Priorities Straight…….God First, Spouse second, Kids Third, Family Fourth, Close Friends Fifth, then whatever. Build a hedge of protection around these important people and defend them with all your heart. Repel invaders such as electronic devices, hobbies, destructive habits and, sometimes, even well intended friends. Time and energy are too precious to waste on anything but the highest priorities.
Keep Your Shared Priorities Straight……Too much has been written about money problems in marriage. Money often is not the problem. Having different priorities that lead to how money is going to be spent is the real problem. Talk long and talk often about what is important to you, listen to what is important to your spouse, compromise and commit….and keep the commitments! Over 30 years lots of priorities change. Communicating and moving as one is what makes it work!
Live Below your Means….Start out with this commitment to each other and keep it. Accountability to each other is hard along the way but during the tough times, having financial margin will save the day (and the relationship)!
Learn to say “I Love You, (insert name)”….make these words the first words your spouse hears in the morning, the last words your spouse hears at night and often hears in surprise midday calls, secret notes hidden in random places and soft whispers in the middle of the night. Always saying her name reminds her it is for her and only her!
Learn some other Important Phrases…….”Please”, “Thank You” and “I’m Sorry”. These are common courtesies we use with people all around us everyday but all too often we forget to use with people in priorities one through four above. Say “please” even if it is expected, say “thank you” whether it is needed or not and say your “I’m sorry” even when you’re not entirely sure what you did wrong. This advice is particularly directed to us husbands!
Be Partners…….Each member of the marriage has different gifts, talents and passions. Understand what each of you is good at, appreciate/celebrate the differences, py up the work and trust each other to do whatever it is as well as they can for the good of both of you. Sometimes neither of you are good at some things, then celebrate those things too (and hire someone else to do that stuff)
Give Grace, Accept Grace…….Marriages of 30+ years have “moments” that cause tension, disappointment, feeling of failure, unmet expectations etc. Grace, the giving of undeserved forgiveness, is sometimes all there is to do. You have to be always ready to give it and to receive it. If not, the alternative is a cancer of guilt that will grow and consume your relationship.
Always Assume Forever……The wedding has vows that are given to each other but are given as a commitment to God. You become one in His eyes. If you accept the “forever” in that commitment, the priorities, the grace, the hand holding, the “hedge of protection” and the partnership all become easier.
Make Marriage an Adventure……For some that means exotic travel or wild rides. For us, it has been being side by side, living in the moment, keeping our priorities and having GPS (God’s Power Steering). That always leads to unexpected adventure!