In honor of my upcoming one year wedding anniversary, I decided to write a blog honoring marriage and the commitment that it takes to make it last. So I reached out to some of my favorite women to get their take on things. These women have been successful at making their marriages work for 20+ years. These are women I appreciate and admire for lots of different reasons. But they are the success stories. They are the ones I want to learn from. They meant it when they promised "for better or for worse". They were open to sharing their thoughts on marriage, and I am so thankful they were willing to speak from their years of experience. And here is their advice.
1. Let your husband be your best friend and God be your guide- Martha, married 38 years
God needs to be the foundation of your lives together. He is the foundation. He gives us the freedom to build our house as we want, but He would like to be the center of you both. You need then to build each room of your life with love and respect. You need to decorate your rooms so that his attractions and love will always be at home. Physical affection is good, but verbal communication is so important. You always want to know what is going on in his head and what his thoughts are. Sometimes RC and I lay in bed in the dark. I don't think he knows I am not asleep, but then he'll say: "Sweetheart, you can't sleep?". Then we lay there in the night in the dark and talk to each other about our feelings and thoughts. You then start growing into one. After years, you can look at each other and know what the other is thinking (most of the time). You have to be each other's best friend and you'll be friends till death do you part.
2. Practice the 4 A's: Accept, Adapt to, Admire, and Appreciate- Sandra (aka Mom), married 41 years
In the early 70's I was beginning to wonder if I had what it takes to make a marriage work. With 2 children and a husband in ministry, it was way more work than fun! I ran across a book that may never win any literary awards, but it did change the way I looked at my part in the marriage. Being married is hard work, selfish people won't survive it. God has some very clear principles in His Word about the part of a husband and a wife . We can deny, deny, deny its importance, but that denial will lead to a very miserable couple or a failed marriage. Well here we are 41 years, 6 children, and 11 grandchildren later, happily married, but marriage is still hard work.
When I have a day that just seems too hard, I look at me and ask what can I do differently to get better results? I try to be open to the Lord for change. I know that's the only way to be victorious at anything in this life, whether marriage or any other relationship.
3. Have a sense of humor, be silly, and have your little inside things- Kyla, married 25 years
Todd says the most wickedly funny things at the most unexpected moments, and it makes his cute factor go way up. Be silly. Todd rolls his eyes every time I kiss him....You'd think that would make me mad, but it doesn't. Have your little inside things. Every Sunday morning when we are singing the closing hymn, I reach over and straighten his wedding ring because it always gets twisted around.
4. Say 5% of the things you want to say- Darlene, married 23 years
Shut up about the other 95%. I have been married for 23 years. Listen to the Holy Spirit before you speak. Typically, He answers me with two words, "Shut up!" (Of course if you want to say something positive to your spouse that's different... then by all means talk away).
5. R-E-S-P-E-C-T - Tricia, married 24 years
Each marriage is different, so in mine I have learned over the years that if I want to get along with my hubby, I don't nag or demand my way, although I usually do get what I want! Lol! I've been told that I am spoiled. I also think that showing respect for your spouse's needs and wants makes him want to give back the same respect and desire to please you. When we first got married, during our first big fight, John picked up his pants and threw them at me and told me to put them on because I was trying to wear the pants in the family! It wasn't funny then, but we have laughed about it since! So needless to say, I have learned how to hold back my mouth a lot of times!
6. No opting out- Cindy, married 38 years
Almost 38 years and I guess I could sum it up by saying...for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part....we went into it June 14, 1974 with no thought that it wouldn't work. Opting out has never been an option. With that as the foundation, you have to make it work. Of course, it is only God that helps you both...the closer to Him... the closer to each other. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
7. Appreciate what you have- Denise, married 29 years
I am currently learning a huge lesson - To appreciate what you have in your spouse, even the boring stuff. Watching my poor mum* adjusting to life on her own is just horrible. She said the other day "I even miss him not talking." None of us know how long we have our 'other half' for, so we've got to make the most of every moment.
8. Find out what your spouse's love language is, and learn to speak it - Larissa, married 20 years next month
I think it's very normal and human nature to love people in the same way that we ourselves feel loved. The problem is, it would land on infertile ground (much like the seed and the sower) if your spouse doesn't receive love in that same way. Over the first few years of our marriage I tried to watch and learn what things I did and other people did that made Bill feel special and valued. One of the ways I learned this was by trial and error. I did things for him (acts of service - my top love language) and although he was grateful, he didn't respond in the way I had hoped, by reciprocating. I learned that he felt loved by the words I would say, affirming words...as long as I was genuine when I said them, and he could tell the difference.
9. Find these four things- Sherry, married 33 years
Find a good man. That makes everything else so much easier. Find time for each other. Find opportunities to hold hands or say I love you in public. You may embarrass your kids, but they will survive. Find a good example to follow. My parents were married for 50 years. My dad passed away 2 weeks after their big 50th anniversary celebration. Jerry and I have only been married 33 years but we hope to pass them up.
*sweet Denise is writing from New Zealand and recently lost her father