Today - August 19 - marks 37 years of marriage for my wife Cherylyn and I.
During our engagement I had well-meaning friends tell me "marriage is a lot of work." They gave me advice of all sorts intending to send me into the battle well armed and well armored. But after 37 years I can honestly say our marriage has not been work, or a battle, or a struggle. I think the way some folks treat their marriages, and their spouses, turns the joy God intended into work. They do make marriage out to be work, instead of working to make it good. Our marriage works so well for us, and here are a few reasons why:
1. We both found our identity in Jesus Christ before we found one another: I'm convinced many of the struggles spouses have stem from their attempts to find their identity in one another, or in their children, or their careers, or something else. The problem is each of these will eventually disappoint you. Kids grow up and leave. Careers go up and down and end. If you stake your identity on anything within the reach of this broken world, it simply won't keep you satisfied.
2. We decided early to make kindness the basis of our everyday relationship: I know it sounds weird, but we actually talked, early on, about the necessity of being kind to one another, all the time. And over the years we have worked to get better and better at it.
3. We think one another's idiosyncrasies are actually cute and endearing: We each do things other people would consider weird. Little mannerisms, likes and dislikes, and a few annoying personality quirks have instead become reminders of how incredibly blessed we are to have someone that is one in a million!
. We have our own unique brand of romance and have never tried to live up to what our culture thinks: We often say "if they ever made a movie about our lives people would be completely bored or rolling on the floor with side-splitting laughter. But ... we really like us, and that's all that matters.
5. We take time to pray with each other, for each other, out loud, everyday: It may sound simple, but this is essential to our marital happiness. If you are praying God's blessing on your spouse it is difficult to remain selfish at the same time. And few things melt a man's heart like hearing his wife beseech the Lord on his behalf. We highly recommend it!
6. We make time to be together, and would rather be with one another than anywhere else: One of the greatest things about marriage is you get to be with the one you love best. Sadly, some marriage deteriorate to the place where couples would rather not spend time together. The opposite has happened to us. The more we grow together the harder it is to be apart, and the more joy we find in one another's company.
7. We have always made our marriage a priority: We are in ministry, and we've raised 3 children. There have always been plenty of places to spend our time and energy. But nothing has even come close to eclipsing our relationship when it comes to providing satisfaction, comfort, meaning, and pure joy. Because of this, we talk about our marriage, we insist on unhurried time together, and we regularly get away from our routine to enjoy being alone together.
8. We have learned to talk directly, and listen attentively: Few things are more frustrating that sloppy communication. I talk for a living so early on I had to learn to listen. Cherylyn has always been an excellent listener but has had to learn to express herself. We knew it was important so we made it a priority in our lives to talk and listen and ultimately, to understand. It's essential to a good relationship.
9. We made sure we always had something fun to look forward to: Even when we didn't have two dimes to rub together, we made sure there was fun in our future. We both love looking forward to something, no matter how small. So, we make fun a priority, and plan ahead so we can look forward to it.
10. We entrusted our lives to the providential care of God: We've travelled some difficult roads, made some hard decisions, and suffered some excruciating pain. But in every situation we have found refuge under the wings of the Almighty. It is at these difficult times that our theology really matters. Long ago we entrusted our lives into the hands of our God who sovereignly superintends all things. it's been a great ride, and we continue to believe the best is yet to come.